Gary Gordon, 72, has celebrated his fourth year mentoring Dante, who is now 14, and he thinks the youth of today are fantastic.
The New Plymouth District Council's Big Brother Big Sister community programme marked the milestone of six mentors and their "little siblings" reaching their fourth anniversary with a tree planting at Lake Rotomanu yesterday.
The programme matches children with volunteer adult mentors in professionally supported one-to-one relationships.
The council provided the land and trees, which were planted on the Waiwhakaiho side of the lake.
Mr Gordon showed his "little brother", Dante, how to loosen the roots of a rewarewa seedling before they placed it in the ground.
Big Brothers Big Sisters co-ordinator Sara Bright said the trees were symbolic of the growth and development of the relationships.
"It provides a place for them to return to in years to come."
Mr Gordon said the learning experience for him and Dante had been mutual.
"I've learnt a lot from him as he's learnt a lot from me."
He said hanging out with a 14-year-old taught him greater communication skills.
"I've learnt to listen, to ask him what he thinks, where he's going."
Mr Gordon said as a father, he worked too hard and did not spend enough time with his children, so he valued the time spent interacting with a young person.
They do activities such as 10-pin bowling and going to shows, and on Saturdays, they visit the library.
"Nowadays, he's like most 14-year-olds, mad on computers.
"He goes on the computers with his friends and I read the business magazine."
Mr Gordon said the interaction with a young person once a week was refreshing.
"I'm a great believer in the young people of today, I think the youth are fantastic.
"There's the odd monster, but that's always been the case."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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