Creativity, Odyssey of the Mind

The Climb

Hello Again!

I’m back….and I have to tell you that I’ve really missed this blog! My Blog Break turned out to be a week longer than I had planned. To those of you that stopped by, I’m sorry you were left in the blog darkness. I didn’t mean to leave you there with an empty pit in your stomach waiting to read my writing words of wisdom…

Okay, so I know it really wasn’t like that. I’m sure no one’s day was left empty because I didn’t write my Wednesday post. In truth, I was sad that I didn’t post. After connecting with all of you every Wednesday for the last 8 months, it just felt weird. Very weird.

It’s always good to take a break though. Especially with a story you’ve written. I proved that to myself again this week because during my Blog Break, I was incredibly busy with other things. But now I feel refreshed and ready to dive back into blogging…and writing.

Before I do though, because I promised, I’ll tell you a little bit about my break over the last two weeks…

In an earlier post, I mentioned that my Odyssey of the Mind team had their first competition coming up. The kids on my team had been working incredibly hard since September on a problem they chose to solve. You can read more about that in my earlier post. (One day I’ll learn how to link up my earlier posts so that you can find them without scrolling back through each one. Not today though!) Anyway, the last two weeks have been crunch time—time spent putting finishing touches on costumes and sets, filling out required paperwork, rehearsing and practicing spontaneous problems.

I love this time of year because you can feel the energy practically oozing from the kids.  Besides, I love seeing their creative ideas come to life and I love seeing the pride in their faces when they see what they’ve accomplished.  I promised you an update on how the competition day went, so here it is…

Last Saturday, my sleepy team met at my house at 5:30am and off we went armed with a truck load of sets, props, costumes and very little sleep to a school district across town where the competition was held.  After arriving at the site before the doors were even unlocked, the kids unloaded it all, set everything up, changed into costumes, and practiced one time before they were set to compete at 8:00am in front of family, friends, teachers and judges.

And boy did they perform! They performed on that high school stage better than they ever had in practice. They were loud. They were clear. They were funny. Their set looked bright and big. Their costumes looked colorful and adorable. Their moving set piece worked on cue. They remembered every line. Their finale dance was a crowd pleaser. These 5 kids were amazing. And I was so very proud.

Most importantly though, my team was proud of themselves. They had worked months to create a solution to a problem and present it in the form of a play. And that’s what they did. But that was only the first part of the competition. The next part was still to come…

After posing for pictures, the kids changed into their school Odyssey of the Mind t-shirts with their signature long sleeve white shirts and jeans. We headed over to the elementary school for the spontaneous portion of the competition. The kids were led into a classroom with a team of judges and given a problem to solve on the spot. It may have been a verbal question or it may have been a hands- on (building type) problem, or even a combination of both.

I don’t know what their question was. They are sworn to secrecy until all the regional competitions are over at the end of the month. I do know this though. My team went into that room pumped and ready to solve that problem with more creativity than they ever had before. Fifteen minutes later, they exited that room with faces that revealed exactly the opposite. I knew they couldn’t tell me what the problem was. But as I’ve asked them in competition so many times over the last five years, “Thumbs up? Thumbs down? Somewhere in the middle?”   

They barely gave a thumb in the middle. They didn’t smile. Their faces were white and blank. My heart sunk to my feet. I’m certain theirs had sunk there too.

I’m not sure why they thought they had done so poorly. All they could manage to tell me was, “It was really hard.”

As I said before, my team is not new to this competition. After five years at the regional competition, three trips to the state competition and one unforgettable trip to the World Finals, they’ve been given countless spontaneous problems in competition. They have a good feel for when they do well, and a good feel for when they don’t.

With hours to go until the award ceremony, we did what any great team does. We reflected about how much fun it was to work on their solution throughout the year, and how awesome it was to perform on that beautiful, brand new stage. We talked about how proud I was of them for all their creative ideas, hard work, teamwork, and I thanked them for letting me be a part of it.

And then came the most fun of all…We watched teams who were still competing. We watched performances by high school teams that were inspiring. Maybe some of them might someday be on Broadway! We watched little kids drive hand-made cars through team- created obstacles. We watched judges place weights on structures that teams had spent months building.

It was a great reminder to me that when kids are allowed to be creative, they can create amazing things!

Finally, it was time for the awards ceremony. The focus of this competition is not on winning, yet ribbons and trophies for 1st– 5th place are given. Only teams that place first will advance to the next level: the State Competition.The kids were nervous. I knew why. For the last three years in a row, they had advanced to the NY State Competition. They were worried about their spontaneous score.  I was too. But maybe, just maybe it wasn’t as bad as they thought.

I realized at that awards ceremony, that I’m a competitive person. So are the kids on my team.  They wanted to win. They wanted to compete at the next level –to have another shot at the World Finals. After all their hard work, I wanted them to have another chance to perform for their families and the judges.  I wanted to see them in their adorable costumes and watch their finale dance.

But this year, that wasn’t meant to be. They came in second place.

Second. So close. An incredible accomplishment. I knew that. They knew that. Yet it wasn’t what they wanted.  And it was heartbreaking to watch. Disappointment is a hard thing to hide, especially in front of a lot of people. Yet they managed to do that with style. They ran down the bleacher steps to accept their ribbons and trophy. My son Adam even did a cartwheel across the gym floor on the way back-to the applause of hundreds of kids and parents and judges. They displayed tremendous sportsmanship, congratulating other teams who were moving on to States.

It turns out that Spontaneous is not entirely what caused my team to come in second place. Their scores showed they did a great job in that section. But another team did better. And another team did better in the long term solution performance. That left us in second place overall and even though it’s not first, it’s still a fantastic place to be!

And so during my Blog Break, I was reminded of one of my favorite songs by vintage Miley Cyrus….The Climb.  I guess if you write your story solely to get it published, you may be disappointed if you can’t reach that point. But if you write because you love to write, because you love the process–the whole journey of the thing, then you’ll never be disappointed.     

I hope all my Odyssey team members and all my writer friends can remember that too. If you create something just to win, you may be disappointed, but if you create something because you love to create- whether it’s songs or stories or sets or costumes, you’ll never be disappointed to see your amazing results.

And so that’s our Odyssey story, and here’s a bit of The Climb….

For Adam, Kara, Jake, Julia and Ryan~ the creative kids who inspire me 🙂

There’s always gonna be another mountain,

I’m always gonna want to make it move.

It’s always gonna be an uphill battle,

Sometimes I’m gonna have to lose.


Ain’t about how fast I get there.

Ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side…

It’s the Climb.  


The struggles I’m facing,

The chances I’m taking,

Sometimes might knock me down but,

No, I’m not breaking.


I may not know it

But these are the moments

That I’m gonna remember most,

Just got to keep going

And I got to be strong

Just keep pushing on,


There’s always gonna be another mountain,

I’m always gonna want to make it move.

It’s always gonna be an uphill battle,

Sometimes I’m gonna have to lose.


Ain’t about how fast I get there.

Ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side…

It’s the Climb.  


6 thoughts on “The Climb”

  1. Such a great story! And an inspiration to all us Moms and kids… it’s the climb that matters, and what makes the journey the most fun!! Great job Odyssey team!

  2. Aww! Thank you Mrs. Yeager! That was really nice! And it was a really fun experience getting there. 5 years is a long time and I’m glad i did it for that long!

    1. Julia, you’re a gem! I’m so glad you did too. You made coaching so much fun. You always gave more than 100% and you put Sharpay to shame every single year too!! 🙂

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