I apologize in advance for those that will not agree with what I am about to write and if you have issues: be aware on this I speak for myself.
I -REALLY- dislike that the 6 week build season opens up mentors to criticism that they don’t ‘spend enough time’ with their students. It’s frankly insulting and sometimes actually dangerous to the scale of the opportunity mentoring presents and I think it hurts people sometimes physically.
I am personally a very busy person and it is possible that a personal crisis for me could have a global economic impact. During a build season I often have to pick between simply finding 10 minutes to do anything and going to help someone. Then I take the chance that when I go there: now I can help, but maybe the students have other priorities. Worse I spread around my e-mail, try to get on Slack, check ChiefDelphi and yet I have noticed that people do not consider me available to help unless I am physically present at a place that reduces my access to the Internet in such a way that I am then in jeopardy of creating personal risk. Even more frustrating if I get interrupted while I am there, again, who am I to have responsibilities.
I manage engineering teams on an International level. Do you think it would be acceptable for them not to work unless I am standing on top of them? Has anyone seen my name or any of my company logo on any MORT robot, or any FRC robot at all, despite my money pouring into FIRST on and off for 20 years? I often don’t even get a receipt for my donations and I am hardly the only one.
The only thing I have come to dislike more than this 6 week build season over the 20 years I’ve been involved with FIRST is that it’s -NOT- really a 6 week build season at all. So it’s not like telling the people that depend on me outside of FIRST it’s -just- 6 weeks is true. No it’s easily 20-30 weeks for me with periods of much lower activity during the summer because we run into April and we start up again in September.
-THIS- is the reason I have decided to be more a sponsor and mentor in a less ‘always on way’. I personally refuse to accept the pretense of the 6 week build season any more. It may work for some of you but this is toxic to me. I can rally my resources to build a Makerspace with the necessary resources to work whenever it is possible in a year. Freeing myself to actually have a life. I can still give FIRST money and volunteer. Heck I can even create opportunity for the students like this they don’t have now.
At least this new approach for me allows me to think of this in hours committed to mentoring versus hours being dragged into a crisis beyond my control with implications far beyond the understanding of other people.
I don’t know the OPs team. I do not know how many other commitments to FIRST your mentors may or many not have. However at least for me I do know that Mount Olive High School is now one of the few, possibly the only school anywhere, that hosts jrFLL, FLL, FTC, FRC and has 2 FRC teams in the same school. So to my fellow mentors and students that read this and for those outside of our MAR circle: when you think someone is just not giving up enough - it is a commendable thing to sacrifice for another in little ways (a meal, a hug, a trip to the store in your car) let alone bleed for them, often in silence, as I have seen some mentors do. Just never you mind if you win - it is often literally that you tried at all and if more people gave just a little this world would be a better place. Some of us have time, some of us have money, some of us are just positive people to be around - whatever the balance of the sacrifice is - this should not be about a few people cleaning up the mess of millions.
The digital janitor