Being organized is being in control. For eighteen year old Katie Kerrivan, organization is the key to tackling her very large to do list.
When Katie isn’t busy heading up a community outreach project at school, you might find her participating in a number of scouting activities, including canoeing, camping, or hiking in the Adirondack Mountains. A pretty cool hobby, I’d say.
As if she isn’t busy enough, you might also find Katie on the marching band practice field in the percussion section, marching to the beat of a drum.
Up to this point, all of our Exceptional Teens have come from the U.S. – until now. There are exceptional teens all over the world, and this particular young lady comes from Canada. I hope you enjoy reading all about Katie, this month’s talented, artistic, outdoor-loving exceptional teen.
Q: How did you first get interested and involved in the Scouts Canada program? At what age were you when you first started?
A: My brother had joined Beavers, which is the first level of Scouting, when he was 5 and I watched him going to all the meetings and camps and having a ton of fun. I wanted to be a part of that and looked forward to joining Beavers as soon as I was able.
Scouting had officially become co-ed the year I was born, so there was no issue with me joining Beavers as soon as I was five. So that’s what I did.
Q: What are some of your favorite aspects and experiences you’ve had with the Scouts Canada organization through the years?
A: One of the best parts of scouting is the friends I’ve made. I’ve known some of my friends since we were in Beavers together and we worked our way through the program at the same pace. This year we actually worked at the same summer camp.
The best experiences I’ve had are the camping trips, though last summer I went to Japan for the World Scouting Jamboree and I met so many cool people and did some awesome activities that I would never have been able to do anywhere else.
Even the camping trips that are just a few people canoeing through Killarney Park or hiking in the Adirondack Mountains are so much fun. Camping has always been one of my favourite things to do.
Q: Tell us about your experiences as a scouting summer camp counselor.
A: For the past two summers, I’ve been a counselor at Camp Opemikon. It’s such a fun job; as a counselor I get to hang out with kids for six weeks while teaching them about nature, camping, archery, canoeing, hiking and all kinds of cool things that we just don’t learn at school.
We teach kids to light fires and safely use then to cook, which they always have fun learning. And the staff team at Opemikon grows so close during the six weeks we work together that it really makes the experience fantastic for everyone involved. Most of us have been campers and have grown up with camp in our lives so being on the staff team is incredibly exhilarating.
Q: What is the extent of your involvement in the implementation and supervision of the Best Buddies program in your high school? Tell us a little about that organization.
A: Best Buddies is a program intended to create a more accepting atmosphere at schools and in communities for people with intellectual disabilities.
Everyone who joins the program has a buddy they can hang out with, inside or outside of school. There are group activities in school, and chapters from different schools in the same city hold events together.
My friend and I were asked if we would be the Co-Presidents this past year, even though we were in grade twelve, because the teachers wanted people who knew the culture of the school really well. We did most of the planning for events and meetings that were held.
Q: I know you are a percussionist in the band. What is your favorite thing about participating in your high school marching band?
A: I really love the sense of community within a high school band. Everyone helps each other out with balancing practice and homework and social lives.
Each section has its own specific family feel, but at the end of the day everyone works together to make the songs sound the way they should. We all get up early for morning practices and stay up late on after-school practice days.
I like to bring cookies in on morning practices because often people don’t have time to eat breakfast before they get to school and the cookies motivate people to actually wake up that early and go spend the extra time at school.
Q: What are some of your other passions and interests?
A: I love art. I don’t have a specific medium that I prefer, but painting, sculpting, and pastels are some of my favourites.
I’ve been taking art class for the past four years, which has helped me improve my artistic skill. When I started, I may have been interested in doing art, but I had very little skill with a paintbrush or a pencil. Now I’ve done a self-portrait that actually looks like me, which is definitely an accomplishment I never thought I would achieve.
Q: What is the biggest obstacle you have ever had to overcome?
A: I guess the biggest obstacle I’ve ever had to overcome is myself, if that makes sense. I have a habit of doubting my ability to accomplish things even if I’ve done it before, and I also have a streak of laziness that can really get in the way of doing things that I should be doing, and even things I want to do.
The combination of doubt and being lazy really gets me into trouble when it comes to organizing events through Scouting or doing my homework.
Q: What problems exist for teens now that you think did not exist for your parents when they were teens?
A: I feel as though there is a lot of pressure on teens now that did not exist before. There’s a pressure to be connected constantly to what’s going on in the world. As soon as something happens anywhere, we know about it from the pictures and videos online.
There’s a pressure (for today’s teenagers) to be connected constantly to what’s going on in the world.
Adults grew up in a world where the television, radio, and newspapers were the only places news came from. With the internet, it’s a lot harder to ignore things that can cause distress because we never know what will pop up online. We can’t just change channels or turn it off, because it’s still there when we come back.
We might log in to see pictures of a friend, and scroll down to see destruction. It’s shocking, and not easy for someone to change gears so rapidly. As teenagers, we’re still learning how to be adults and how to function as people, so that kind of sudden exposure can really mess with how we learn and how we think.
Q: What is a really important lesson you have learned during the past year?
A: Be organized. If I don’t organize myself and my time, then things get left to the last minute and then it’s stressful. Or thing don’t get done at all, which is a disappointment and can impact other people as much as it impacts me.
Q: What are your plans for the future?
A: I’m taking a year off from school so I can save up money, focus on finishing some of my volunteer roles within scouting, and get a better idea of what I want to do in school.
I’m thinking a major in psychology would be cool, and when I’m done I could either go into teaching or art therapy. I haven’t fully decided quite yet what I’m interested in pursuing.
What an amazing, level-headed teen! I read with empathy about her greatest obstacle she has overcome – herself. How many of us struggle with the same kinds of issues? I would estimate that a lot of us, adults included, would have to admit to having similar obstacles.
I have no doubt that Katie will be successful in whatever she decides to tackle in her life, and taking a year off to earn money and decide on her path shows maturity and wisdom. Good luck to Katie in all her endeavors. I am looking forward to seeing what she will do!
Do you have an exceptional teen?
If you have or know of a teen who is exceptional – whether it be in school with academics, music talent, sports, heroic deeds, community service, or anything else that would make him or her stand out – I want to hear about it!
Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org to tell me a little bit about your situation. Give a quick sentence or two about why your teen is exceptional. I will be in touch with you with an emailed list of interview questions your teen can answer and send back to me. The world needs to know there are wonderful kids out there doing outstanding, praiseworthy activities. I would love to feature your exceptional teen.
Also, leave a comment in the section below if you enjoyed reading about Katie.
Check out our other exceptional teen features. We’re showing the world how great kids are – one teenager at a time!