Going to multiple regionals

Still a rookie team here with questions.

Money aside, how do other teams make multiple regionals work? I have 2 weeks of vacation at my job (recently switched jobs) and I imagine students are only allowed to miss so many days of class.

Doing two wouldn’t be a problem, but it looks like some teams go to every regional plus championship.

Just trying to plan stuff for down the road.

(also, I like to save some vacation time for you know, things like family)

From a work perspective - My job is a little more generous with vacation. But it also gives me a solid week of “civic time” for doing work with programs like FIRST. They’ve also outright paid for me to go to events in the past (time, and cost). I push it a little bit because 125 does 6 official events a season… but it mostly works. Honestly, poke around and see if they have any sort of civic programs.

As for kids getting out of school - Districts are a little different. We only take at most 1 day off school for district events (RIDE was 0 since it was sat/sun) DCMP is a traditional regional. And CMP is CMP and is a whole different story.

edit - Also vacation for family? The only time I see my brother is at CMP

We are doing back to back this week Ventura then next week San Diego (183 miles apart) as a second year team. Mainly getting permission slips for which some kids miss up to 4 days of school. Then if we make St Louis another 4.

The school seems OK as for adult mentors both regionals are within a few hours drive so some will do O’ dark thirty alarm to get there. Myself its an excuse to use PTO my work is trying to get us to use…so no biggie.

This year the school wanted permanent mentors to get the program off the ground at the school (rather than parent garage) so several of us are now “unpaid employees-walk on coaches” of the district…at least it comes with district workman’s comp if a bot runs us over or some other mishap happens. If anyone has a concussion I now know the signs thanks to mandatory training.

To give you an example: In Ventura this weekend (Week 5) 29 bots have one regional under their belt , 1 of those has TWO regional under their belt (Increased QA and final exit in elims in both) , 12 including us this will be our first, 4 of us will also do San Diego next week.

Its very common… to do multiple events at least from what I see…in SoCal

In past years where we’ve been able to do multiple events, I’ve chosen to skip practice day at one or more events to preserve my vacation days. Usually the important work on practice day is just for 4-5 people in the pits. Since I’m the programming mentor and doing high-stress last-minute rushed programming is just asking for bugs, it’s safe for me to not be present.

In the past, I’ve had bosses nice enough to give freebie vacation days because they like FIRST’s mission.

For the students missing school, there are many options:
-Have one regional run on a skeleton crew of the most dedicated/knowledgeable students (as a form of reward for them working hard)
-Have some of the students miss practice day at one regional, and have them come in on Friday morning (also good for saving cash on hotels)
-Only permit the students who are up provably to date with homework/school to attend the 2nd/3rd/4th events.

We generally go to a “far away” regional during our spring break, and a closer one during a normal week, so the students miss only two days of school at most. We don’t have much of an issue with mentors missing work…I let my wife support me (yay for female engineers!) and our other engineering mentor retired last year.

We’ve been doing two regionals all ten years we’ve been a team. Every time we’ve won a regional, it was the second one. It makes a big difference, going to more than one regional.

Our students survive somehow. My brother is right - two regionals drastically increases your chance of doing well in competition, if that’s one of your goals.

Take our team for example. Our robot didn’t even work at our first regional, then took the field by storm in our second one.


Fortunately, the PNW went to a district model last year, so we get a lot more playing time. Before that, there was virtually no way our meager ($10K) budget would allow us to tackle going to another regional.

However, even with the district model, we still issues with kids taking off from school.

One thing we have done is encourage our students to take their grades seriously. No students can attend who have an F, for one. For another, we ask that they don’t skip any classes during the last week of build (to come to build/program) without their teachers’ written consents.

Our mentors: one is the HS shop teacher, one is the school librarian (me), and one is a retired WWF wrestler (no, not kidding on that!) This year it’s been no problem getting the administration to let us get staff subs, because the shop program’s Perkin’s Grant pays for that. Next year we lose our shop program (teacher is retiring and moving to Australia for a year) and everything may unravel. I hear that some teams have paid mentors, though, and since our sports teams all have paid coaches, we will recruit that way. Really hoping we can sit down with our local industries and ask them to “donate” mentor time, too.

Back to the question, though…not sure going to our regional (if we make the cut) is even worth the $8,000+ it would cost our team to go. Driving over 16 hours (both ways) to play for less than 2 hours total time? I mean, we have a nice robot and a great drive team, but it’s not a superstacker. There’s little to no chance we would make it to the quarterfinals, given the PNW superbots. Since most of our kids have gone to the Portland regionals in the past, it’s not a new experience for them, either. Some of the team feels I am lacking in spirit…they feel we should go if we qualify, though they all know the odds. I have a hard time justifying team funds go towards this. Am I being a curmudgeon?

IMO yes… There is a commitment to do this as a Mentor and also as a First participant student, I realize the expense involved…but there are ways around that if motivated the problem is going into it with a defeatist mindset won’t help. What does that teach the kids?

Best I beleive is to do your best and IF you earn a spot and IF financially capable go or at least try. They earned it. If not, oh well you tried. Otherwise they miss out…for no real good reason after giving their best. We all know the rules/expenses going in so should not be a surprise.

In New England, even before districts, events were close enough together that we could do a local event that didn’t require travel or hotels (Hartford was ~20 miles away), and a travel event that was only about 1-1.5 hours away. Now with districts where there are more/closer events, events are only 2 days long, and they are often Saturday-Sunday, it is even easier for the team to attend multiple events without worrying about travel, missing school, or vacation time.

In college, I usually went to 3-4 events as a volunteer, because my schedule was flexible, and there were lots of easily accessible events in New England.

Now that I’ve relocated to Southern California, events are further apart than I am used to. However, my employer supports STEM volunteer activities, and they pay for my time volunteering as a mentor and at events during work hours (I still pay for my own travel to events though). Combined with a 9/80 schedule where I have every other Friday off, as well as one Friday-Sunday regional, I’ve done three events this season while only missing 2 days of work and taking 0 vacation days. My team is doing two events, one of them being the Friday-Sunday event, which has less impact on missed school/vacation time.

It seems a lot of teams go to 2 and it looks to help a lot. if we could afford to take both teams to 2 that would be great but funding would be an issue for us at this time. I think it is an extra 4k per event per team.