CAMP mentorship, changing the world together

By Roxann Elliott, incoming JAWS Operations Director

Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match…

As we gear up for CAMP 2017, we’re once again calling for CAMPers to step up to the plate as mentors for their fellow journalists over the weekend in Hot Springs, Ark.

From Oct. 27-29 we’ll learn, laugh, complain, and connect—and the whole shebang revolves around building meaningful relationships (and wine, let’s be real). This is your chance to sign up to mentor a fellow JAWS member or to request a mentorship for the CAMP weekend.

As the incomparable Liz Seegert pointed out: “It wouldn’t be CAMP without mentoring. (It would be CAP, which doesn’t make much sense.)”

Journalism and Women Symposium is more than a professional organization. The founders of JAWS understood how crucial shared experience, support, and camaraderie were to women in any field—and so mentorship has been a central component of JAWS since the beginning.

Whether you’ve been in the trenches for 4 years or 40, whether you’re on staff or freelance, so many of you have experience and institutional knowledge that can’t be taught in a classroom. And, as any teacher knows, you’re likely to learn just as much from your mentees as they learn from you.

The challenges faced by women in the field are unique, and whether you feel you’re a subject-matter expert or not, I guarantee you’ve seen some things. Maybe you’ve struggled to balance work and your personal life, or have survived on a low salary or unreliable freelance income. Perhaps you’ve faced gender or race discrimination—no matter how subtle—in pay, work assignments or editorial decisions.

Share your stories. Mentoring goes beyond technical skills—it’s that intangible, unquantifiable life experience each of us has earned the hard way. The experience you’ve probably never consciously thought about, but that could serve to empower countless women.

This is also a call for any up-and-coming journalists—or professionals looking to shift their focus—to sign up for mentorship. We welcome anyone seeking guidance, but we also don’t want anyone selling themselve short. You know more than you realize, and while “mentor” sounds like a rather formal title, the relationships formed between mentors and mentees are far more equitable than you may realize.

So, if you’d like to team up with a fellow CAMPer for the weekend, please complete this brief form by Oct. 13.

Once these forms are in, our team of journo-yentas will combine and tabulate your answers to match the perfect mentoring pairs as quickly as possible. We’ll then contact you with the information on your partner-in-crime (or partner-in-wine) so that you can connect before CAMP and plan your shenanigans.

Many CAMP mentorship pairs form lasting bonds and continue sharing their struggles and successes throughout the year – and we encourage you to share those stories with us! It’s a program we’re honored to host, and we hope you’ll step up to make the most out of a brief time spent with such amazing journalists.