This past fall Evan came home from school with the sign up flier for Destination Imagination. He had decided that he wanted to participate this year. I was a little surprised because we had been asking him for years if he wanted to do it. It seemed like something that would be right smack dab in the middle of his wheelhouse, but until then he never showed any interest.
The fact that Spencer had done it three different years and two of the three had made it to State finals set his expectations very high. None of the six kids in his group had ever participated before and his coaches were new as well. He didn't even really know any of the kids that were in his group but that didn't discourage him one bit. I explained over and over to him that just because Spencer's group advanced didn't mean their team would - he should be doing it for the fun of it - not for the bright lights of the casino at State finals.
He really liked his group and the rehearsals but he would come home and tell me that they didn't really work on much and that they were horrible at instant challenges and I would keep telling him as long as they were having fun it didn't matter how well they did.
After months of rehearsals the day of regionals finally came. All the kids in the group were so nervous and scared of messing up. They all had their hopes set on moving on to State. I was envisioning a huge let down and already working on my pep talk for Evan.
They did a great job with their skit. It was such a cute story- it was about the sun being too bright so it had to send some rays off to vacation island for a few years. Then as the older rays got "burnt out" and ready to retire the vacationing young rays had to come back and take their place. One of the young ones had a fear of growing up - that was the gist of their whole challenge - it was called Feary Tales. They had to take a fear and figure out how to conquer it in a creative story.
Evan's character was obsessed with Irish step dancing. (I have know idea how he came up with that). He watched step dancing on the internet and came up with a little ditty that he danced during the skit.
We went back for the regional awards assembly that night and I was hoping they would get an honorable mention for all their hard work. The three top teams get to advance to state but since their were so many teams in their competition (another reason I didn't have much hope) they were going to send the top four placing teams. I told Evan that was good news because their chances were a little better then. They started calling honorable mentions and they were not one. They called fourth place. Not them. Third place. Not them. Now I was starting to panic a bit because I thought they didn't even place. I couldn't believe that they were that bad. Second place. Not them. It was such a weird feeling of panic and elation because...First place....NO! Is it really them? It was!!!
We were so shocked and thrilled. I swear I almost started bawling. Seeing them all run down and get their medals was so awesome!
Fast forward a month and a half to the state competition. The tweaked a few things with their skit and once again did an awesome job with it.
They looked confident coming out after their Instant Challenge. Parents are not allowed to watch this part and the kids have to sign a confidentiality waiver that they won't tell about it since everyone does the same challenge.
We didn't know what to expect from scores. We all had sort of high expectations since the raw scores from regionals had shown that the kids would be in second place in the state if all things from regionals were equal with state. It is always an electric environment on the campus and you get caught up in the pageantry of it all. It is a really cool thing to experience - I can't even imagine how cool it much seems to the kids participating.
They ended up with an honorable mention at state. They were sixth place out of thirteen which is a good solid middle of the pack finish. Looking at the published scores it turns out that they kind of bombed their Instant Challenge - the skit was almost scored as well as it was at regionals. The Instant is hard because it is thinking on your feet and you have to have a group that can fall right into their strength areas and their team has struggled with them from day one.
Evan was extremely disappointed with the finish. After the awards we headed back to the hotel so the kids could go to the arcade and he was noticeably silent for the first time of the whole weekend. Hailey tried to cheer him up by saying that at least they got to stand up at the awards and be clapped for - some didn't even get to do that. He wasn't really having any of it. He told her to imagine if she had worked hard on something for like six months to have it all end in failure - how would she feel. We tried to explain to him that they were far from failure. They got to the State finals and they finished with an honorable mention at the State level - that is pretty darn good for a first year team.
It took him a couple days to process it all but he is feeling much better about it now. I think he may be hooked on DI for life. He is already telling us that he wants to do it again next year. The other night when I was tucking him into bed he asked me if I remembered how I told him that one good thing about not advancing was that he didn't have to go to practice after school anymore. I couldn't help but hug him tighter when I could hear the catch in his voice as he told me he really liked the practices and he would miss them.
I would say he had a great experience with Destination Imagination.