Advisors are key to having effective youth councils. The type of advisor will determine to a great extent the success of the youth council.
To be successful, an advisor must have the respect, trust, and confidence of youth council members as well as of their parents and officials of the sponsoring organization.
An effective advisor is:
- Dedicated and determined
- Persistent and consistent
- A good listener
Advisors assume a variety of roles and responsibilities. They may be a guide, a counselor, a motivator, a promoter, or a coach. However, the advisor’s primary role is that of a facilitator.
An advisor must be sure that youth council officers understand their roles and insist that they know how to conduct an effective meeting. Although the primary responsibility for bringing youth council projects and activities to successful completion rests with the youth involved, the advisor will be called upon to supply a great deal of information and guidance.
An advisor takes steps to keep partisan politics out of youth council meetings and activities. They set a positive example by not speaking against elected leaders or officials of the sponsoring organization and insisting youth council leaders do likewise.
Advisors perform other duties including:
- monitoring funds,
- filing annual reports to the UNITY office,
- obtaining medical release forms when youth take trips,
- serving as liaison between youth and youth council’s sponsoring organization,
- encouraging active participating of each youth council member,
- encouraging the goals of UNITY,
- creating opportunities for youth councils, and
- assuming the responsibilities and duties of a chaperon.
At youth council meetings, advisors should help develop effective relationships among youth. An advisor should promote communication techniques that make youth council members feel better about themselves, help them express their feelings, and encourage them to talk in a setting which is free from threats or fear, such as a talking circle.
The advisor monitors meetings and activities to ensure that the youth council does not become a clique or an elitist group and to ensure that a few of the members don’t dominate every meeting or get all the media attention.
An advisor demonstrates trust. As trust develops among youth council members and the advisor, it is much easier for individual members to learn how their behavior affects the rest of the group and to modify this behavior if necessary or appropriate.
Advisors should always keep in mind that the youth council belongs to the youth. The advisor assists members in every way possible, but the meetings and projects are planned by members. The advisor must not misuse the youth council by pushing their personal agenda upon the members.
The personal conduct of an advisor is extremely important – not only in youth council meetings – but at all times. The advisor is a friend who relates well with youth, but does not try to be a youth. They must know where to “draw the line.” The advisor is a role model and one who is entrusted by parents to work with their sons and daughters. The quickest way to destroy a youth council is for an advisor to do something that might violate this trust relationship.
The advisor holds a very challenging position because youth council members will model the leadership they demonstrate. Ultimately, a youth council’s success depends greatly on the attitude, commitment, and overall effectiveness of an advisor.
In short, a good advisor serves as…..
Facilitator Consultant Teacher Observer Promoter Positive Role Model
When possible, an advisory council should be formed from representatives of various youth-serving organizations to assist with youth council programs and development.