Sitting at my daughter's intro-to-hockey program tonight I found myself watching one of the coaches. She was standing in the middle of a face-off circle while two or three of the kids skated around the circle. She'd call one of their names and the kid would attempt to pass their puck to her while continuing to skate. Then she'd pass it back.
I mentioned it was an intro to hockey program, right? Suffice to say, the passes were less than accurate.
And her reaction? An honest-to-goodness smile. A laugh, even, but not a mean or mocking laugh. She looked like she was having the time of her life.
She's one of a half dozen or so instructors who work with the kids in this program and, like most, she's probably in high school. My kid's done programs through our city's recreation program since she was just a wee one, starting with parent-tot swimming lessons as an infant. At various times she's done every level of pre-school swimming, soccer (both indoor and outdoor), skating, dance, cheerleading and t-ball. She's done arts camps and gym camps too.
And the common thread? Every single one has been staffed primarily by teens and young adults. And they've all been great. Some have even been exceptional. None of them has been disappointing.
They engage the kids. They get down on the floor/ice/grass with them. They talk to them - not at them - and they sincerely listen to them, too. They learn their names and encourage them at every step. And my kid thrives because of it.
I'm sure every generation wrings their hands about "the kids" and how younger generations are lazy or selfish or what have you. But if the youth employed by my city's rec department are any indication? Things are going to be just fine.
So here's to the coaches, instructors and counsellors that truly love their work. My kid just might be another face in the crowd to you but the way you treat her makes an impact that will last a lifetime. Thanks for all you do.