Friday, May 29, 2009

Send Us to KAA Camp and Push Up Challenge

KAA (A.K.A. Kid Across America) is a Christian sports camp designed for urban youth located on the border of Missouri and Arkansas. I can say a lot of great things about this camp:

1) They have a blob.
(If you've been there you know. If you haven't it's tough to describe)

2) Some of our kids get to go to new states like, Iowa and Missouri.


4) The perfect mix of being at camp and being in an environment that is meant for kids from the city.

5) They serve the adult leaders too.

The list could go on and on, but there is really one thing that makes this camp great: It is a place where many of our kids meet Jesus for the first time. Think of it, camp lasts one week, but the relationship they make there lasts eternally.

We'd love it if you would help kids go to this camp. We are bringing about 15 kids and 4 adult leaders. It costs $180 per person to go on this trip. In exchange for your generosity, me and some of the DinoMights boys will be doing one pushup for every dollar raised over the weekend. I'll post a video of the event next week. So far we have $50, which means we have to do 50 Push-Ups. I can do that by myself. There must be someone out there, who in addition to wanting to support great kids going to camp, is interested to see me and some Dinos do push-ups.

Use the widget to give through PayPal's secure site. Donations go to DinoMights, which is a 501 (c) 3 Non-Profit. All gifts are 100% tax-deductible. Just to be clear, there is no middle man, your gift will go straight to DinoMights. By the way, if you think this is a really great cause then you can post the widget on your own blog page or myspace, or other site of your own to let your friends and contacts know about the cause.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Send Us to Hockey in the Hood Camp


That's about all there is to it. Fun.

When School is out kids have Fun.

The question is how.

Hockey in the Hood Camp takes place the first week after school gets out. We like to have a summer kick off event like this to provide positive fun right away on summer break. Also, it is a great way for the Learn 2 Skate kids who are just joining DinoMights to begin their DinoMights career. After all they are fresh off of the Fun experience they had learning to skate, now is the perfect time to have fun beginning to play hockey, and being in a safe positive place with safe positive friends and adults.

The Camp is our own summer hockey clinic provided to all the DinoMights participants 8th grade and below. We spend most of our time teaching and learning hockey skills. We do our best to make it every bit as enjoyable and valuable as a high end summer clinic at a cost of about $30 per kid. (A high end clinic in Minnesota may cost around $400).

Most of all, Hockey in the Hood Camp is Fun. We always do some fun relay races. Last year we did a tractor pull. Kids were paired up and they had to pull their friend along with their sticks. We also had a parachute for the mites. The kids could skate under the chute, throw their gloves on top, it was a lot of fun.

This year we are going to have a special visitor to our camp. Nordy, the mascot of the Minnesota Wild is going to come and have a Fun time with the DinoMights.

The point is that it is good fun, safe fun, positive fun, fun in a caring community of friends and adults. Kids will find fun one way or another. For the kids that come to Hockey in the Hood Camp we know that they are getting their summer off to a positive, safe, Fun start.

Thanks for reading, and please consider sending a kid to Hockey in the Hood Camp this summer by making a tax-deductible gift on the giving widget on the right side of the screen. If you really want to have Fun with this mini-FUNd drive, then you can post the fundraiser widget on your own page too!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Send Us to Camp!

Brian is surprised by his burnt marshmallow © Richard Westley Wong

Even though it is not hockey season, our program doesn't sleep. Or rather, we sleep in a lot of different places . . . like CAMP! And we need your help to get there.

We are discreet about fund drives at DinoMights. There are only two times a year we make major appeals to the public for funds: at our Annual Fundraiser in the fall, and just prior to summer in support of Summer programming.

So the blog will be the epicenter of a mini-fund drive to help SEND DINOMIGHTS TO CAMP!!!

Over the next week I will be highlighting DinoMights summer opportunities. We'll be talking about what the kids will be doing, what it means to them, and what are the costs involved with those activities.

We are hoping to raise $15,000 towards the costs of summer programming (excluding salaries and administrative costs). It would be great if us blog readers could help raise a portion of that amount.

All week there will be a widget displayed on the right side of the blog screen. You can click on the widget and make a tax-deductible donation directly to DinoMights, which is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization. Also, if you really want to get involved, because you really think DinoMights is making a difference in the lives of urban youth, you can share the widget with your friends and networks.

We are going to make it worth your while to give this week too. DinoMights are going to give you incentives everyday. So not only will your dollars be sending the kids to camp, but they will be earning special surprises too!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


A group of urban kids search the ground of the forest for twigs, dry branches, and logs. They bring them to the fire pit. The stage is set for a campfire at Kids Across America Camp or Silver Birch Ranch. All they need now is a spark to bring the fire to life. The fire brings joy and beauty to the campers as they play games, tell stories, and roast marshmallows. Now some of those kids have everything going for them, and some have lots of issues to overcome, but they are all like that pile of wood waiting for a spark.

I got a call from Rhobelle this spring. He’s a sophomore at Hamline University, and he wanted to know if he could interview me for his Non-Profit Management Class. So he came over and we had a wonderful discussion about the nuts and bolts of directing an organization like DinoMights. Later in the Spring, Rhobelle called again to ask if he could use some of the knowledge he’d acquired in his class to write a grant for DinoMights.
I said yes, and got on the phone with a contact at one of the foundations that has supported DinoMights. I told this contact that an alumni of the program wanted to submit a grant on DinoMights behalf. He hought that was awesome. He couldn’t stop talking about how DinoMights gives kids such amazing chances to learn and do things that help them grow up into self-assured competent adults. It’s kind of like kids get exposed to things that can be a spark to light up their future.

After we were done with Rhobelle’s interview we chatted a bit about his life and about DinoMights in general. He said that he would love to go to camp again if he could. He has said before that Summer Camp was his greatest memory of being in DinoMights.
We thought we were just bringing Rhobelle to camp for a time to do crafts, sports, be outdoors and learn about God. We thought that all those Summer Academic Power Camps he went to were just a good chance to learn about science, history, and spend some time reading. We didn’t even realize that all those things were sparks that would begin a fire in a young man to share his joy and beauty with the world.

The DinoMights summer of 2009 is upon us. The biggest group of kids in our history just completed Greg Carroll Learn 2 Skate. Some of those young first graders will join us this summer for “Hockey in the Hood Camp” and our “Academic Power Camp.” It’s our hope that one day they will be fine young adults like Rhobelle, discovering interests and gifts that they can share with their communities and families. So we will think of our work this summer not just as a good way to pass the time between school years, but rather as fire building so that our DinoMights can one day go and be light to the world! (Mattthew 5:14-16).

Friday, May 22, 2009

Sparks: Part 1

Pictured above is a Cheddar Burger with Balsamic Onions. At first glance you might think that it is just a plain old cheese burger. You also might think, "What is that doing on the DinoMights blog?" Well there are several reasons.

First, it is because I am on vacation for Memorial Weekend. When I go on vacation this is what I like to do: Grill. And, when I am on vacation and have the time I don't grill up just any old plain thing. I like to get creative and see what amazing and unique flavors can be brought out of the food cooked on the grill, which brings me to my second point.

The kids of DinoMights are not unlike that burger. People may look at them and quickly make a value judgement like, "Oh it's just another cheesburger." However, if you pay closer attention, if you take the time to really taste, and get to know our kids you'll see: Those are grilled onions on top of that burger with balsamic vinegrette added for just the right flavor. Also, that is chipotle ketchup that gives this sandwich a smokey kick. It's not just a plain old burger.

However, it may have started out in the usual way. It was essential ground beef, raw onions, bread, etc. It needed to be cooked, and in order for the food to be cooked it required a spark to light up the grill.

Cutting edge research by Dr. Peter Benson of Search Institute indicates that it takes a spark for kids to thrive and flourish. Our DinoMights kids are not just statistics in a poor neighborhood. Moreover, we need not measure their success by what they "don't do" (they don't use drugs, they don't join gangs, etc.) Rather, they are beautiful unique people that have something to offer the world. That beauty comes out when something or a group of things act as a catalyst to launch a young person's pursuit of purpose.

Over the next few weeks on the blog I want to be talking about Sparks at DinoMights. What kinds of DinoMights activities are sparking kids to their purpose, and what can we do to keep providing those sparks.

In the meantime, I've got to go eat that tasty burger!

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Learn 2 Skate Day 12: Tragedy and Legacy

Today was the last session of Learn 2 Skate for 2009. This was the most kids and most ambitious spring DinoMights has ever had. It is my opinion that not only have we served a beautiful group of urban kids, but we have successfully honored the legacies of both Greg Carroll and Kelly Phillips.

The official name of Learn 2 Skate is, Greg Carroll Learn 2 Skate. Greg was our mites coach for six seasons. Long enough to see his first kids finish playing PeeWees and become high school hockey players. He was gentle, kind, creative, and most of all had the heart of a servant. he believed that every kid should have a great first experience in DinoMights. Each spring, Greg took time out of his busy schedule as an architect to volunteer at Learn 2 Skate. It was Greg that would sit down to breakfast at Key's Cafe, with John Foley and myself to talk about which Learn 2 Skate kids would make great DinoMights. He was always right! It was also Greg that had the idea of Mini-Mites as an improved way for Kindergarten through 2nd graders to begin playing hockey.

Greg passed away suddenly from a heart attack in September of 2007 at the age of 47. Many DinoMights children mourned at Greg's funeral. Greg was buried in his DinoMights jersey. Shortly thereafter the DinoMights Board declared that Learn 2 Skate would be officially named Greg Carroll Learn 2 Skate to honor his legacy.

This year we were able to double the size of Greg Carroll Learn 2 Skate adding Andersen Elementary as a new partner. The biggest obstacle to achieving this expansion would be people. We needed to be sure there would be enough people to help tie skates, give out smiles, and help up fallen kids. When I met with Dan Phillips, of the Kelly Phillips Foundation, and Eric Johnson, head varsity coach of the Minnetonka Girls Hockey Team, we found the right people.

Kelly Phillips had been one of those unique young people who could be both a positive leader and a respected friend. She was a National Honor Student at Minnetonka High School, a member of the hockey team, and an active member of her youth group at Mount Olivet Lutheran Church. She cared about people, especially the "underdogs," and she held service as a high value.

Tragically, she died from injuries sustained in a car crash during September of her senior year of high school . . . Only one day apart from the death of Greg Carroll.

Kelly's friends and family set up the Kelly Phillips Foundation to honor her legacy. They were looking for organizations that fit Kelly's life and character. They felt that DinoMights would be a good fit.

And so, the Kelly Phillips Foundation has been serving at Greg Carroll Learn 2 Skate this year. We could not have done this project this year without our friends at the Kelly Phillips Foundation. And we could not have imagined a more profound way to heal from tragedy together as we honor the legacy of two very generous people.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

I want to know Wednesday

1) I want to know how many new kids will join DinoMights over the next few weeks.

Now that Learn 2 Skate is wrapping up, we shift gears. It is time to invite the Learn 2 Skate kids to become full year round participants of DinoMights.

We actually visit the homes of the students and meet their parents. We tell them everything about DinoMights. Sometimes my wife Kari comes along and speaks Spanish with the parents. If the students are interested and the parents give permission, we outfit the students with hockey equipment right there in the front yard. I'm sure it is quite a site.

2) I want to know what it looks like to people when they see kids trying on hockey equipment in the front yard.

It is kind of bizarre, but it is also very urban. On the one hand, this isn't the way I remember trying on my first set of hockey equipment. On the other hand, in the city kids don't just come to DinoMights seeking out hockey. Families don't usually know that there is an opportunity to play hockey. If we just waited for kids to come to us, we probably wouldn't have very many new kids. This year we have twice as many kids to visit, so hopefully it will be our biggest incoming class ever!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Learn 2 Skate Day 11: A successful new partnership

Today was the last day of Greg Carroll Learn 2 Skate for Andersen Elementary School. It was definitely the right thing to expand this program to serve a second school. Next year Andersen is doubling in size. That means that we will be serving another 80 first graders for a grand total of 240 in 2010! Enjoy the slideshow depicting some of the scenes from this year's Learn 2 Skate.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Today I am super excited about DinoMights alumni!

We were planning to take a bus to Kids Across America, but it fell through. So as it turns out we will be taking the DinoMights vans to Camp. Of course, a coach bus fully equipped with a bathroom is the nicest way to travel to Southern Missouri. However, the DinoMights vans are not that bad. The catch is that we need to take extra adults to drive the vans.

So on short notice we put the word out that we needed another chaperone. Today we got word from Lenny that he can be our final chaperone for camp.

This is so exciting, because Lenny is a DinoMights coach that grew up in DinoMights! Now he is going to be taking kids to camp.

Lenny has been working in the automotive industry for the last few years, but God has been doing some pretty amazing things in his life lately. Now he's thinking that he might be interested in Youth work. So what a great opportunity for Lenny to go to camp and get a deeper taste of what youth work is all about.

I just can't get over the whole "giving back" idea. DinoMights has made a difference in Lenny's life, and now he's doing that for other kids.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Girls Retreat

Girls have hot chocolate and play games at the Engelhart Cabin in Northern Wisconsin

I was looking at Leah Engelhart's pictures of the Girls Retreat, which took place last weekend, and I couldn't help but think about how valuable that kind of experience is for our kids. Leah, DinoMights Program Assistant, along with Amy, Girls Team Coach, took a group of the middle school aged girls to Northern Wisconsin. The girls stayed at the cabin of Leah's parents, they drank hot chocolate, played games, went for a hike, and reflected on how God has made each one of them special.

Sometime ago there was great pressure on organizations like ours to be solely focused on academics. You see the same pressures on public schools right now and over the past decade. Schools are cutting music, art, drama, sports, etc. Some schools feel so much pressure to succeed academically that they have begun to cut out recess.

It seems to make sense. The thought process goes something like this, "We don't have time for that other stuff. If kids can't read what's the point of art or sports."

Organizations like ours, that seemed to intuitively think that other "non-academic" activities were actually good for kids, protested, "But, then they won't get to go to the cabin." It really feels like being in a box. If you don't solely focus on academics, then kids will not learn to read. But if you do, then kids won't have any fun.

The truth is really something more like this, "If kids have art and sports and other good stuff, then they will most likely be better readers."

The Search Institute is an organization dedicated to researching what kids need to succeed. They have developed a list of 40 assets that kids need to succeed at different ages. Here's a few things on their list for middle school aged girls like the ones on the retreat:

Other Adult Relationships

Middle School kids benefit when they have at least three positive adults other than their parents who show support in their lives. Here Joeny and Sandy pose with their coach, Amy.

Positive Peer Influence

Youth benefit when a young person's best friends model responsible behavior. Here Lucy, Nancy and Lacy have a fun time being silly during time in the woods.

Creative Activities

Ty'netra plays Apples to Apples with her teammates. Young people benefit when he/she spends three or more hours per week in lessons or practice in music, theater, or other arts.

Cultural Competence

Young persons benefit when they have knowledge of and comfort with people of different cultural/racial/ethnic backgrounds. Girls on this weekend's trip and the Girls team are from all different backgrounds including African American, Latino, and Asian.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Learn 2 Skate Day 10: Student of the Month

Monica, a third grader, holds up her Student of the Month Certificate

If youth development organizations like DinoMights want to make a real difference in the lives of community kids have to realize a few things:

1) They are only with you for a small percentage of the week.
2) They are at School and Home most of the time.
3) Therefore, the real impact of a youth development organization will be greater if the organization partners with families and schools.

We had a special treat today at Greg Carroll Learn 2 Skate. It was Student of the Month Day at Green Central. We knew that Monica, a third grader in DinoMights, would be one of the recipients of the Student of the Month Award. Yesterday when we asked her mom if she could help the first graders at Learn 2 Skate, her mom said that she could come to help as long as she would be back at school in time for the award ceremony.

So when we dropped Monica off at school after she was done helping out, we decided to go to the Student of the Month Award Ceremony too. As it turned out about 6-8 of the first graders that just finished learning to skate with us over at Augsburg Ice Arena were also receiving the prestigious honor.

Student of the Month Monica helps carry skate bags at Greg Carroll Learn 2 Skate

To top it off, on the way out of the school we ran in to one of the classrooms walking through the hall. Their jaws dropped as if to say, "Hey what are you doing at school? I usually only see you at skating!" So it was a really fun day. It was our treat not only to serve the kids of our community at Learn 2 Skate, but also to be a part of the community celebrating the academic success of DinoMights and Learn 2 Skaters alike.

First Graders running into the DinoMights staff after the Student of the Month Award Ceremony

Part of the powerful thing about DinoMights is that we are a partner to the local schools. This whole Learn 2 Skate project is a collaboration with local schools. It works because we have some common interest, and we combine our resources to produce something that neither of us could produce alone.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

I want to know Wednesday

1) I want to know what this year's Web Class web pages are going to look like.

The rumor is that we have a couple of very talented young web developers in this year's class. Each spring we hold special academic enrichment classes in the area of technology. We've been teaching kids how to build their own web page almost since the beginning of DinoMights. (Click here to visit the Old DinoMights website and view the orignial student web pages!) After all, DinoMights began as a collaboration with the Park Avenue Computer Center. The kids actually write all the code for their own web page. These are fourth and fifth graders doing this project!

You want to know what is even more amazing? The teacher of the class is a 21 year old college student that learned how to do this stuff as a DinoMight growing up in the same way that these fourth graders are learning it today! Micah is truly amazaing. Not only has he taught the kids to build their own pages, but he actually designed and build the entire DinoMights website at age 19! You should definitely check out his work and the work of former Web Class participants. Stay tuned to view this year's class accomplishments coming soon!

2) I still want to know who is going to win the Stanley Cup!

The Blackhawks knocked off the Vancouver Canucks. So the dream is for Willie Mitchell for now. On the other hand, all three other series are going to game 7. This round has absolutely been so exciting, even though I don't have cable and I can't actually watch any of the games. Three of the Original Six teams are still in contention, several remaining teams have not won the Cup in a generation, and we have Sid vs. Ovie (Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Alexander Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals.)

3) I want know why the Capitals vs. Penguins game is not on network television tonight.

This game could define the next ten years of the NHL and I'm not going to be able to watch it. It has got to be at least as interesting as American Idol or whatever cop/doctor drama is on the other stations. No offense if you like those things, but just imagine if American Idol was only available on selected cable networks.

I'm just going to have to face it: until today's web class fourth graders are old enough to design a free web based solution for watching the games, I'll just be catching the highlights afterwards.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Learn 2 Skate Day 9: Just Keep Swimming

Every day at Greg Carroll Learn 2 Skate my group (Scott's Stingrays) does the same thing: We warm-up, learn skills, and play a game. The game we've been playing this year is "Finding Nemo." Here's how we play: Scott tells the story of finding Nemo and the kids have to use their skating skills to act out the story.

Particularly important for today's group is that the main character, Marlin, is afraid of the ocean. However, he wants to find his son Nemo so much, that he is willing to risk traveling across the ocean to find him.

A lot of the kids in my group are still a bit scared of skating. A lot of them may not skate again after Learn 2 Skate is over, but all of them will have something that is scary. We're not just teaching skating, we're actually teaching how to overcome fears.

In one scene of the movie Finding Nemo, Marlin is clinging to a rock completely paralyzed with fear unable to continue. He has this exchange with his ever positive companion Dori:

Dori: You know what you got to do when life gets you down?
Marlin: I don't want to know what you got to do?
Dori: Just Keep Swimming, Just keep Swimming, Just Keep Swimming!

So here's one boy applying the lessons learned at Greg Carroll Learn 2 Skate:

This clip was not even captured during game time. The boy was just trying to get up the courage to get away from the boards, and he remembered that Dori said, "Just Keep Swimming" during our game last week. Many of the kids in Learn 2 Skate start out like Marlin clinging to a rock. Our kids start out clinging to the boards, afraid of what might happen if they venture out into the ice without anything to hold onto. It really is a scary concept: there is nothing to hang onto. However, the assumption is that you will fall and be unable to get up. Actually, as the first graders of Andersen are learning today, if we just keep swimming, or skating, or working, or talking, or trying we'll probably make it eventually, and if we fall we will probably just get up and "just keep skating, just keep skating, just keep skating . . ."

Monday, May 11, 2009

Dino Moms

DinoMight parents enjoy the "Motown Museum" on the Detroit Tournament Trip

"Hockey Moms" have a kind of reputation in Minnesota. There is even a contest sponsored by Red Baron Pizza to declare, Minnesota's Hockey Mom of the Year. I think that there are definitely some DinoMights moms that would qualify for that contest.

Not only are our moms dedicated to driving to games and practices. Not only are they adept at dressing warm for the cold arenas. But almost none of them grew up in hockey households. Almost all of them had to get over, at least a little thought or feeling of, "is my kid crazy to want to play this sport?" or "is this sport dangerous?" or "will my son or daughter be the only non-white kid on the team."

This year on the Detroit trip several moms made the trip. It was every bit as much of a thrill for them as it was for the kids. Their kids are their lives, and it is very special to know that DinoMights is enriching the lives of the kids' parents as well.

I'll never forget what one mother said to me last spring, "I want all of you (DinoMights staff, volunteers, etc.) to be there at graduation, because you have all been a part of helping me raise my son." Actually, the Dino Moms are all helping to raise one big Dino Family that includes many sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, aunts and uncles.

Dino Mom, Lawanda, takes pictures of her daughter skating in Joe Louis Arena

Friday, May 8, 2009

Dino NHL Impersonations

There's been a lot of talk about the NHL on the Dino blog lately. There has also been a lot of talk about Ovechkin and Crosby. Well, it occurs to me that reading this blog does not make a person a fan of the NHL. You may not care who is going to win the Cup, and you may not know who Crosby and Ovechkin even are! However, if you are reading this blog, you are probably interested in the kids of DinoMights. So in light of recent NHL conversations, I thought it would be appropriate do show some of the skills of our own kids, just so you know I'm not biased when I talk about how great they are. (Well, I am biased, but see for yourself anyway!) If you want to see more of the DinoMights playing hockey and doing various other things visit the DinoMights Webpage and click the Video Tab.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Learn 2 Skate Day 8: Andy Davis

Andy "helps out" at Greg Carroll Learn 2 Skate

Once we had a coach that came to DinoMights to complete some hours for a college class. He loved it so much that he ended up coaching the PeeWees for nine years!

This year we have a college student, Andy Davis, that contacted DinoMights for some hours to complete his major at Hamline University. We talked about Andy "helping out" as a tutor and with Learn 2 Skate. "Helping Out" sounds like a small amount of work, but Andy has really done a lot.

He helped Eric organize all the equipment for Learn 2 Skate: he inventoried, he fixed helmet straps, and put those strips of tape for the kids names on all the skates. It is hard work, and he's done a great job.

Not only that, but he is also teaching a group of kids to skate each session. His group is called Andy's Amur Leopards.

He is becoming one of us and I wouldn't be surprised if he is still "helping out" in 2018!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

I Want to know Wednesday

On Wednesdays at the DinoMights blog, I've been asking questions about things that I want to know. I want to know your opinions too, so feel free to chime in!

Last week I wanted to know who you were rooting for in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Here are the results from those who participated:

Detroit Red Wings: 22%
Vancouver Canucks: 44%
Chicago Blackhawks: 0%
Anaheim Mighty Ducks: 0%
Boston Bruins: 11%
Washington Capitals: 44%
Pittsburgh Penguins: 0%
Carolina Hurricanes: 22%

It looks like people picked up on what I was writing. 44% of the vote went to Willie Mitchell and the Canucks and 0% to the Ducks. However, there was a late surge for the Washington Capitals most likely due to amazing display of skill by Alex Ovechkin. Speaking of Ovechkin that leads to my first question:

1) I want to know to which hockey camp to send the DinoMights so that they will be able to do this:

Seriously, some of our kids are totally bonkers about hockey. One of the PeeWee Girls has over 20 pictures and posters on the Minnesota Wild on her bedroom walls. Another boy watches youtube hockey highlights all the time (I wish he did his homework as much as he watched highlights!) Another kid did a move like this Ovechkin move during a game. It was so unbelievable that we had to show it in slow motion in the highlight film. So we want to send some of these hockey bonkers kids to some camps. If you know of good local camps or if you know about scholarship information let me know.

2) I want to know how to appreciate that once upon a time Alex Ovechkin couldn't skate yet.

He was a kid just like the first graders at Green and Andersen. He was wobbling and struggling to keep his ankles straight. Just like these kids. That really makes my job a privilege. Who knows, but one of these inner city Minneapolis kids might be a big star someday. And who knows, but maybe that kid will be in the semi-finals of the Stanley Cup Championships scoring a hat trick in game 2, and look into the camera and say, "I owe it all to my Learn 2 Skate coach."

3) I want to know how to appreciate that most or maybe none of these kids will actually make it to the NHL, but it is absolutely worth every minute of it anyway.

The reality is that it is really hard to even make the NHL, much less be the biggest star of the NHL. But, it doesn't matter. Our job is to love kids and give them a chance to do something special. Most of them will go pro . . . in something else besides sports.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Learn 2 Skate Day 7: Mr. Gibbs

The Winner of Yesterday's contest was Harvey, who said,
"Search and Rescue training starts a little earlier every year..."
Harvey, send me an email to claim your prize:

By the way, Today is the last day to vote in the poll for the NHL Team you are supporting in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Mr. Gibbs

Mr. Gibbs looks on as a first grader smiles

Today was the fourth session of Greg Carroll Learn 2 Skate with our new partner school Andersen Elementary. We had kicked around the idea of doing Learn 2 Skate with two schools for a while about a year and a half ago. We were applying for a very large grant. It would have been the largest grant DinoMights had ever received. It was decided that if we had been able to get that grant we would have enough money to support two Learn 2 Skate partnerships. We didn't get the grant, so it didn't seem like we would be able to do it.

Every year my old friends from high school get together to play a game of football on the day after Thanksgiving. We have carried on the tradition since 1995! Actually there are only two of us that have made it to every game since High School: Ryan Gibbs and Me.

Ryan has been teaching in the Minneapolis School district for a few years. It came up during one of our post-Thanksgiving games that he was now working in the administration at Andersen. We decided that we had to get together and see if there were any ways that DinoMights could work together with Andersen. At the time I thought we would get that big grant, which is what prompted me to suggest Learn 2 Skate as a possibility with Andersen. We didn't get the grant, but we decided to go ahead and explore the possibility anyway.

Ryan and one of the First Grade teacher came out to observe a Learn 2 Skate session with Green Central one year ago, and they thought is was just great.
Ryan really got behind this project in a major way. It would be really easy for a new partner to have a lot of hesitation, but Ryan saw that this would be good for his school and his kids and did a lot of work to make it happen. I got to meet with all the first grade teachers and they agreed this would be a good thing to do with their kids. And so our new partnership was born.

I have to say that I never dreamed as a seventh grader, when I met Ryan at Sandburg Middle School, that one day we'd be collaborating to serve inner city Minneapolis kids together. What a joy it is to be serving together with a friend. Even more it is very special to get to see an old friend in his element all grown up. To the kids he is "Mr. Gibbs." To me he has been Gibbs, Gibberz, or whatever other nicknames we've had. But, I'm adding Mr. Gibbs to my list of names for this friend and partner in service to the city.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Camp is Coming Caption Contest!

Today was a day off from school for the Minneapolis school district. And you know what that means . . . Kids are home and they can fill out their camp forms!

Really there are a lot of different forms that we have to get filled out for camp. For example,

Parent Permission
Emergency Contacts
Insurance Information
Photocopy of Insurance Card
Health Waiver
Consent to Treat
Lice Policy Agreement
DNA Sample
etc. etc. etc.

O.K. so I'm exaggerating a bit. However, It's not just something that you decide on the spur of the moment. Would you believe that I actually have to reserve spaces for one of the camps we go to in September? So we have been planning to have an awesome summer of 2009 ever since summer 2008 ended.

So I thought it would be fun to start this week out with a funny caption contest from the 2008 Camp Photo Gallery.

If you've been following the blog for a few weeks you already know the rules. Give this photo a funny caption. What are the people thinking? If this was a Far Side what would it say below the picture? For example you might say, "Spiderman, Spiderman, does anything a spider can . . ." The contest will be open until Tuesday afternoon. The winner will be chosen by an esteemed panel of judges, and will be awarded either a State of Hockey Minnesota Wild coffee mug or DinoMights winter hat.

Have fun with the contest and while you are at it vote in the poll for the NHL team you are supporting in the playoffs!

Friday, May 1, 2009

I received a very important reminder today.

Let me begin this story by telling you that DinoMights received a very generous grant from the McKnight Foundation this week. McKnight is one of the premier philanthropic organizations in the Twin Cities. They have a very thorough process for choosing the organizations they support including a written grant, site visit, and yearly reviews. This foundation truly wants to make sure that the organizations they fund are doing the work they claim to be doing and doing it well. They are also advocates for non-profits and understand that children become mature people not by simply doing homework. They also learn through positive play and positive interaction with caring adults. (If you want to learn more about other organizations that support DinoMights visit the DinoMights partners page).

So getting this big grant means a lot to DinoMights. Not only is it financial support that helps us with the costs of things like hockey, tutoring, Power Camp, etc., but it is also a major stamp of approval that says we really are doing good work at DinoMights.

I have to say that I personally feel pretty good about it.

Today, I went to the mailbox and was reminded to stay humble about fundraising. Mixed in with some other items was a DinoMights Fundraiser Invitation from last fall. The event took place in November, 2008. The envelope was addressed to DinoMights, and it didn't have a stamp. I figured it must have been a blank that the post office randomly found and was returning to our address. Actually, it's something I could have thrown away without even looking inside, but I did open it.

Inside I found that this invite had been personally delivered by a Rafael, a sixth grader, to his teacher. The teacher sent it back this week with a small gift to DinoMights enclosed.

The big grant check is awesome, but a small gift from a teacher to her student's extra curricular life is just as special to us. That is a teacher saying, "I support you as a partner in my student's education." In effect she too is saying that she understands the development of young people is not just about doing more homework, but it is also about making friends, playing sports, going on trips, and having long term relationships. And she can tell that it is making a difference for Rafael. This gift is 0.1% the size of the McKnight Grant, but it makes just as strong of a statement!