Whether it happens after your Regional Tournament, the State Tournament or even Global Finals, every team eventually reaches the end of their DI season. The end of the season doesn’t mean the creative fun has to end. The off season is a good time to plan a few low-key meetings, work on some skills and maybe even start working on a solution to next year’s challenges.

I know of a couple of Team Managers who used Instant Challenge-like activities at their child’s birthday party. Avoid the “No points? – No cake!” level of competition. You probably have left over common IC materials so invent a couple of task-based activities to use them up and have a good time. Do some improv games and some of the team-building activities from the Roadmap. You might be amazed at how much more fun you have when you aren’t focused on getting a team together and ready for an eventual tournament. If you have adults at the party, have them do these activities too for an extra good time. Who knows, you might find a future team member among your party guests.

Maybe your team had trouble with making costumes, building a backdrop or finding a consistent technique to build their structures. By the time the team knows what they want to do, there isn’t always time to figure out how to do it well if at all. See if your child would like sewing lessons, have the team over for a day of backdrop building or a crush-a-thon. You can interfere! Try to keep it to a minimum by focusing on building their skill set and not showing off your own.

Even though the challenges don’t come out until August, teams can actually start working on a solution. The key is force-fitting whatever they come up with into a solution. One of the most successful Secondary teams (multiple years of 1st place Globals finishes with DaVinci Awards) in not-so-recent California DI history used to spend a lot of time during the summer inventing an elaborate backstory, costumes and cultural rituals that they would force-fit into a solution when the full challenges came out. They purchased a team number as early as possible so they had 7 or 8 months to work on the specific requirements of the challenge. This team was obviously VERY devoted to the program but their story illustrates what is possible.

Whether you go big or small, remember that creative problem-solving doesn’t stop just because DI is in the off season. After all, summer is when future challenges both Team and Instant are developed, written and polished. If those volunteers can keep going, so can you.