Have you heard of this Odyssey of the Mind thing?

So it’s apparently a big deal.  My daughter has a couple of friends who have been doing it the last few year so she thought she’d join their team this year. Unfortunately their team was booked up so she was added to a team of unknowns.  I was actually hoping she’d get discouraged and not go on with it because middle school homework, friends and projects are PLENTY.  But she bucked up and decided to continue and meet new people.

One day a few weeks ago she asked in passing if I’d be interested in being one of the coaches or assistant coaches or something.  “Baby,” I said, “I barely know anything about it. You’d have to get your teacher or whomever to email me some information so I could learn more.”

Last week I got an email alright.  One that started off, “Thank you for volunteering!”

“HARPER!” I yelled down the stairs as I read this email.  “WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO ME?!”

So I ended up going to the coaches meeting the next day and here I am.  It turned out that there were seven of these kids on her team and if I didn’t say yes that evening then the team would be disbanded.  Fine.  I’ll do it.  But don’t think I won’t hold this over her head!  Bwa-ha-ha-ha!

This morning they all came over with at least one parent each and we all went over introductions and the problem and the schedule and whatnot.  They seem like super great kids and by the end of the hour they were already hugging and sharing contact info and were sad to say goodbye!

Anyway, OM is this thing where each team gets a “problem” that they have the next few months to solve.  The big show is in March.  Some problems are more engineering with a bit of performance and some are more performance.  Ours is the latter. On the day they also will get a “spontaneous” challenge which could also be more verbal or more hands-on.  So you can’t practice for that directly but you can practice similar challenges to train them to work as a team and their creative brains.

The hardest part will be not allowing myself to help in any way.  I’m supposed to organize things and manage and whatnot but I can’t have any direct input.  If they want me to show them some skill, like sewing or cutting a PVC pipe or something, I can do that.  But they have to then take the skill and do whatever they’re going to do with it.  So it’s like the opposite of teaching in a way.

It’s going to be something.  I don’t know what yet.  But it’ll sure be an adventure.


4 thoughts on “Have you heard of this Odyssey of the Mind thing?

  1. Hmmm. I started coaching cross country when MY daughter wanted me to… Six years ago! Still, I’ll take running around in the rain and mud over academic competitions after having been sucked into Future Cities years ago. Best of luck, and watch your blood pressure.

  2. I ran OM at my school for many years. I think it’s a wonderful program, great for the students, and very difficult to coach for just the reason you mentioned. We sent many teams to the regional competition but never made it to nationals. We did get a third place trophy once at regionals which sits proudly on my desk to this day.

    My advice, always ask the team how they can make their presentation bigger. Kids have a tendency to work small but the bigger the sets, the bigger the props, the louder they are the better.

    Have fun.

    1. Thanks for the tip. That sounds like a good one. I’ve searched on YouTube for similar presentations and now that you mention it I do see what you mean. Louder and clearer is better. And I’m thinking big but less because some of the backdrops are too intricate for their own good. Big and bold sounds about right.

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