Counselors and Coaches Build Connections through Shared Interest

At Connected Camps, we know that you aren’t enrolling your child in a program to simply pass the time; they’re here to learn (and have fun!). That’s why we create an environment that provides support, encouragement, training, and challenge, while allowing kids to be themselves. 

We carefully choose and instruct our counselors and coaches so that they know how to foster that growth environment while building quality near-peer relationships with campers. Our programs are run in a small group setting, allowing kids to share and learn from each other and the counselors.

A key driver of effective mentorship is a shared interest. When youth have a chance to connect with a near peer around a shared interest it can be transformational. If your child’s passion is Minecraft: we hear you. So is ours!! It means so much for kids to be in a room – even a virtual room – with others who “get it,” who love the same game and speak the same language of survival and redstone and sandbox and mods. Esports lovers want to hang out with others who know their game and use Discord and watch streamers on Twitch.

The key is that Connected Camps counselors not only speak the same language, they’re fantastic role models that will first connect with your kids around shared interests, and then help them strive for their best future. 

As this Forbes story says, “Near-peer mentors allow mentees to envision what their life could be like if they applied themselves, which can be extremely motivational. Because of this role-model effect, students who work with near-peer mentors are more likely to feel more motivated overall.”

This is exemplified in our unique structure that enables high school students to get early training in our program as teen volunteers. They assist the lead counselors in running our fun and educational online programs and gain mentoring at the same time. 

Alexa is one of those teen volunteers, and she shared how she’s become a counselor because of her experience when she was younger: “Before I became a volunteer counselor at Connected Camps, I was a camper for several years. During that time I had many wonderful near-peer mentors/counselors who have greatly impacted me in many ways. Much of what I now know about managing classrooms and working with kids was learned from those past mentors.”

Not only do counselors and kids connect because they share a love of Minecraft, or League of Legends or Fortnite. They might also share an interest in history, or architecture, or performing arts. Those ties connect them and create a unique avenue for youngsters to “find their people” — peers and mentors who share an identity or interest.

One parent talked about their experience with our Builder’s Club this way: “My 10-year-old really loves this group. The instructor and other players were very helpful in getting him started. It’s great to hear my child happily chatting away and creating. Fun, constructive and well moderated!”

This report from the Connected Learning Alliance demonstrates that online peer networks and support can be more accessible than other networks that kids might develop. This is good news as COVID-19 is currently keeping many of us somewhat isolated from in-person gatherings.

The report shows that learning is “transformative and resilient as youth connect with mentors” through shared activities and meaningful projects. It also points out that “supportive relationships and peers and mentors are particularly important in programs serving youth who are pursuing rapidly changing fields in areas such as digital media and technology.”

As you’re looking for online camps and clubs for your family, keep in mind the importance of that near-peer mentoring role. At Connected Camps, we’re hiring and training counselors that will help your child learn more than technology skills; they also understand that their role as a mentor can impact the course of each camper’s life. We all take that seriously (even while we’re having fun!).

Note: this blog is part of a series. Click here to read the first post about “Why Peer Mentorship Matters to Young People.”

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