Friday, March 02, 2007

Rethinking Jordan

A few years earlier, a youth worker named Siofra had had the opportunity to come in contact with a young lady who was going into her junior year of high school. She was attending a camp known as the Gateway Teen Institute, where Siofra was working as a summer counselor. The girl’s name was Jordan, and Siofra could tell from her actions that she would rather have been invisible. She was quiet, the sort of kid that tends to fly under the radar, the kind that adult leaders often overlook.

After some time had passed, the counselors met to discuss the students that were participating in the summer camp. When Jordan’s name came up, no one could say anything about her. That immediately sent up a red flag. It was troubling that there seemed to be a nonentity at the camp. The counselors put their heads together and came up with a plan to engage her. What did Jordan’s actions reveal concerning her beliefs about herself? She may have been clinging to the misconception that she had nothing valuable to offer the group. Perhaps she believed that no one would want to listen to her ideas. That was where they as adult leaders needed to intercede.

The counselors arranged to meet with Jordan not long after this discussion. Siofra shared the positive attributes of her character and personality. The other counselors discussed how they observed her caring for others in a soft, quiet manner. Then they had the opportunity to challenge her to rise up. One by one, they each related how they believed that she carried within her the ability to be a gifted leader. It is very important to note that, when we affirm young people, we must be honest about what we see in them. Adolescents have an uncanny ability to spot a phony!

Following the mythical pattern, Siofra next needed to present Jordan with a gift. While winged sandals, a personal army, or a helmet of invisibility would have been really neat gifts, she thought that something else might be just as potent. Siofra instead declared her to be the new team captain for her camping team! From this point on, Jordan had to approve all decisions made by the team, and everyone else was obligated to discuss their ideas with Jordan.

Now, Jordan didn’t discover a cure for cancer or bring about world peace during her tenure as captain, but she did make some valuable contributions to the team. She began to open up to other students, made some friends, and explored the possibility that she had something important to offer.

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