I am a bit of an optimist. In the past, I have even been called an idealist. With that being said, once I set my mind upon something, I am pretty stubborn in my passion and follow through on my ideas.
I am a passionately optimistic stubborn idealist, I guess, so I don’t just throw around fluffy ideas and then let them fizzle to nothing. My parents instilled a work ethic in me that gets applied to all that I do in my home with my family, my job and my community.
So, when the idea popped into my head to have a community summer challenge, I knew that it had to be BIG.
Last year, throughout the summer, we had weekly contests on our Revitalize Red Lake Facebook page. We asked people to take photos of their fairy gardens one week (they were super popular last year!). We asked for photos of garden ornaments, and best perennial gardens, most maintained lawns and so forth.
The public voted with the number of “likes” that each photo received that week on our Facebook page and they won a super awesome Revitalize Red Lake t-shirt. This year, I wanted to “one up” last year’s concept and get the community more involved in getting out of their own yard and into Red Lake’s big yard (or playground, if you will).
So I brainstormed a list of challenges that could be done in the community such as getting one’s photo taken by the inuksuk at the turn around, share a unique s’mores recipe, taking a photo of a float plane taking off, going down one of the park slides, harvesting something from nature and baking with it, and so forth.
Every week, I posted 4 new challenges for the community, and ran these challenges for 10 weeks starting mid-June and lasting until the first week of September. In the meantime, Aileen and I collected donations from the community and ended up with well over $3000 worth of donations that were being turned into “Staycation” packages.
Wow, eh?! In order to win the grand Staycation prize in the Revitalize Red Lake Great Summer Challenge, one had to do the most challenges over the course of the 10 weeks. The great thing is that you did not have a time limit.
You had ALL summer to do the challenges and were allowed to go back and do challenges that had been posted weeks before. In order to be eligible, you had to post photos of yourself doing said challenges on the Facebook page, but only on Fridays! (After all, I was collecting all of this information and could not spend all of my time looking for photos. I dedicated my Fridays to being close to the computer to ensure that everyone that joined the challenge was documented.
With that list of weekly entrants, we also had weekly winners that won small prizes such as boxes of ice cream bars, or coupons from the North West Health Unit’s Healthy Living program or one of Gold corp’s awesome picnic bag packages. There was a real buzz going on as people gathered up their children and groups of friends and went to the Heritage Centre, on a ferry ride to McKenzie Island and popped into new businesses to see what they’re all about.
They explored Norseman Park and visited the small towns that they don’t usually get to. We had over 60 participants over the course of the summer and over 400 challenges were done collectively!
Call me an idealist, but I think that was a pretty darn creative way to get people – engaged with their community and learning just that much more about what makes this district awesome. And you know what? It was all done by two people; just two people that have very busy lives.
It was not a 40 hour per week paid job…it was two volunteers that sim ply love this town and wanted to engage the community in a fun, creative way that actually helps the community in a plethora of ways from supporting local businesses to having a stronger sense of community with the towns we call home. Just imagine what we could do if 10 or even 5 of us worked together for the betterment of the community!
If you live in Sioux Look out or Vermilion Bay or Dryden or Ear Falls or anywhere in between and you’re reading this article and want to know more about this challenge to perhaps try it in your community, just give me a shout through Facebook. I’ll share what we did with you.
By the way, Hilary Reid won the grand Staycation package by completing just one more challenge over her competition! Second and third place went to Kelly Amell and Kailie Horne.
Super job everyone, and thank you again to the donators and participants. Aileen and I could not have done this – without all of you. #lovewhereyoulive Staycation winner Hilary Reid being presented with her grand prize for – doing the most challenges this summer from – Rhonda Beckman of Re vitalize Red Lake.