“My mentor helped me a lot and I really love this program. I want to be able to do the same and help other kids.”
Junior Mentors and Junior Mentor Interns
Fueled by their successes in the water and their new identities as environmentally conscious surfers, our students get stoked on life. They begin to see brighter possible futures and set higher goals for themselves. They aspire to become good citizens, role models, and potential community leaders. The role of Junior Mentor is one of the first goals many of them set.
“I’ll do whatever I need to do to be a Junior Mentor. Just tell me what to do and I’ll be there. I’ll even work for free, I just want to keep surfing and hang out with you guys.”
“This is the best job ever; I mean, hey, I get paid to hang out with cool people AND surf? What a deal!”
Junior Mentors are former Spirit Sessions students who demonstrate strong leadership potential and are positive role models for their peers. Junior Mentors are paid staff members who help run Spirit Sessions and are in charge of managing all materials, distributing rash guards, recording attendance, taking photos and leading beach cleanups. They play a crucial role, serving as liaisons between staff members, mentors and youth. According to our youth, the title itself represents highly desirable status among our students, and the pay is considered a secondary bonus.
Becoming a Junior Mentor
To become a Junior Mentor, students are nominated by current Junior Mentors and approved by staff. Candidates are invited to return to Spirit Sessions as unpaid Junior Mentor Interns where they are trained by Junior Mentors and are included in all Junior Mentor meetings and activities. Junior Mentor Interns must be consistently responsible and prove they can be depended on before they are promoted to Junior Mentor.
Junior Mentors and Interns also participate in program development, as well as fundraising activities and speaking tours. Junior Mentors and Interns are first-tier candidates for job referrals to other employers. Selected Junior Mentors are offered the opportunity to be trained and certified as Junior Lifeguards, and qualifying candidates are certified as full-fledged Lifeguards.
Junior Mentors “Champions in Training” Speakers Bureau
Our kids are rich in experience in overcoming challenges. Many have survived homelessness, poverty, have battled and overcome addictions, and are in the throes of substantial changes. They learn that their experiences make them strong and that they can teach and inspire others.
Spirit Sessions youth are often invited to share their personal stories about learning to redirect their lives despite extreme challenges and tragic obstacles that average people rarely face and many youth are sheltered from. Audiences gain a greater appreciation for their blessings and begin to reconsider how they view others:
“I learned that I have a very lucky life compared to how some kids have it. You made me realize that I should never take anything for granted. I’ll never forget your story”
“When I picture people in DH (Detention Home), one usually sees a kid with a hoody with some drugs or something hanging with a gang. But the way (he) talked, I could tell he wasn’t anything like that… it really opened up my eyes to a new way of life.”
In exchange, Spirit Sessions youth learned they, too, have something to offer, and through their trials and tribulations they have gained the wisdom to be positive role models, leaders, valued community members and champions of positive change.