Knights in Training

What is Knights in Training?

Knights in Training (KIT) is a hands-on Mentoring program in which participants learn life lessons through the game of chess. This unique Mentoring program is youth directed; it is guided by male Mentors fifteen years of age or older. The Mentors act as role models to younger boys aged ten to thirteen, known as Mentees, and use the game of chess to foster inclusion and offer opportunities for individual growth in decision making and character development.


While building their own chess board and individual chess pieces, the Mentees will learn how to follow a plan and build better relationships with their peers and Mentors while having the opportunity to discuss issues facing them today. In the game of chess, impulsive moves result in a quick defeat…. In life, reckless decisions often affect one’s future negatively.


In order to make the biggest impact, the mentors will teach the mentees about the Five Finger Commitment, relating each piece of a chess board to the values of Compassion, Identity, Goals, Commitment, and Safety.

Here’s how:

The Pawn represents Compassion. The Pawn is typically considered to be the most expendable game piece yet it can actually yield positive results if used effectively. It represents the little things that amount to greatness through persistence and the mentees will learn how little things like Compassion, kindness, friendliness and courage can make a major impact on those around them.


The Rook represents Identity. In chess, the Rook moves in straight lines, not allowing outside influences to change its course. KIT uses the Rook as a tool for reminding the mentees that it is important that they define who they are and surround themselves with people and activities that support their true Identity.


The Knight in the game of chess is a strategic piece that represents Commitment. In order to become a Knight, an individual spends the majority of this life assisting others and connecting to his community. KIT utilizes this relationship of Commitment and community service to emphasize the importance of the Knight.


The Bishop represents Safety. The Bishop move diagonally. Because the journey through adolescence is difficult, mentees will face challenges and pressures that may attempt to divert them off their path of success. The Bishop represents the importance of making safe decisions and positive choices.


Lastly, KIT relates the two most valuable players to Goals that the mentees want to achieve. The Queen can move in any direction on the chess board. She has unlimited choices and an advantage over all of the other pieces. This ability comes with a huge responsibility and therefore the Queen in KIT represents responsible decisions and the importance of positive influences. The King is the heart of the game and also represents Goals in KIT. He relies on all of his supporting pieces to attain the goal of victory. The mentees can relate the King’s ultimate success to the role that each individual piece played in order to achieve victory. Therefore, the mentees will find that their life choices-- whether small day-to-day choices of Compassion and kindness or big decisions like trying tobacco or drugs-- will ultimately impact their future. The goal of KIT is to provide the mentees with the tools and support system they will need to face difficult decisions. Given the strategies and confidence they gain from participating in KIT, the mentees will be empowered and have the courage to be the best that they can be.


The KIT mentors are committed to listening, supporting and caring for each mentee involved in the program. The mentors find a deeper sense of who they are, seeing firsthand the positive impact that their time and support have on younger boys. Also, the lesson plans teach positive messages to all participants, mentors and mentees alike, keeping both groups keen on being the best they can be.

Who should get involved?

This youth directed mentoring program is suited for males who want to make a difference in their community and commit themselves to making positive choices, and are at least fifteen years of age. The mentors need to be committed to listening, supporting and caring for each mentee involved in the program. By being a mentor, the lessons learned will work both ways; the mentors in this program will find a deeper sense of who they are, and see firsthand the positive impact that their time and support have on the mentees. Also, the lesson plans teach positive messages to all participants, mentors and mentees alike, and keep both groups keen on being the best they can be.


In order to become a mentor, the individuals go through a 15-hour training course, outlining the program, the lesson plans, and teaching communication, listening and other mentoring skills. The time Commitment for program delivery is approximately 2 hours per session for 10 sessions: 1 hour for the lesson delivery and 1 hour for preparation and closing group discussions. As a participating mentor, the future opportunities are endless. Volunteer Commitments to strengthen communities and support youth can result in scholarship nominations, potential career offers and local acknowledgment.

Mission Statement:

KIT is dedicated to helping young boys find a deeper sense of who they are by empowering them to be the best they can be. Using a character-based framework, the KIT program provides young boys with the tools necessary to respond favorably when faced with challenges.

Goals of the KIT Mentoring Program

  • Offer opportunities for individual growth in decision making
  • Character development
  • Foster inclusion
  • Build self-esteem at all levels