Mentoring as part of the Friends of Youth program

I recently signed up and underwent training to be a mentor to a disadvantaged child in Dare County. The Friends of Youth program pairs troubled kids with mentors who act as big sisters/brothers by being a role model and taking the kids out for fun activities they might not otherwise get to experience. A lot of these kids come from dysfunctional households, have trouble in school and/or have gone through the juvenile justice system. They need a good example to follow, and they need to know someone cares about them. I've committed to spending a minimum of two hours a week with a child I am matched up with for the next year. I'm likely going to be matched with a 12- to 14-year-old, and we'll do things like go to restaurants, play at the beach, maybe horseback riding, movies, mini golf, bowling, or anything else he/she thinks might be fun. I can't wait to meet my match!

Meantime, I'm involved in the Friends of Youth group activities. Sunday, about 30 of us in the program --mentors and kids-- went fishing aboard the Crystal Dawn out of Pirates Cove in the Outer Banks. We really showed these kids a good time. Most of them had never been fishing before. I spent much of the day helping some 9- to 11-year-old boys have a blast reeling in small croaker. We spotted some dolphins off and on throughout the day and all of us, kids and adults, ooohed and aghhed. The highlight of my day was spending time with a quiet 7-year-old girl who had just entered the program. She was a bit shy about fishing at first saying, "I'm not sure I can do this." But the next thing I knew, she was grabbing my pole, walking confidently on her own to the side of the boat and giving it her best. Later, she told us, "This is the best day I've ever had." 

I have to say, I'm not sure which one of us is doing the giving here. I'm really looking forward to the next year with this fantastic group of kids. 

Here is some video of the dolphins we spotted on the Crystal Dawn. You can hear that the kids were so excited!