Youth work

The 16 Guidelines can function as a particularly helpful framework and tool for young people who are in the process of establishing identity, exploring relationships, and articulating aspirations. The universal nature of the words and concepts on which the 16 Guidelines are based have proved particularly helpful in enabling young people from diverse cultures and backgrounds to share and discuss their values with each other.


16 Guidelines facilitator and Youth worker Craig Mackie first started using the 16 Guidelines in his work in 2008 at the Pine River Institute, a residential treatment facility in Canada for 14-19 year-olds with addiction and mental health issues. When Craig left Pine River he took his 16 Guidelines experience with him into his roles as Director of Inner City Programs and Director of Programs at Christie Lake Kids, a residential camp for economically disadvantaged children in the Ottawa area which focuses on building character through activities that develop competence, confidence and skill. In March 2014 the Christie Lake STAR programme (Skills through Activity and Recreation) was awarded the CHEO Healthy Kids Award – a Community Program Award.

Since 2013 Craig has been a teacher on the Inter-professional Applied Mindfulness Meditation Certificate Program, Factor-Inwentash Faculty of Social Work at the University of Toronto, which has used the 16 Guidelines as a basis for the programme.


At Christie Lake Kids, the 16 Guidelines provided a framework for staff to speak and act more intentionally about their strengths, and about the values and practices needed to create a nurturing and transformative culture at the camp. Each year, Craig led 3 sessions before camp, and 3 workshops throughout the summer, in which over 80 staff - including 20 senior staff members – were trained to use the 16 Guidelines on both a daily and a weekly basis. The 16 Guidelines were used as a tool to set goals and intentions for building character throughout the camp, and also to facilitate meetings, particularly when there were challenging situations.

Character development had always been an integral part of Christie Lake Kid’s ninety years of rich history. Nevertheless, introducing a comprehensive set of values and practices such as the 16 Guidelines seems to have heightened the organization’s ability to become more aware and intentional in building a positive culture. The 16 Guidelines programme allowed staff members to focus on guidelines that were strengths, while challenging them to learn and develop new skills. Many staff remarked that it’s most positive achievements was to build a common vocabulary, which nicely complemented concepts and practices that already existed.

Sample Activity

Loyalty hands

1. Hand a piece of paper to each participant and have them trace their own hand on it. This is their loyalty hand, on which they will write the names of people who are important to them.

2. Ask each participant to write at least one name on each finger, as follows:

  • Thumb: Someone who is loyal to you (yeah, thumbs up all the time!)
  • Index: Someone who you go to for support (the go to!)
  • Middle: Someone for whom you have mutual respect (the opposite of middle finger)
  • Ring: Someone you feel connected to (soul mates!)
  • Pinky (little finger): Someone you trust (pinky swear you will not tell anyone this secret…)

If appropriate, the same names can be written on more than one finger.

3. If there’s time, invite participants to fill in the rest of the hand with the names of the people that they are loyal to.

4. Each participant cuts out their filled-in hand, holds it up, and gives themselves a pat on the back. “These are your people, some past, some present, and some future!”

Debrief question for the group:

  1. How does it feel to look at this hand?
  2. Do you notice any themes?
  3. Are there any surprises: either in the people who are on there, or the people who have been left off?
  4. What do you now know about loyalty?

For more information on Craig’s work and to contact him please visit his website: You can also download the first 10 pages of the youth manual here.

What next if you want to use the 16G with young people?

Participate in a 16 Guidelines workshop Level 1, BoB and Level 2 yourself, as an educator or youth worker or college administrator. After building confidence and familiarity, you are welcome to share or adapt what you have learned in your own educational setting.

Request a 16G workshop that is specifically tailored to the needs of your school, college or youth gorup by contacting the 16G Programme Manager This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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