Mentoring Activities

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The activities your matches do together form the heart and soul of the YouthBuild mentoring relationship. If these activities are meaningful and fun, the relationship will thrive as the mentor and mentee form a close, trusting, and mutually enjoyable relationship. If activities are devoid of personal meaning or forced on the student without input, there is a good chance that the mentee will resist the relationship or drop out of the mentoring program altogether.

This section reviews mentoring activities for both the group mentoring period at the beginning of the program cycle and the long-term one-to-one matches that follow.


Key Resources and Forms for this Section


General Guidance for Selecting Match Activities

In YouthBuild mentoring programs, match activities are often community-based, meaning the pair meets out in the community so they can explore new opportunities, meet other supportive adults, and facilitate the student’s personal growth and building of networking skills. Encourage mentors to follow these activity tips:

  • Ensure that activities are youth-driven. Give students a strong voice in selecting match activities. Even group service projects should be planned with student preferences and ideas in mind. Always provide your mentees with the opportunity to be in the driver’s seat in their relationships.
  • Allow for fun. Often, a mentor’s natural inclination is to want to fix their mentee’s problems and spend activity time focused on purposefully addressing the youth’s circumstances. But an overemphasis on this type of prescriptive activity can leave little room for bonding, personal sharing, and plain old fun. Don’t forget to leave some time for relaxing and mellow time together.
  • Create exposure to new mentor-rich environments. While the relationship with the one-to-one mentor is the focal point of the YouthBuild mentoring program, the mentor and mentoring coordinator should also expose the mentee to other prospective mentors who can help the student with goals and ongoing personal development. This is done by creating mentor-rich environments where youth interact and network with many other positive adults. Examples include a one-day job shadow at a local business, a service project in conjunction with another nonprofit, or even just hanging out on the weekend shooting hoops with the mentor’s coworkers or friends.
  • Encourage free or low-cost activities. Mentors are not ATMs. While part of the mentor’s role is obviously to broaden the youth’s horizons, mentors should not feel obligated to spend significant amounts of money on match activities. Remember, some of the best mentoring happens while just walking around a college campus or discussing a recent movie. It’s the “talk time” that is important, not the extravagance.