In joining the AmeriCorps Leadership and Conservation Program at Mile High Youth Corps, I wanted to somehow help create a difference in the world around me. This is a common theme experienced by all the new Corpsmembers joining MHYC. We all came in on the first day of orientation, not knowing what to expect and wondering what exactly we had committed to. From the first (of many) silly and somewhat embarrassing icebreakers and team builders we took part in, I was able to see the diversity, strength and passion our group has. I was also surprised at how willing everyone was to put themselves out on a limb and show their true colors (mainly by “yee-hawing” as loudly as possible, searching for a man that has gone overboard, and challenging each other to intense games of rock, paper, scissors).
We were able to endure all the paperwork and sitting through trainings (hey, didn’t we sign up to haul toilets or do something with chainsaws?) by keeping our main objective in clear sight: get things done. I now see the importance of participating in all the team builders and icebreakers before we actually start working together. We have been able to start learning each other’s personalities and have some glimpses of everyone’s odd quirks and sense of humor. This is vital in being able to communicate and efficiently get jobs done, all while keeping things entertaining.
The highlight of orientation thus far has really been getting to know all the people involved with this organization and the reasons why they are here. There are so many diverse people with vastly different backgrounds and life experiences all coming to gather in Denver to create or experience some form of change. Just in our first week here at MHYC, we have had the ability to hold an open forum to throw around ideas and opinions (sometimes on taboo topics) with great maturity and respect for whatever another person has to say. Not too many places outside of an academic setting can say that they are able to do so while still maintaining relative peace amongst the people. Personally, I have found this to not only be refreshing, but also showing much optimism and hope for the future, even in this somewhat cynical world we live in. So many possibilities arise out of seemingly simple discussions and can create a spark in someone to go forth and act on that small idea.
If I had to choose my favorite moments of the first week, they would be (in no particular order):
– Sitting down for the first time and looking around at the 13 other ACLC’s I would be getting to know and love while sharing this great experience over the next 10 months
– Running (and driving) around Denver for a challenging (and occasionally chaotic) scavenger hunt! (GO TEAM SHAMWOW!)
– Trying on the snazzy, matching uniforms that we will be living in for the next 10 months and realizing that we are all in this together
– Figuring out how to drive a 12-passenger van without having your passengers randomly break out in fits of screaming
– Bob’s somewhat frightening, but completely necessary safety talk (complete with hand-drawn, bloody illustrations including a gravestone)
Really, there is no way to put into words how I am feeling about being a part of this team and all that I have already experienced. It has really been so much more than I expected. All I can say is, I can’t wait to see what comes next.
-Stephanie Stocking, ACLC