Each monthly daylong in a Stepping Stones group has a different focus within the arc of the Coming-of-Age program and curriculum. This month in our blog post, we explore our latest curricular theme: Challenge and Adversity.
We all know that challenge and adversity are an unavoidable part of life. The ability to cope with them well is not a given, but a learned skill. Sometimes challenge presents itself during the pursuit of a personal goal, like learning a musical instrument or taking a tough class in school. Sometimes they are beyond our control. For teens these can be things like peer pressure, change in the family or health issues. Learning that one can overcome obstacles, no matter the root cause, sets a foundation for future success.
Psychologists call this developmental skill “resilience.” When young people cultivate an approach to life that views overcoming obstacles as a critical part of success, they become resilient. When resilience is built youth can bounce back from failure, manage stress, cope with loss, and adapt to change. Research shows that one of the keys to building resilience is to have supportive adults guiding youth through difficult times. These adults can help them consider various paths through their struggles and encourage them to make their own decisions while being available for support and encouragement.
What better way is there to describe the role of a mentor in the lives of youth?
In mentoring youth with Stepping Stones, group Leaders think deeply about how their youth participants can face challenge and adversity while feeling comfortable and confident wherever their boundaries are. Leaders often create challenges for the group to face both as a team and individually. Solo time, tending an all-night fire, testing physical limits, and working on interpersonal relationships are all likely occurrences during their time with Stepping Stones.
Groups are also a place for the youth to share and be supported around struggles from their lives outside the group. The relationships that the youth develop with the Leaders, the Elder and each other become sources of strength when they are working through stressful situations and emotions.
How teens learn to manage challenges and adversity has a lasting effect on their future. Each time a youth rises to meet a challenge, they are developing confidence, strength, and resilience. Being part of a Stepping Stones group is an opportunity to give youth ongoing support to develop healthy patterns and grow into young adults, ready to face adversity in all its forms.