3 Seasons of Mentoring

junior camp

Last weekend was the junior camp Kalpohin (#jckalpohin) and as per my personal goals to assist in whatever way I can to improve the level of education and state of lives of young people in Ghana, I was there as a mentor. Junior camp is one of the forward programs of @GhanaThink Foundation to mentor young people especially high school students on their career choices, way of life and general living in all aspects of their lives.

There have been several junior camps in several regions over the years but this was the third time it had come back to kalpohin senior high school. Being a mentor at all three events meant that those who had participated in the very first one when they were in first year were now in their final year and had benefited from all the three programs will know some of the mentors.

So it set me thinking, in the three years that we had mentored these young students, were there or had there been any significant changes in their lives and thinking? If there was no way of accessing the impact of these camps then truth be told there was no need wasting our time on a weekend, when we could have been elsewhere or even cozying up and spending quality time with the family.

Oh! Even before I introduced myself some of the students already knew who I was from the previous junior camp and only one old boy got more fans. Furthermore, at such events, my name usually gets the intrigue because patrons want to know if it is my actual name especially since it is a fruit of quite significant use up here in the north. Apart from Shea nut, kola nut is the next in line in popularity and the latter is my name.

This was the junior camp at the same location that had the most mentors in all the three times it had been held there. During registration I hear the organizers had to take down the site because more mentors were signing on and some of us veterans blatantly refused to sign on claiming adamantly that if they didn’t need me there, the organizers could turn me away when I got there.

You should know by now that just as my name sounds I have a rebellious streak.

There were mentors for almost every aspect of the students’ life and this year there was a direct mentor for relationships and for a moment we all feared that most of the high school boys were going to end up in her session (she looked the part of a relationship counselor all svelte and perky) and were pleasantly surprised when they went to the entrepreneurial and other classes. There was even a mentor on the techniques of learning to pass exams.

Wow! This was one packed junior camp and it was obvious that the students were going to have a difficult time choosing.

So it was decided by the organizers to do a round robin so the students stayed and the mentors moved round from room to room.

When the program started there were very few students but within the hour, more joined in. apparently they are at general inspection and had to finish before joining the program and this was mostly the girls. They were a relief addition to the program because the guys became either quieter or more vocal with the arrival of the ladies.

The power of woman!

Sessions were held on entrepreneurial skills, ICT, learning techniques, journalism and social media, relationships and general life, public speaking, leadership, gender advocacy and for all this the students sat listening attentively and interacted freely with the mentors.

Now in the three years that this program has gone on at this particular high school, I have seen a change in the trend of thoughts of these students. At the first junior camp, I was worried and pointed it out to a fellow mentor that it was disturbing that most of the students when asked what they aspired to be in future either said teachers or farmers predominantly. That is not a bad thing per se but knowing the history of the north, these students were only exposed to the status quo and wanted to follow the trend as established by their predecessors. After high school one went to either the poly or teacher training college and became a teacher and if you didn’t do too well, you found your way into the police or the army.

Note that I said history. The Gold Coast constabulary which at independence was morphed into the Ghana Police started in the Northern Territories. Just check the number of IGPs who have come from the north and ethnic background of the top hierarchy of the Ghana Police.

Three years down the line and we have students whose reasoning capacity has increased. You interact with them and they are so open minded and open to suggestions, in tune with the changing global trends especially in technology and ready to challenge the status quo. These are students who are not aiming just to go to the University of Development Studies up north but are aiming to get scholarships for further study abroad in various fields. They have embraced education, and as one student who wants to be a barrister confirmed, want to be more than their mentors.

Hearing this as compared to being through three seasons of junior camp mentorship brought tears to my eyes and I realized that this is what we were striving for. This is what makes it all worth it. Creating a thinking generation that can stand on its own and make things better.

A better youth means a better nation and being a part of it makes one giddy with happiness.

The junior camps have come to stay and kudos to all the mentors all over Ghana and especially to the Swag Volunteers based mostly in Tamale, a group of vibrant young men and women who have set themselves apart to be part of every volunteer program happening anywhere in the north.

God bless volunteers everywhere and give you the strength to brighten the corner where you are.
You can also be a volunteer. All you have to do is support a cause with your time and resources. It is not always about throwing your all in there but the little you can do will go a long way to make a difference in somebody’s life.

Like I always say it begins with YOU!!

#VolunteerismIsLife
#TamaleChronicles

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2 Responses to “3 Seasons of Mentoring”

  1. Thank you so much for this blog post Kola Nut.
    I’m tearing up reading about how Junior Camps are impacting students of Kalpohin SHS and their mindsets and habits are changing.

    Awesome!

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