Record-setting number of participants attend 5th annual Michigan 4-H Mentoring Weekend
By Barb Brow and Priscilla Martin
The fifth annual Michigan 4-H Mentoring Weekend took place at Kettunen Center on July 20 to 22, 2012. This event brought together 78 participants (youth, their mentors and mentoring staff from planned youth-mentoring programs around the state) - a record number of attendees - for a camp-style experience.
The weekend was designed to strengthen their relationship while encouraging youth educational outcomes in the areas of healthy living, science literacy, workforce preparation, outdoor education, service learning and technology. Youth and mentors participated in activities like Sergeant Sadler’s Boot Camp, archery, smoothie making, gardening, LEGO robotics, and remote underwater vehicle challenges. This year’s weekend featured a career-exploration workshop for mentees. This special workshop was planned to highlight the theme of the weekend, “Taking it to the top one career at a time.”
Mentors received inservice training from MSU Extension professionals to assist them in developing skills to better equip them to engage in positive youth development. This year’s mentor-training topics included experiential learning, life-skill development, and bullying awareness. 4-H Mentoring staff led interactive training sessions from the soon-to-be published mentor training curriculum, Ready to Go: A Mentor Training Toolkit.
This year’s service project was writing letters to military youth offering support and appreciation during deployment through the Operation: Military Kids (OMK) program.
Planning was led by Lisa Bottomley and Molly Frendo, Michigan 4-H State Office staff members. This year’s event chair was Barb Brow,Ottawa County 4-H program instructor, and vice-chair, Alexandra Boyd, Macomb County 4-H and Oakland County 4-H mentoring program coordinator. Ed Shaw,Michigan Department of Natural Resources park interpreter in Cadillac provided assistance in the archery sessions along with Michigan 4-H Shooting Sports volunteer, Chip Culbertson, and he presented a program about the wildlife found in Michigan. Sara Keinath, Wexford County MSU Extension educator, recruited local professionals to attend the special career-exploration workshop.
One 15-year-old mentee expressed his appreciation this way: “This was my 5th 4-H Mentoring Weekend and every year they do something even more awesome!” He continued, explaining that he and his mentor ”. . . had fun at boot camp, playing with ROVs [remotely operated underwater vehicles], and of course, we love Jell-O Wars. I always meet cool people and learn something new. Thank you!”