Aging Out: From YouthCO to OldCO

Aging Out: From YouthCO to OldCO

BY DIRCEU CAMPOS

YouthCO’s legal mandate as a youth-driven organization necessitates that all board members and support members be under the age of 30. There is a little more leeway when it comes to staff and volunteers, who are technically able to stay involved into their 30s. None do, however, and this is a testament to their commitment to keep YouthCO an organization run by and for youth. This article explores the emotions around “aging out”, by our long-time administrator Dirceu Campos, who will be turning 30 this year.

Thirty! The big ‘Three-Oh’! As in; no longer ‘29 and under.’ I feel like I am about to leave high school all over again. After five years of being involved with YouthCO it seems that the time is quickly approaching for me to move on. I always knew this was coming; aging out in general gets mentioned around the office one way or another pretty much every day. The more I talk about moving on with volunteers, community partners and staff, the more people seem to say; “yeah but, you don’t have to leave right away”. I consider this every time and the more I think about it, the more I think I do have to go. Not because I am being ousted or ostracized for being old (ha!). I feel that YouthCO works so well for young people because it provides us with opportunities that would be given to people with more skill and experience in the ‘real world’. Read: older. I have heard people call being youth-driven ‘ageist’ but I think the real ageism happens when youth are not given opportunities to excel or fail and learn from mistakes made. Being in the same position for four years, I have seen the agency change dramatically. Grow dramatically. Employees keep getting younger and younger while I keep getting older and older. I suppose you can call it evolution, and now I am the dinosaur!

At first I was hesitant to want to give up the good thing I have going on here; I have a challenging yet fun job where I can talk about sex pretty much all the time with other amazing young people who are passionate about what they do. Why give that up to go work in some boring office somewhere just because I happen to be three decades old? It dawned on me that working here has been a gift and I need to pay it forward to the next young person to come along as it was shared with me.

One of the biggest changes that I have witnessed come about in YouthCO’s office culture has been staff and board committing to succession planning. I think that succession planning is extremely important to the continued growth of the agency as there can be so much that is lost when one person leaves a position with no record of the things they have learned. Sometimes this is unavoidable, but having a clear plan as to how you will introduce the next person in your position can definitely lessen the reliving of past dramas. I say this as I begin my own succession plan and start to feel stressed out about how to pass all my learnings on. With a lot of mixed feelings I start my final couple of months at YouthCO. I am excited to start a new ‘adult’ chapter of my life and I am sad to leave a place that is so vibrant and full of youthful energy. Of course I will still be involved as an alumni and donor and hopefully community partner. At the same time, I know I will never work somewhere quite like this again so I cherish my time here like it is going away… because it is.

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Comments
One Response to “Aging Out: From YouthCO to OldCO”
  1. Dirceu … NOOO! Say it ain’t so! I can’t imagine YouthCO without you. But yes, I guess if I’m turning 30 this year, that means you are too … 😉 Keep in touch. We’ll see you around right?

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