Get involved

How Can I Become Involved?

Virginia Odyssey is an all-volunteer organization from our judges to our Association Director and everyone in between! With 30+ years of tournaments and having thousands of kids come through our program, we know the importance that volunteers have from coaching to making our tournaments run like a well-oiled machine. Through the generosity of time and talent, our volunteers are able to contribute their skills, knowledge and interests to provide an amazing experience for kids. Just like an Odyssey of the Mind team, we want our volunteers to capitalize on their strengths when donating their time and energy. Thus, we have a variety of roles to ensure your experience is fun and rewarding!

 

Our goal is for all participants, whether student or adult, to learn and to have fun while doing so, and we do our best to provide plenty of support to all participants at every level!

Tournament Volunteers:

Time commitment: 2-3 hours on ONE SATURDAY, the day of a tournament

Responsibilities: register teams, help with souvenir sales, serve as doorkeepers, etc.

Officials (Judges):

Time commitment: TWO SATURDAYS; one day of training in January or February, (5-6 hours) and one day of judging teams (6-9 hours) at regional in February or March. You may also judge at our state competition, but you MUST have already judged at one of the regional tournaments.

 

Responsibilities:  judge creativity and learn the rules and restrictions for the problem (or for spontaneous problem solving). Give teams scores and feedback the day of the competition.

Coaches:

Time commitment: 2-3 hours per week (plus more closer to tournament date), beginning in October or November, plus a Saturday’s coaches’ training (optional but great for all coaches)

 

Responsibilities: Work with a team of 5-7 students to help them brainstorm to solve the long term problem; teach skills or find someone who can teach them to the team; help the team understand all the rules; coordinate a place to meet; help the team gather necessary supplies; provide snacks; in general, be a cheerleader, a go-fer, and a referee … all while NOT telling the team how to solve any part of the problem they are tackling! All work must be the team’s own, and none may be an adult’s. So a large part of coaching is learning to ask questions to make the team think, providing moral support, and making sure the team stays within the rules and works safely.

Tournament Day Volunteers

Odyssey of the Mind is a completely volunteer run organization. It takes approximately 100 judges and 100 volunteers, depending on tournament size, to run a smooth tournament and we count on each and every one to help make this a positive experience for the teams.

General Information about Volunteers

  • It is strongly suggested that volunteers not be coaches! It is suggested that parents or other Odyssey supporters have the opportunity.
  • Volunteers will not be scheduled to work during your team’s performance.
  • We ask that Volunteers work a few hours during the competition day.

All Odyssey of the Mind judges and volunteers must be 18 years or older and high school graduates.  Judges must attend a full‐day training seminar in addition to judging at the tournament.

For more information, please check out our Judges and Volunteers specific information.

Judging Creativity

To ensure teams are scored fairly, we require each team to provide a judge (and volunteer) for tournament day so we can provide necessary training prior to the big day. A judge will need to be available for this role all day so there is consistent scoring. Simply stated, the teams, and very likely your children, have worked too hard not to be judged fairly. If you are a past or present supporter of the Odyssey of the Mind program please consider helping judge this year’s event.

General Information about Judges:

  • No experience is needed to be a judge. We will teach you everything you need to know at a judges’ training workshop (usually a 6 hour session)
  • Your judge will not be assigned to judge the problem/division in which your team is competing.
  • A judge is scheduled to work his/her own problem/division for the entire day, and will not be able to watch your team compete.

All Odyssey of the Mind judges and volunteers must be 18 years or older and high school graduates.  Judges must attend a full‐day training seminar in addition to judging at the tournament. Judges associated with teams needs to be aware that he/she will be required to judge at State Finals if your team advances.

For more information, please check out our Judges and Volunteers specific information.

Becoming a Coach

Your role as a coach is to not be the expert in whichever problem the team chooses to solve. In fact it is often better not to be an expert because there is always a risk of outside assistance. Your role is to facilitate creative problem solving, teambuilding, and brainstorming; teach kids how to manage a project or learn basic skills such as building concepts, theatrical principles, artistic qualities and more. We encourage you to bring in outside experts (parents, teachers, etc) to help teach some of these skills or to take “field trips”.

As a coach, you will be off to a great start when you set the example of adult behavior, sportsmanship, and Odyssey of the Mind spirit. Make the process of Odyssey of the Mind your goal and not the competition placements. All teams are winners because they have solved the problem to the best of their ability.

 

For more information on coaching contact the Coaching Coordinator at info@vaodyssey.org

Parents are Important

Parents are the ones who are driving the carpools, forking out money for pizza, opening closets for major scavenging, waiting while the team cleans up after a meeting, postponing dinner because one more prop needs finished, and generally watching from the sidelines while the team “gets creative!”

Did you know?

  • You are the team’s secret weapon for success!
  • You are the “wind beneath the wings” of the team and the coach!
  • You are a vital part of Odyssey of the Mind!

Be Your Team’s Judge or Volunteer!

Your Odyssey of the Mind Regional Board also relies on parents for help. Virginia Odyssey of the Mind competition uses approximately 100 judges and 100 volunteers to ensure a smooth, exciting tournament for all.  Consequently each team is required to provide one judge AND one volunteer to register. Here are the opportunities for parents, friends, and relatives to help make the regional tournament possible. We feel certain you will enjoy helping, and few volunteer opportunities directly benefit so many children in an educational program!

Parent Responsibilities on Tournament Day

  • Be a volunteer – Each team must provide a volunteer to work on Tournament Day for approximately 2-3 hours on the day of competition.  Responsibilities:  register teams, souvenir sales, doorkeepers, etc.  Volunteers should check in at volunteer desk at registration early to get their assignments.  Come early to get your choice!
  • We also ask you to help the team get props in and out of the building, to move your car from loading and unloading areas as quickly as possible, and to bring a sense of humor to the tournament (because Murphy’s law is an Odyssey of the Mind condition!)
  • Bring a Cake –  Each team is required to bring a Cake for the Cake Bingo.  Cakes can be store bought or homemade.  We really encourage the cakes to be homemade so that they can compete in our Creative Cake Contest.  In fact, this is a great opportunity for Parents to get involved and express their creativity.  Awards are even given to teams with the most creative cakes! For more information on the cakes, click here.

We believe that this program offers something unique for your children. They will learn teamwork, creative problem solving, divergent thinking, persistence, practical skills, and many other abilities through Odyssey of the Mind. Please remember we are all volunteers working together to make this happen for the kids.

Giving to Virginia Odyssey

Odyssey of the Mind is an international educational program that provides creative problem-solving opportunities for students from kindergarten through college. Team members apply their creativity to solve problems that range from building mechanical devices to presenting their own interpretation of literary classics. They then bring their solutions to competition on the local, state, and World level. Thousands of teams from throughout the U.S. and from about 25 other countries participate in the program.

 

Virginia Odyssey of the Mind continues to look for Corporate Sponsors for our program. As a corporate sponsor, your corporation will be associated with a program that supports quality and integrity in education and at the same time contributes to the development of a society of creative problem solvers. If you are interested in becoming a Corporate Sponsor, or you want additional information on pricing structures, please contact us at info@vaodyssey.org.

  • Sponsor a meal at competition with the opportunity to publicize your company

  • Sponsor the program with a financial gift

  • Allow staff to volunteer at a Virginia Odyssey event
  • Provide drinks and/or snacks for the volunteers on tournament days

Virginia Odyssey of the Mind, Inc. is an affiliate of Creative Opportunities Unlimited, and is recognized as exempt from federal income tax under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.  Contact us at info@vaodyssey.org for further information.

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