It feels, to me at least, that the Team Leaders are entering a new stage of training now. Most of the past two weeks have been used to get us oriented to the rules and regulations as well as different staff member roles. Now it seems that we’re starting to focus on actual skills that we will be using throughout the year.
Monday was an, lets say, interesting day. First on the agenda (after PT of course) was “Introduction to Paperwork.” Needless to say we all weren’t too excited for that. We spent the first 4 hours of the day learning about ALL the different paperwork we will need to fill out over the course of the year. Now I understand this is a federal agency and all but I was never expecting the amount of paperwork that we were shown on Monday. I have a list of over 50 different forms that we have. Some we have to complete every day, some weekly, and others quarterly. Now learning about paperwork is not the most interesting of ways to spend 4 hours on a Monday morning; however, when you have the personality presenting the information that we had it just isn’t too bad. All I can say is the facilitator kept us all on our toes. Whether it be will odd stories of UFOs, Teddy Kennedy, or panning for Gold, I can say we were always wondering what was coming next.
In the afternoon we got to meet up with our Units. We talked about what our expectations were for our Unit Leader and what her expectations were for us. We also talked about some ground rules and started brainstorming for our Unit Charter. Our UL (Unit Leader) then let us know that the Blue Unit TLs (Team Leaders) from last year left us all gifts. I was given a crock pot, 5 hour energy drinks, and the holy grail of all gifts…. a “BlueUnit” belt buckle. Now I just need to get a belt that it will fit on. We then were issued our Tom-Toms for the vans, cell phones, and laptops. We finished the day out with “Community Mapping.” This entails going around the community you’re in and assessing the assets and challenges of the area. A lot of people found new amenities that we didn’t know existed. We also realized that the McClellan Air Force Base is in a very diverse neighborhood. I saw signs in Russian, Mexican, and Arabic. On another note I finally got my memory card for my camera!!!!!!!
Tuesday we learned all we wanted to ever know about ISPs. What are ISPs you might ask. Well, ISPs are Independent Service Projects. All CMs (Corps Members) are required to complete 80 ISP hours. TLs don’t have to officially complete any ISPs because we are doing so much other work, but we are encouraged to participate in ISPs with our CMs. If we wanted to qualify for the Congressional Volunteer Service Award TLs have to complete 50 ISP hours. What makes an ISP different from a regular project is that they are initiated by a CM and must be completed during non working hours. One of the principles of the Corps is to instill the value of life long service and one way they try to accomplish this is by getting CMs into the habit of searching for volunteer opportunities on their own. It also gives us a chance to get to know the communities we’re working in better as well as pursuing something that interests us.
The above picture is from a little skit that some of the TMs did to illustrate the correct procedure for setting up ISPs.
We also got to pick our specialty roles for our trip out to Camp Mendocino. Since I just got my nice new camera and I wanted an excuse to play with it I’m going to be the Journalist for the trip. I’m responsible for putting together a brochure about my unit introducing us to the sponsor at Camp Mendocino as well as making a slide show / video of our time there. There are 5 other people on the team with me.
In the afternoon we met with our Specialty Teams that we’ll have for the entire year. If you don’t remember I’m on the Res Life Team. We spent our time brainstorming ideas for activities that we could do to keep the Corps entertained when they arrived. I don’ t want to spoil the surprise for those who are reading this and are coming out here so I can’t really go into much more detail. However, if you are an incoming Corps Member reading this and there is something in particular you would like to see, feel free to comment below and I’ll see what we can do.
The last meeting we had was a panel presentation by two project sponsors. We had two representatives from Sacramento Food Bank & Family Services. One of which was a former CM about 10 years back. They offer all sorts of services that are intended to: improve literacy, strengthen families, educate youth, clothe the poor, feed the hungry, engage senior with activities, foster technological skills, mentor new parents, and provide hope and build self esteem. With other panelist we had was a lady from the City of Sacramento’s Volunteer Program. She talked about working with a federal agency. We had a lengthy Q&A session that touched on managing volunteers, how the new political/economic climate has impacted their agencies, and running a non-profit.
This morning we spend 4 hours having a meeting with NCCC’s lawyer. Now this is another meeting that doesn’t sound very interesting however Tom was full of very hilarious stories as examples of why certain policies were in place. We also had LOTS of time to ask TONS of questions to make sure and clarify any and all questions we might have on policy. I think I’m going to write an article about some of the issues he brought up, but now’s not the time. They’re a little political and I don’t want to get into that right now.
In the afternoon we broke up into two groups and half of us learned about “Projects Fund Mgmt” and the other half of us practiced facilitating Hands of Peace, the communication and conflict resolution training. We went through the training last week and the TLs will be giving the training to the CMs when they arrive. It was extremely helpful having the dry run with the staff because we were able to ask lots of questions about facilitating in the process.
Lesson of the Day: One way to measure a person’s growth is by the number of uncomfortable conversations they’ve had because almost every uncomfortable situation or conversation is a chance to learn something and expand our personal boundaries.
Until next time,
Peace, Love, and Blue Unit!