“The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves.” - Steven Spielberg
The mentor/mentee relationship can be a difficult thing to cultivate. More often than not, at the beginning of these relationships, there are lots of expectations that become unmet.
Jordan Camp and her mentee started out just like that. But now, their relationship has transformed from just a weekly meet-up for lunch or ice cream to a mutually encouraging, once-in-a-lifetime friendship.
Jordan and her mentee met in the fall of 2016 through a court affiliated Girl Scout Troop. Jordan was one of the troop leaders in which her soon-to-be mentee was a participant. When Jordan and she first met, the young student was struggling to manage her anger at school and at home, had a very strained relationship with her mom, and very leery of any authoritative figure.
At first, Jordan never thought she would receive respect from her, much less make any difference in her life. “Now looking back it is almost comical how much she seemed to dislike me at first, but it was very apparent that she was distrusting of adults - especially ones who said they wanted to help,” Jordan explained.
After the Girl Scout Troop meetings ended for the Fall 2016 semester, Jordan felt the timing was right to ask if this young student would be interested in gaining a mentor. Similar to most young people who are asked about their desire to have a mentor, Jordan said that the idea was shot down just as quick. With some talk of weekly starbucks and ice cream dates, she finally agreed to being Jordan’s mentee.
“Much of what I remember about the beginning few months of being [her] mentor was that some days it would feel like she was taking 10 steps forward and then some days it would feel like she was taking 100 steps backwards,” Jordan shared with us.
Jordan admitted that it was a little disappointing for a while. Her naivete set her up for some unmet expectations at first. Some of those expectations were things such as her mentee being excited to hang out with her, her mentee expressing gratitude to Jordan when she bought her something, or her mentee would suddenly start making better choices at home and school.
About 6 months of feeling like she was wasting her time or she was doing this whole mentor thing totally wrong, Jordan became more aware of the fact that this relationship was not for her own benefit at all. “It was not until I realized that it was not my job to “save” her or “fix” her that I began to really see my purpose in being her mentor and what a healthy mentor/mentee relationship should look like.”
Since Jordan’s “revelation,” Jordan and her mentee’s relationship looked much different than it did at first. After some time, instead of just meeting up for coffee or lunch every week, their relationship resembled a real friendship. Sometimes they would run errands together, walk Jordan’s dog together, volunteer together, and so much more that didn’t just revolve around Jordan buying something for her every time they met up.
At first, Jordan thought buying one more lunch or one more coffee would get her mentee to trust her. But it was to Jordan’s surprise that when she began to model a more healthy approach to being her mentor, that is when her mentee began to open up and even want to spend more time together.
Since then, Jordan and her mentee went on to experience lots of big life moments together. Jordan’s mentee was a bridesmaid at her wedding; they were on the radio together once; she was granted a scholarship at a local dance studio; she was released from probation and recently graduated from the local Alternative Learning Environment; and now she will be attending Conway High School this fall with her peers. “[My mentee] is growing into such a strong, intelligent and joyful young woman that I am so proud to know!!”
Jordan moved from Conway to Alabama in January of 2018, and since then, they have both made multiple visits to see each other.
Jordan shared, “It’s important for me to note that my relationship with [my mentee] has taught me more about myself, how to be a better friend, and what it looks like to love others the way Jesus loves me.” Jordan and her mentee had many ups and downs nonetheless, but Jordan would not want to change a single thing about their story. She says that it is one of the best friendships she has ever had, and for that she is grateful.