Olivier Prock (left) has been a mentor with CfY since 2005. He was the first mentor to jump on board when we told him about the “Meet Our Community” feature. This was what he wrote when we asked him, “What’s your most favorite memory of CfY?”

I still go back to my first camp [Launch] experience. We had a one mile run each morning at 7am. Each person’s time was recorded and shared out at lunch with honors going to those who improved or excelled. The students really disliked this activity and it was a challenge to get them to make an effort. On the final morning, the mentors were told that they would not be running, but would be on the course figuring out how to motivate a very irate body of students to exceed their previous times.

We had spent three days being overwhelmed by the challenges, unsure if the students noticed us, let alone if we were making connections, so this would be our biggest hurdle.

One of the students in my cabin was an athlete. He was too cool for just about all the activities, hanging back, disengaged, with a 1,000-yard stare throughout the weekend. I didn’t think he’d continue with the program after camp. Nevertheless, I approached Brendon with a challenge. I said I would race him in a sprint and if I beat him, he had to run the full mile. It caused a stir since he was known as a star athlete, and all eyes were on us at the start. We sprinted, he narrowly beat me (though that is still in contention), and I congratulated him but said he still had to run the mile with me which he did.

On our way back to our cabin, Brendon sidled up to me and without looking at me said, “You know Olivier, you never said what I would get if I beat you.” I agreed that I hadn’t and asked what would be fair. Brendon responded, “You have to be my mentor.” He stopped me in my tracks with that request. I couldn’t believe he would be that vulnerable, or that I could have so completely misjudged his behavior all weekend. That moment sticks with me because it speaks volumes to what this program is about. Getting comfortable being uncomfortable, developing vulnerability as a strength, approaching people and situations with curiosity instead of judgement and many other core principles.

Brendon is now 25, we see each other about once a month, and that student who was too cool for this CfY stuff, now says goodbye with a hug and an “I love you.”

If you’re interested in becoming a mentor or know someone who might be interested, please email our Director of Programs Sarah Larson at sarahl@communityforyouth.org. You can also apply to be a mentor online. Click here!