What is G2g all about? Why do we do what we do?
By: Pete Bergstrom
Passing life experiences and values from “Generation to generation” (G2g) is a worthwhile endeavor. Kids deserve more. Adults need to understand the value of their mentoring to younger generations.
The decline of mentoring in the U.S. has affected current generations of adults and will affect those in the future. Adults who never had a mentor don’t understand the personal growth that comes from these relationships. We generally don’t value what we have never experienced. We don’t know what we don’t know!
I was lucky enough as a teenager to have a mentor. At the time, I didn’t recognize the experience as “mentoring.” I was a 14-year-old guy whose folks had been divorced since I was 10. My dad was only in the picture on weekends. Then Bob, our backdoor neighbor, stepped into my life.
Bob was a sailboat racer. He had a 16-ft. wooden Town Class sailboat that needed a crew of two to race. For some reason, Bob picked me, the backyard neighbor kid with no sailing experience, to be the second person for his crew.
I had never been sailing before in my life, but through Bob’s skill and patience I became a pretty good sailor in my own right. And I learned how to care for a wooden boat — sanding and refinishing, tending to the sails, making minor repairs — to keep it race-ready for the weekend.
Most of our racing was at the local Massapoag Lake in Sharon, MA. Regatta’s were held most every Sunday afternoon. We would occasionally put the boat on a trailer to compete at such exotic locations as Newport Harbor in Rhoda Island. (This was exotic to a 14-year-old because this is where the real sailboat racers competed in their much larger, beautiful boats.) We even won that race in Newport Harbor — a weekend I have never forgotten.
Bob and I sailed together for at least two summers, maybe three. My memory of the details is somewhat fuzzy. The memory that remains solid, however, is that Bob, someone outside my family and with no skin in the game, took the time and energy to pour knowledge and caring into me.
It wasn’t just sailing and boat-maintenance skills he imparted; it was all of the life skills that go along with just being alive and around other people. His mentoring made me feel worthwhile, like I had value as a person. Unbelievable confidence comes from such encounters.
Adults, even if you were not lucky enough to have a mentor-mentoree relationship when you were growing up, reach out to a local kid and share whatever you are passionate about. Start breaking the non-mentoring chain here in the U.S.!
And kids, don’t think it’s weird when an adult wants to get involved in your life. Soak up what they have to offer and give back with your energy and enthusiasm. There are many days when we older people need a good dose of that too!
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