Mentors and mentees explore similar interests

Published 9:30 am Saturday, October 1, 2011

Column: Carolyn Smith, Guest Column

Do you enjoy arts and crafts? Would you rather shoot hoops or go bowling? Perhaps you enjoy baking cookies or going for a walk.

Carolyn Smith

When volunteers are interested in becoming mentors to children or youth through STARS in Faribault County or Community Mentor Connection in Freeborn County, we always ask about their interests. Just as our adult friendships develop around what we have in common, we know that mentoring relationships work best when the mentor and child are able to explore similar interests together. Interests are the primary criteria we use for connecting an adult with a child.

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New volunteers often wonder if they will find enough to do with their mentees, but it is not necessary to plan elaborate or expensive outings. Just hanging out together and playing a game can be fun and worthwhile.

We also offer occasional group events so mentors and mentees can meet other mentors and mentees. This summer we enjoyed several group activities.

In June, mentors and mentees were invited to Night at the Museum for a treasure hunt and a bonfire with roasted hot dogs in the Freeborn County Historical Museum’s Village. Later that month we enjoyed an evening at Chateau Raceway in Lansing.

Scott Mehus of the National Eagle Center talks about the wingspan of the American Bald Eagle as children in STARS and Community Mentor Connection try to capture the moment on their cameras.

Almost 45 people turned out for our annual mentor-mentee-family picnic at Edgewater Park in late July, in spite of a tornado warning and sudden downpour just a few hours before. Mentees participated in craft activities with their mentors and parents, and took turns at a piñata.

In August we offered an opportunity to climb the wall and ride the zipline at Prairie River Camp in Bricelyn. This has been an annual event for several years, and it’s great to see that look of accomplishment on a child’s face when they reach the top of the wall.

In September, we chartered a bus to the National Eagle Center in Wabasha. It was a great time for all our mentors and mentees and we learned a lot about these magnificent birds.

Mentoring is fun for both mentees and mentors. We always need more volunteers, both men and women. If you would like to know more, please contact me at 507-383-5272 or

Carolyn Smith is the coordinator of STARS and Community Mentor Connection.