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Waiting For a Mentor: Take time to believe in a child

Most of us have been fortunate to grow up surrounded by many caring adults in addition to our parents. 

Perhaps it was the older neighbor man who offered constant attention and patience as he puttered in his garage. Or, the piano teacher who challenged, pushed and prodded you to appreciate and play music. 

Everyone remembers that one teacher who told bad jokes and puns but had a way of making school fun. 

These people believed in us. They took the time to be with us and helped us learn and grow.

The Search Institute continues to do research on youth development and states, “Relationships are the oxygen of human development.” It goes on to suggest that there are five things young people need to experience in our relationships with them: Care. Support. Challenge, Share power. Expand horizons.

Recently, a group of area professional men offered those experiences to a group of 15 unmatched Kinship kids. Some of these children have been waiting months for a mentor and all of these young people needed a good blast of oxygen! 

As Kinship staff transported these kids, primarily boys, for a fishing trip at Confidence Learning Center, conversation centered on the latest video games of fear, death and destruction. These were great kids, with high energy, and all were also very eager to jump in the boats and catch some fish. They all agreed it was a perfect summer day to be on the water. Too much time had been spent with their gaming devices.

The youth were split up into fishing boats with their guides. Three hours on the lake seemed like three minutes to most and they returned to shore with plenty of fish and hungry for supper. Returning home, the staff still heard talk about video games, but the kids also commented on how patient their guide was, how they learned to tie a lure in a completely new way and how they couldn’t wait to tell their parent about the lake adventure. 

Perhaps the most endearing comment was from a boy in my car who asked me at least a couple times, “And can Steve be my mentor?” I know Steve connected with these boys on all five levels.

Please consider being there, showing up and enriching the lives of children in our area. It truly takes a village to raise a child. 

Kinship Partners serves families in Crow Wing and southern Cass counties and the Staples/Motley area by providing positive role models to youth ages 5 to 14. Offices are in Pequot Lakes, Brainerd, Crosby and Staples. Call 218-454-8016 or visit for more information.