Tomorrow morning my Daughter, Maisie, and somewhere around 20 other Daughters will climb onto a bus for a drive to Detroit, Michigan.
She is a member of the Convent of the Visitation School “The Robettes, Team 2177” and they are going to the national robot competition to join over 400 other teams to compete for national honors.
Sponsored by FIRST ((For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) the national robotics competition is one part of its mission to “… inspire young people to be science and technology leaders and innovators, by engaging them in exciting Mentor-based programs that build science, engineering, and technology skills, that inspire innovation, and that foster well-rounded life capabilities including self-confidence, communication, and leadership.”
Attending a robotics competition is like going to a sporting event. The competition is fierce. The determination is real. The sense of purpose is clear.
The Visitation Team is an all-girl school and The Robettes are attending this year’s national competition because of their achievement in receiving the North Star Regional Chairman’s Award,
My Daughter, like all of the young women on The Robettes, is a hard worker. She embraces the entirety of the robotics competition from the very beginning of the process to the culmination of their national tournament participation over the next several days in Detroit.
If you want to the see the future of the United States and the world, just spend a few hours following The Robettes.
Remarkable young women who are working and learning together and care little for the notion that science and technology isn’t a traditional field for their women.
They are erasing gender lines every minute of every day and making it clear that girls and boys are only limited in their possibility by the false boundaries we place on them.
I write this at my kitchen table after having spent a weekend with another exceptional person in my life, my son, Owen. I, along with several other Moms and Dads and adult volunteers, had the privilege to lead dozens of U.S. Naval Sea Cadets during their April Drill Weekend at the Minnesota Army National Guard Arden Hills Army Training Site.
The NSCC Twin Cities Squadron is made up of young men and women from all over the Midwest. Some come from as far as Sioux Falls, South Dakota, or as close as 15 minutes away, to participate in this program that began in 1962.
Its mission today is to “further the image of our maritime services by adhering to a standardized training program designed to:
- Develop an interest and ability in seamanship and seagoing skills
- Instill virtues of good citizenship and strong moral principles in each cadet
- Demonstrate the value of an alcohol-free, drug-free and gang-free lifestyle
- Expose cadets to the prestige of public service and a variety of career paths through hands-on training with our nation’s armed services
I am always struck by my time with the Sea Cadets during drill weekends. I always learn something new about myself, but also about the unlimited potential of young men and women to make the world a better place.
Despite booming faces, and for many of the young men and women Sea Cadets a significant amount of responsibility placed on their shoulder, they are still kids.
Kids who have the same hopes and dreams of kids of previous generations.
They want to work hard. Achieve something. Make a difference. Matter in someone’s life.
Succeed in their life.
Both The Robettes and The NSCC Twin Cities Squadron Sea Cadets give a platform of possibility to young men and women.
The participants are all given the tools to forge a path of their own and adults, while standing by in the background to help guide, support and encourage try to remain largely in the background.
My goal in this blog post isn’t to market or promote either program, but to promote the young men and women who participate in them.
They are all remarkable. They all make a difference in the world. They will each have the opportunity to do amazing things.
Along their path in life they will be confront many of the same obstacles that young men and women before them have faced.
Too often those obstacles come from the adults in and out of the room.
What we say and write to and about the young men and women who come to participate in these programs, or any program, or just life itself, carries tremendous weight and influence.
What we say and write can either lift them up or crush them.
How we serve young people, and support them, allowing them the ability to succeed and the chance to fail, will play a role in their life now and long after they have gone on into their adult life.
I have watched my Daughter and The Robettes at their competitions and they are fierce, competitive, proud and kind to one another and their competitors.
I have watched my Son and the Twin Cities Squadron Sea Cadets and they are fierce, competitive, proud and kind to one another and their fellow Sea Cadets.
Not all the time. But most of the time.
Just like kids are in life.
Like kids are meant to be in life.
Like every kid from every generation since the beginning of time.
The challenge for the kids in The Robettes, or the Twin Cities Squadron Sea Cadets isn’t for them to remember that they are kids.
It is for the adults in their lives to remember that.
And, to remember that in each of these programs what we say to them, what we write about them and what we do in support of them can either contribute positively or negatively to their future life as an adult.