NUMBER 85 • 13 AUGUST 2002 • WHY DID YOU STAY?
INDEX OF QUOTES
A decade ago a well-known journal, in the course of short interviews, asked three child and youth care leaders why they stayed on in the field ...
How could one not? Seriously, with all the frustrations and turmoil that mark (and mar) our field, I have found it to be as exciting and rewarding as I can imagine. By and large, the people involved are great and great to be with, friendly, informal, a worldwide community whose members are almost instantly recognizable to one another, and a source of continuing mutual hospitality and support. Although we do not take ourselves too seriously, most of us are serious idealists, committed to the importance of what we do and of doing it well.
Even as we have moved toward professionalization, we have consciously strived to avoid the trap of becoming overly self-serving at the expense of our clients and our obligations to society. Perhaps we do not always succeed in this, but we continue to hold it as an ideal and we achieve it more fully, it seems to me, than do most of the allied professions with which we work. If we were to lose that, we would lose our heart and our soul; as long as we have it, what better place could there be? The work is hard, the frustrations are great, and the road is long, but the task is surely among the most important there is and we get to do it with friends. How could we not stay the course?
The relationships with young people have been the major payoff. I have learned so much from them, and hope that sometimes it has been reciprocal. After many years in the field, one has the satisfaction of seeing former students come back; some who seemed to have very little chance of success have often surprised me very pleasantly. As one becomes a senior member of this young field, great satisfaction comes from mentoring younger professionals. There is so much yet to do, so many problems we have not yet begun to solve. Kurt Hahn of Outward Bound once said that every young person needs a “grande passion,” a powerful cause to which he or she can become committed. At age 18 this became my grande passion; I am no longer young, but it is still “grande”.
Why not! Once in child and youth care work there was much to learn, to do differently at each new occasion, and keep on searching for new opportunities to share my experience and conviction with an ever widening circle. I oscillated quite a bit between direct care involvement, supervising, training and educating others as well as viewing from afar in research and in considerable writing for publication. Naturally, it is very satisfactory to see one’s thoughts in print; but essentially I think my mind, my hands, and my satisfactions continually reflected my “being in the thick with the kids.” Their daily struggles with the minutiae of everyday life was also my own, in part for their sake, but I am sure also for my own and our society’s. How could I leave with so much yet to be learned and to be done!
Interviews with Leaders. Journal of Child and Youth Care Work, Volume 7, 1991, pp.41–54