Ryan was excited when he handed me his Destination Imagination sign up form this morning. Destination Imagination is a really great afterschool program where teams of kids choose a challenge (the choices are generally STEM, Art, or Service Related) and work to build a solution to that challenge. In March, they present their solutions at regional tournaments where they are scored on their creativity, workmanship, and teamwork. It is a great opportunity for kids to take the lead, learn to work as a team, and let their creativity fly.
Last year was Ryan’s first year participating in Destination Imagination. It is the perfect afterschool activity for him, but it wasn’t available at his previous school. I co-managed his team, and it was a great chance to see how he grew and really thrived over the course of the year as a result of his participation. The challenge really pushed all of the kids on the team to work hard and grow. As a coach, it was my job to help facilitate their work and keep them focused, but not interfere with their work (all of the work on the challenge solution needs to be student-directed).
Ryan’s team chose the Service challenge and decided to raise money for the local dog park by hosting a school dance. It was a very successful night, and it was great for the kids to see what they could accomplish.
After they hosted the dance and raised money, they had to create a skit that included clues to perform at the tournament. The kids worked hard and came in second place at the regional tournament, which earned them a place at States. Although they did not win at States, they gave their best performance yet and I was so proud of them. Participating in DI gave Ryan a great sense of accomplishment and an opportunity to let his creativity soar while working with a team.
I am thrilled that he hopes to do DI again this year, although I don’t think I will be signing up to coach this time. It was a great experience but a lot of work, and I just don’t have the time this year now that Saoirse is older and has her own activities as well. It also doesn’t help that my appendix ruptured during their State tournament (though I obviously didn’t know that was the problem at the time) and I spent a very long tournament day helping kids while dealing with terrible pain. I think I might like to take a year off and enjoy the tournament from the perspective of a parent this time, not a coach (unless they really need a coach).