Today’s post come from Deb DeMuth.  Deb is the Executive Director of Bridges Kinship Mentoring. Bridges’ mission is to help children and adolescents achieve their greatest selves by connecting them with positive role models who can befriend, inspire, encourage and guide them.  January is National Mentoring Month, if you want to learn more about mentoring, contact Deb at 218-326-4700.

Deb is the Executive Director of Bridges Kinship Mentoring.

Deb is the Executive Director of Bridges Kinship Mentoring.


I’ve lived many different places around the country, and I can say for the most part that where my feet have landed generally reflect areas with a strong connection to the outdoors. For those that know me now in Grand Rapids, MN, you might find it hard to believe that I know how to use (and own) an avalanche beacon, I am a graduate of two Outward Bound Schools (three courses) and I have solo hiked Mt. Washington in New Hampshire, whose claim to fame is once holding the world record for directly measured surface wind speed, at 231 mph. I once packed everything I owned, put it in storage, gave the cat into the care of friends and went on a month long climbing and hiking adventure in CO and WY with my husband of 32 years. I credit him with the my experience with outdoor adventure.

One of the things he taught me was how to use an orienteering compass, and the biggest thing I remember is that the needle always points north. Maps have true north at the top and compasses point to magnetic north. Depending where you are on the surface of the Earth, you’ll have to account for the magnetic shift to get an accurate reading. While the difference may seem small, traveling just one degree off for the distance of a mile will have you about 100 feet (30.5 m) off track. Think of how off you’ll be after ten or twenty miles. It’s important to compensate by taking the declination into account.


When the results for the Youth Voice Student Survey Report were released in November 2014, I was eager to see the information. I’ve followed the work of the Search Institute for over 30 years. The research was very relevant to me when I lived in Littleton , CO, as the park & rec department I worked for had just received a grant to see if typical middle class kids needed asset building too, or were they equip with everything they needed to grow up healthy and successful.  Then the Columbine shootings happened in my backyard, in my workplace and to my friends, coworkers and family. Needless to say, I am a firm believer in the 40 Developmental Assets and how they can help children and youth thrive. When I got my hands on the survey information in November here is what struck me the most. Sixty nine percent of the youth surveyed reported “Challenged” or “Vulnerable” in Positive values– the proportion of youth who report that they have strong values or principles that help them make positive life choices.

What has happened I thought? Really? Sixty nine percent? Then I was scared because I believe that positive values are the place that successful life flows out of. It is what we believe about the world around us, our neighbor, our community, our surroundings, and ourselves. It is the part of us that motivates and moves into all other good things like compassion, civic responsibility and empathy. It is the magnet in our magnetic north, and although we might disagree on what a “Positive Value” is today because after all values change (do they? Isn’t North north?), we need to take the time and adjust for the magnetic shift so we end up going in the correct direction to make our destination.

This is what I know- sixty two percent of the youth surveyed are not in a position to make the destination in Positive Values. Let’s orient the compass and move forward.