When I was a teenager, one of my favorite school activities was Destination Imagination. If you’re not familiar, it’s a program based in creative problem solving and STEAM-based learning (though I did it way back before “STEAM” was what it was called…). My friends and I would receive a Challenge and create the entire solution ourselves. No outside assistance allowed! As an adult, I realize that participating in this organization taught me so many valuable skills.
– Our solutions had strict budgets. Creating the costumes and props we wanted forced us to be very resourceful. There were a lot of thrift store hunts and using recyclable materials. We could make pretty much anything out of duct tape.
– Our solutions had time limits. We would go through endless drafts of our presentations to make sure we were communicating with precision and efficiency. We had to make bold character choices. Most importantly, we had to trust each other enough to make those choices quickly. We had each other’s backs, whatever happened.
– There was no one path to making our solutions. We had to learn about lots of new stuff. I have fond memories of building rockets and musical instruments and lighting effects. I remember researching Egyptian art and classic fairy tales and improv techniques and simple machines. The research and the experimenting didn’t feel like a chore – it felt like a way to reach our goal.
If you’re reading this and thinking, “Wow, Kelsey, this program sounds a lot like you,” you’d be right. I’m certain that being involved in Destination Imagination was crucial in forming the creative mind I have today. What an opportunity. What a joy.
A few years ago, I decided it was time to get involved in DI again. I had the great pleasure of joining Team Imagination – which develops new challenges for the teams to solve. The experience is just like being on a team again, with that same spirit of collaboration. Dozens of people contributed to this year’s new set of challenges, and I’m very proud to be one of them.
Cheers to all the people who make opportunities like Destination Imagination available to young people.