The OCP Blog

 

It’ll be Great!!

One of my favorite teachers in high school was Mr. Hooker, our biology teacher. His class was never easy, but he always made it fun, and one of the things he always said to motivate us when faced with a tough challenge was, “it’ll be great!” My brother and I worked on his paint crew during the summer, and when I (with the longest wingspan) climbed the 40’ ladder to reach the peak of a three-story house, he’d smile and say those magic words.

In the spring of 2000 my younger brother, Matt, joined Mr. Hooker and our other favorite teacher, Mr. Peterson, on a 90-mile canoe odyssey down the Vermont side of Lake Champlain, studying its history, biology, and geology along the way. They put in on the Otter Creek, a long river that empties into the lake near Vergennes, VT.

On day 1, immediately after pushing off, one of the boats caught a tree snag and flipped over, dumping two kids and their packs into the creek. Off to a nice start. The next day a muddy embankment collapsed, leaving Matt standing chest deep in 50-degree water. A couple nights later when they were near the falls at Vergennes, Mr. Peterson had a dream that featured Mr. Hooker going over the falls and yelling, “It’ll be greaaaaaat!!” on the way down.

And it was! But by the time they paddled into Missisquoi Bay near the Canadian border they’d battled high waves, stale bagels, sore muscles, and exhaustion. But they also had a fun, once-in-a-lifetime, in-depth learning experience that you could never get just reading about that fascinating lake in books. The tiny but victorious boats seemed to disappear between its waves in the footage on the evening news.

Fast forward to OCP in 2017, the year that marked the transition between two directors. During that in-between time there were just four staff. The prospect of running our programs and keeping the community center peaceful and safe with just four of us was exhausting to think about. It was like being in a boat on a river, careening towards a waterfall, not knowing how long the drop will be or whether there are rocks waiting for us at the bottom. I remembered Mr. Hooker’s words: “It’ll be great!” And that became our slogan for the next 8-months.

The daily work of caring for struggling people, leading activities and programs, and just keeping our environment calm and peaceful means that staff often absorb the tension, fear, grief, and hostility that our community members bring with them. We carry these things in our minds, spirits, and bodies, so that unlocking those doors in the morning can feel daunting at the least. Sometimes we have to take a deep breath, say “it’ll be great,” and take the plunge, trusting that God will catch us when we go over the edge. “It’ll be great” reminds us to zoom out from the events of the moment to see the bigger picture: that we are there for each other, and God is there for us. “It’ll be great” is a reminder that when we fail and get stuck in the mud, we can trust that God’s love for our community members is more than enough to overcome our limits.

It has been a year since Sam joined our team, restoring us to our full compliment of 5 management staff. Not only did we successfully maintain the services we offered in 2017, but in 2018 we have found new ways to serve and support our community members, including case management and expanded extreme weather hours. While that time of transition was not easy, I think we can safely say that we made it through just fine.

It was great!

Eric Olson-Getty

Director of Development & Administration