Rovers: What Makes A Good Mentor?

In Scouting, sharing is important. It is one of the key elements that makes Scouting work. Adventures are made more successful through the sharing of successes and challenges: we let one another know about what works and what doesn’t. If people have questions, they ask, and if others have answers, they are freely given. When we share our stories, we enrich not only our Scouting experiences, we enrich our lives. And in a way, it’s what comes naturally. After all, people are social animals. Part of what makes us human is our ability to share.

The Scout Method is explicit with regard to sharing, in particular through the inclusion of The Patrol (Team) System as a core value. In many Sections, The Patrol (Team) System is implicitly built into the structure of the program. Scout Troops, for instance, are divided into Patrols; Cub Packs are divided into Lairs. The point of these smaller groups is to learn to work together as a team within the larger structure of the Section as a whole. But what about for older Sections?

Rover Scouts include The Patrol (Team) System within their Section in two ways. The first is through the development of various committees (Teams) that are created by each Crew. These are ad hoc groups that help to make adventures possible. While these resemble the smaller groups used by other Sections, they are not permanent: once an adventure is over the Team that was struck to oversee it is disbanded. Another way to involve the Patrol (Team) System in a more permanent way in your Rover Section is to develop a mentoring system.

At its core, a mentoring system is simple: it requires a mentor and a mentee. The relationship is always one-to-one, and is meant to provide opportunities for personal development that will allow Rovers to reach academic and career objectives. Within a Rover Crew, there may be several mentors, and mentors may take on more than one mentee, but each relationship is special and is meant to be long lasting.

It is easy to get things going within your Crew. All it takes is someone willing to take on a mentoring role. Sometimes the relationship will occur organically as individuals gravitate toward others in the group with whom they feel comfortable. Other times the arrangement is a little more formal. However it comes about, it is important to make the mentor-mentee relationship official and to sit down together to discuss goals and create a Personal Development Plan (PDP). Tool and worksheets are available in the Scouter Manual and through Canadianpath.ca

So what makes a good mentor? This is important for both the mentor and the mentee to know. If you are thinking of taking on a mentorship role, there are some qualities that make a good mentor. There is a misconception that being a mentor requires special skills, or that you might have to take a mentorship training course, but in reality mentors are people who demonstrate the qualities of a good role model, which can be easily developed through practice. Here are a few of those qualities to keep in mind if you are looking for a mentor, or are thinking of taking on a mentor role:

Mentors listen. Make sure to give your mentee your full attention. Make eye contact. Put away that cell phone or anything else that might distract you. You must share your attention with your mentee.

Mentors guide. Your role as a mentor is one of leadership, but not by telling mentees what to do. Your job is to help your mentee find his or her own direction in life and help him or her to learn by doing.

Mentors are practical. Mentors use tools (like the Personal Development Plan worksheet) to help give mentees insights about keeping on task and setting goals. They use the Plan-Do-Review cycle as part of setting and celebrating goals.

Mentors provide insight. As a mentor, you must be ready to share your own personal experiences with your mentee. You are an example for your mentee. Let your mentee benefit from your experience.

Mentors make themselves available. You need to make yourself available to your mentee when they need you. You are your mentee’s sounding board.

Mentors criticize constructively. This is very important. As a good mentor, you can never criticize a mentee’s character. Always focus on behaviour and offer advice on areas that may need improvement with specific suggestions that relate to his or her goals.

Mentors support. No matter what, as a mentor you are there for your mentee to encourage them to learn and be better people through your constant support.

Mentors care. Always show a positive interest in what your mentee is doing. Always recognize and acknowledge successes, no matter how small.

Mentors succeed. In order to foster successes in others, it is important to set an example yourself. If you are going to be a good mentor, you must always practice what you preach!

A mentoring relationship requires time, effort and dedication, both on the part of the mentor and on the part of the mentee. Similarly, the rewards are two-sided. A mentor will share in a mentee’s successes, just as a coach enjoys seeing a dedicated athlete have a great performance in a competition. A mentor will also gain a little perspective on his or her own life by reflecting on the challenges and aspirations of others. When all is said and done, a mentor might just benefit from the mentoring relationship even more than the mentee!

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