This post may be long, but it definitely sums up my experience during the 2009 Twin Cities Breast Cancer 3-day while working on the Sweep Crew.
So. You thought that all you ever needed to know you learned in kindergarten? Not so fast. I may have learned to "flush" or "look both ways when I cross the street" way back then, but I can easily say that all I ever needed to know, I learned while crewing the Breast Cancer 3-day.
Rain doesn't dampen any spirits: It rained. A lot. In fact, it poured. But the energy was amazing. However, it is important to wear a rain jacket or poncho. A hoody sweatshirt isn't a good alternative for a rain coat (as Amy and I found out). Both years doing this walk, I've been fooled by the 3-day forecast. Even my friend, Sven Sungaard--meteorologist for KARE-11, told me "rain not likely" on my facebook page. Even Sven is wrong sometimes. It's OK Sven...
Be Nice and Play Fair: Apparently they overbooked our group, so some people were told that they needed to be moved to a different crew. This caused lots of hurt feelings and rude phone calls.
Word to the wise: if you get moved to a different crew, and you call the crew captain of the group you were moved from and you are rude to them, swear at them and yell--odds are you won't ever get on that crew. Just sayin'....
If you crew with a friend, be sure to talk before you go: We were given maps the night before the event for day 1. Since we were going to be driving around Minneapolis and St Paul, and taking side streets and residential streets, we needed to know how to get from A to B to C and beyond. When Amy was handed the map she said to me, "Is this when I tell you that I can't read a map?"
Sometimes you just have to let go: I will admit I was a nervous wreck for the first 2 days of the crew for two reasons: getting lost and vomit. Random, I know.
We got lost. A lot. In fact, we are still not sure how in the world to get from downtown Minneapolis on Washington Ave. to Pit stop 4 in St Paul on Summit Ave (in our defense: the maps were not that great.). We worked with our crew captain after 3 tries and were moved to a new area. We dealt with it and moved on.
And the vomit? Thankfully that did not happen. whew. But....it might next year. Or the year after. I guess I'll just have to deal with it and pray to God that I don't get any on me. Or freak out while driving.
Just because you're not walking doesn't mean that you won't have any physical or emotional involvement: Driving a van is tough on your body. Sure, I had air conditioning. Sure, I had a cold Diet Coke when I needed it. Sure, I had some good snacks to munch on along the way. Of course we had an awesome CD Mix to listen too. But honestly, my back was killing me each and every day. My arms were sore from gripping the steering wheel, and I got a nice sun kissed glow on my left side from the driver side door.
I also got to meet walkers who were upset that they were riding in the van. Who felt like a failure because they had to ride to the next pit stop or back to camp. I met walkers who were survivors, who were walking in memory of someone, and who were doing what they could to raise money to cure this disease.
It's draining. But it's also very inspiring.
Sometimes you have to punt: On day 1, we were told that in our van was a box with all the necessary materials we would need for our van. Included in this was a flashing light to put on our van as a caution light for slow driving.
It didn't really work. We tried our best to make it work, but it didn't. Upon unplugging it from the cigarette lighter, Amy pulled all the wires out from the plug. Now it really didn't work! Here's proof:
So, we drove with our hazard lights. Same difference.
Sometimes the map is wrong. Dead wrong. We still have yet to discover how to make it to Pit Stop #4 from lunch on day 1. Shout out to the map makers--please don't cover up the street names with information boxes that say "PIT STOP #4". Also, please don't mark out a route on the map where no street exists.
Amy may have had issues reading the map, but it didn't help when the map was wrong.
Also, it doesn't help when you leave the map on the hood of the car at a pit stop and drive away. That isn't going to get you from point A to point B. Well, even with the map we couldn't get from point A to point B. But you get what I mean.
Find your inner freshman: Remember when you were a freshman in college and you would stay up late, and get up early for that 8:00 chem class?
OK. You caught me. I rarely made it to my 8:00 chem class.
On the 3-day, you need to find your "inner freshman". Not only for late nights and early mornings, but to learn how to meet people all over again. You listen. You share. You laugh. You cry. You crave pizza when they're serving chicken and rice at the dining tent. It's very much like freshman year.
Then again, our team was top heavy with UND people. Which only makes sense, because UND rocks.
There is no "i" in Team: Our team was great. While we may not have talked to every single person on the team, every day.....we still had great communication with one another. The best was when Wendy and Jenni--veteran sweep members--who called to check in on us on Day 3. We zoomed past them in the afternoon as they were hanging out at a trail entrance for the walkers to emerge (trails = no sweep access. So, we wait at the trail exit just to make sure we are available for a ride when someone needs it). We honked the horn. They waived. We were headed to clean out our van and turn it in.
For once, I knew exactly where I was and where I needed to be. Shocker. I know.
Three minutes later, our Nextel beeped. It was Jenni. "Girls, just checkin' in to make sure you aren't lost!" (because again....we got lost all weekend). We replied, "Ironically....no! We're good!"
Shout out to our team for a great weekend full of encouragement. Holla!
Find your inner creativity when it comes to your van theme: We had some awesome van themes. These girls, Alyssa and Kenya, did a Marti Gras theme (get it? Marti Gras....showing "the girls" for beads....) and look at how far they took it....
Doesn't their face paint ROCK?!? They did great a job with their van theme. They were newbies just like us.
Also, if you go with a baseball theme, it's best to wear a jersey for the home team. We wore Boston jersey's on Day 1 and got nothing but crap. Day 2 & 3 we wore the Twins. Lesson learned. Here's the proof:
Van treats make walkers happy. Van treats also become your main food source: Amy and I had a treat bucket in our van full of tootsie rolls and Bob's peppermints. While we shared with the walkers, I swear to you I think I ate my weight in those Bob's mints.
It also helps to hand out some fun 3-day swag: buttons, beads, etc.
Amy, as a reminder: SWAG = Stuff We All Get.
Confession is good for the soul: When your crew captain gives you public kudos for doing a good job, it probably isn't a good idea to break the rules later in the day.
We ended up picking up two walkers and we were taking them to what we thought was Pit Stop 3. Nope. It was a Grab-n-go. (we only drop off at Pits stops, lunch and camp. Grab-n-go's are not official drop points). It was also a Grab-n-go that we couldn't access.
So.....not wanting to leave our assigned route--we dropped them off about a mile from lunch. On the road. When no one was looking.
Or so we thought.
Seems as though an official 3-day Full Time Staff member was behind us and witnessed the whole event. WHOOPS!
We called our crew captain and said, "We need to talk to you...." and spilled the beans later in the day. She told us that it was OK and she appreciated us telling her.
Is this the time that I also confess that I ran a stop sign around Gold Medal Park?
Oh...and that I did an illegal u-turn on a red light?
All in all, our crew experience was great. I have decided that I will be back again next year and hope to have as much fun as I did this year.