Lessons on Accompaniment from Bagger Vance

At Nairn last weekend we spent some time talking about accompaniment.  Being with the young people in our groups, not to entertain them but to be with them on their journey.

These clips from The Legend of Bagger Vance seems to me to show the role of an accompanier.

The first clip is where Bagger (Will Smith) and Hardy are out pacing the course ahead of the match.

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In the second clip Junuh (Matt Damon) is struggling.  His new caddie, Bagger Vance, has watched him play the first of four rounds and let him make all the mistakes he can make.  Now Junuh is ready to listen, to hear and to accept Bagger’s advice.  Bagger starts the process of helping Junuh find his swing.

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The thing for me about these clips is that Bagger only gives advice when asked.  Advice comes as part of a conversation.  Hardy must enter into the scene and swing the club.  Bagger makes his comment about ‘the field’ but it’s then up to Junuh to respond.  How many times do we give advice to people who don’t need it or don’t want it?  Maybe it is good advice but just not the right time to give it.

Our role as youth workers is a privileged one.  Young people allow us to accompany them.  We need to make sure that we don’t misuse that position and that we are there for the long haul.

This clip comes three rounds later…

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We all fail.  We all fall down.  Who are the people who will pick us up?  Is that you?  Do we pick people up when they fall or do we criticise and blame people for not getting it right?

In the end Bagger leaves.  He leaves when Hardy is ready to take his place and when Junuh is ready to go on.  That’s what accompanying people is all about.  Traveling the part of the way we share.