I think the students did well tonight. For many of my volunteers, it was a first-time experience, and they learned a lot while having a good time. Not perfect, of course, but a steep curve, and room for improvement tomorrow.
I think that a dry run or dress rehearsal or preview is always a good idea when running an event like this, particularly with students. Also, having ample adult supervision is key, as is having a solid but flexible plan. I think, too, that it’s important not to lose sight of the overall goals: raising money for a good cause, giving kids valuable experience, and providing the community with a fun seasonal activity.
Tonight, and during the six hours of set-up, I saw kids problem-solve to improve their displays and optimize their resources. I advised adolescents and teens on their aesthetic choices, discussing the potential impact of the various options, and saw them learn to work with individuals they’d never talked to before, even going to the same school. I saw lightbulbs go on, smiles of comprehension, relief at having made a good decision that solved a problem, and increasing confidence in their own abilities. A lot of experimenting with teamwork and leadership, deadlines and limited resources, special effects and makeup and costuming. A lot of growing with communication and creativity and time management.
Of course, the degree to which I witnessed this kind of development varied from individual to individual. And that’s okay. I am learning, too, to accept that I can’t control everything, to trust that the kids have things in hand, that the adults are also going to follow-through (no micro-managing!), and even though mistakes will be made, the world will not end and the event will not be ruined. Letting go of control, letting it be, is hard for me. I’m a perfectionist. But I think I’m growing with that, too.
So, tomorrow night, (as I’ve told the kids), we will continue to improve. We’ll fix some lighting and smoke machine issues, work on storytelling, and rotate some roles. There will continue to be challenges and we will sort them out. But just about all of our sixty-odd visitors left pleased after their walk through our haunted halls, and the kids had a great time scaring them, and we can’t ask for greater success than that.
Now I’m just crossing my fingers that I got some / enough good footage . . .