Camp About Face Leadership Academy Mentor Information

Earlier this summer 14 youth traveled to Bradford Woods in Martinsville, Indiana to participate in the Camp About Face Leadership Academy (CAFLA), a program sponsored by the Cleft and Craniofacial Clinic at Riley at IU Health. The Leadership Academy utilizes volunteer adult mentors to chaperone and guide the participants through the weekend’s activities. This year’s mentors were Caitlin Church, Paul Francis, Brian Jay, Andrea Loda, and Anne Nagengast. The following mentor fact sheet was distributed to all campers and parents prior to camp.

A ‘mentor’ is defined as ‘a wise and trusted counselor or teacher’ as well as ‘an influential senior sponsor or supporter.’ The Camp About Face Leadership Academy (CAFLA) volunteer mentors strive to embody all these qualities during the course of the three-day adventure of CAFLA and beyond. Our mentors, though, are more than just dictionary definitions.

We’re sharing the following information with you so that you can better understand what to expect from our mentors during and after Leadership Academy. Please review this information together—both Academy participant and parent/guardian- before arriving so as to be informed of these important guidelines and expectations.

Mentors are part of the craniofacial community.

Each mentor has a connection to the craniofacial community by either having a craniofacial anomaly, being related to someone who does, or working closely with those in the craniofacial community. We believe these circumstances give mentors a unique vantage point from which to relate to and connect with CAFLA participants.

Mentors are volunteers.

CAFLA mentors gain only memories, lasting relationships and the satisfaction of having been part of a worthwhile experience through their involvement. Many have served as mentors for a number of years, taking time out of their work and personal lives to see to it that CAFLA participants receive the best experience possible.

Mentors must pass a background check and complete youth protection training.

Like many organizations that work with youth, Camp About Face requires it’s adult mentors to pass a background check. This is a procedure that parallels the policy Bradford Woods implements with its paid staff. In addition, mentors complete training on practical youth protection guidelines and appropriate mentor/participant boundaries.

Mentors are willing and able to extend mentorship beyond Leadership Academy weekend.

Technology has made everyone—the very young to the very old—accessible online through social media. Several of our mentors regularly use Facebook, email, and other online tools to make themselves available to CAFLA participants throughout the year. Mentors are constantly aware of the impact they have as older, trusted adults and are committed to offering the highest level of trust and comfort to participants. As part of an ongoing mission to form and maintain meaningful relationships with the young adults who attend CAFLA, mentors may also contact participants to simply check in and say ‘hi’ from time to time. If parents or Academy participants are uncomfortable with tis contact, simply let us know. We value both your request and your trust.

Mentors are coaches and advisors; not necessarily therapists or trained psychologists.

While mentors are ready to deal with tough questions and deep emotions that sometimes accompany craniofacial anomalies, they are not licensed in mental health care. Some do work in the health care field—but collectively, our mentors work in a wide variety of fields unrelated to health and psychology. Mentors want to talk and connect with participants about their life experiences; however, if mentors find reason to believe that something threatening the health or safety of a participant is taking place in his or her life, the mentor will take the necessary steps in his or her life, the mentor will take the necessary steps to make sure this individual is not in danger. Mentors want Academy participants to know that they are there for support, but cannot offer the same type of help as a licensed therapist, psychologist, or counselor.

Mentors demonstrate leadership.

Mentors have developed and continually work towards improving their own leadership abilities, all while expecting the same from participants while at Leadership Academy. It is within this context that leaders are developed and sustained.

If you have questions about any of the above expectations or guidelines, please contact the Cleft and Craniofacial Program Office at Riley at IU Health at 317.274.2489. It is because of your feedback that Camp About Face Leadership Academy will continue to improve.

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