Today’s Club Story comes from Ericha Clary, Unit Director at Boys & Girls Clubs of the Colorado River’s newest unit, Fort Mohave. Keen readers of the ClubX Blog will recognize that organization, as they’ve been featured on the blog TWICE already! (Here and here!)
Before the start of summer 2018 here at our local Club in Bullhead City, I was interviewing teens for our youth leadership program. One teen in particular had curiously asked a question that stood out to me entirely- “What is one bad experience you’ve had working at the Club?” At that moment, every prior engagement relating to the Club played back in my head. I gave them my answer- “I haven’t ever had a bad experience.”
I began to explain what exactly I meant by that because of course I was supposed to say there was no bad experiences. (Some say you shouldn’t ever say negative things about your employer, but in my case, I’m lucky enough to never experience any negativity!)
Of course I have had kids throw things at me. I have had kids scream in my face. I have had kids push me, and in one instance I even had a kid punch me in the stomach. But these are not bad experiences. These are challenges. A test of patience. An essential building block to grow, to learn, and to improve.
With that being said, these challenges shouldn’t ever discourage growth. If there is one thing that we have to recognize as leaders, it is that there is only ONE way to teach leadership: LEADING. BY. EXAMPLE. Resilience is one wonderful example that we as Club staff can pass on to our youth. Positivity is an essential link in both resilience and leadership.
With presented a challenge there are easy questions we can ask ourselves to conquer it:
Why am I here?
I am here to change lives. I am here to make a difference.
How do I react?
Positively, with patience. Getting worked up often leads to negativity. Fighting fire with fire does not and will not ever work when working with children.
How do I get a child to cooperate?
Unfortunately, kids do not come with an instruction manual. All kids may have different mindsets but you should always make sure a child is comfortable before going any further. Sometimes giving them breathing room/thinking time goes a long way. Encourage them to take a deep breath. If it helps, take a deep breath as well.
At the end of the day you will always be faced with one decision: Do I stop? Or do I keep going? Take a deep breath and remember why you are here. Becoming a Youth Development Professional gives you an incredible opportunity to change lives. Acknowledging the difference between a “bad experience” and a “challenge” provides you with an outlook that is much more positive. ALL challenges can be looked at as an opportunity to not just grow, but to flourish.
Ericha has been in the movement for almost a year and a half, starting as temporary summer staff and now as Unit Director of the Fort Mohave Unit of Boys & Girls Clubs of the Colorado River. She is also a pre-law student and loves volunteering and changing lives.