I’ve taken a job managing 400+ teenage volunteers, for the Vancouver International Children’s Festival. It’s a six-month full-time gig, culminating with the Festival at the end of May. Holy cow! Or given that I have already begun to conceptualize these 400 latent teenager volunteers as mutant ninja turtles—cowabunga. Dude.
I’ve never worked a full-time gig in Vancouver before. It is a little terrifying, re-crafting my life as a nine-to-fiver, waking to a daily alarm clock, counting minutes and shopping on weekends. It’s an affront to my cherished self-identity: i am a creative person dammit not a working drone must have my freedom sleep when i want eat when i want blah blah blah… it’s all just story. Story needs to be challenged.
Of course the staff is all women, being arts admin (ie low pay and no glory). They seem friendly and enthusiastic about their work—and really, who wouldn’t be, managing clowns and promoting puppet shows. The office is close by and i can buzz home for lunch, until we move the operation to Granville Island for the best ever bike commute.
And then, there are the 400 teenagers… Teenagers! What the hell are those about? Teenagers are mysterious, terrifying, and fascinating. They are exploding hormone bombs, ticking bundles of potential, shrouded in esoteric pop rituals and perplexing fashion choices. They probably won’t get the Mutant Turtles reference at all. They make us feel old. I don’t personally know any teenagers at this point, but they are interesting people. I think people are interesting people. I’m proceeding on the hypothesis that they respond to the same motivations as other humans I’ve worked with: respect, stimulation, pleasure, responsibility, reward. I suspect they might have somewhat shorter attention spans, what with video games and TikTok and, oh, teenagerhood – but I don’t know this for a fact. 400 of them. It’s bound to be interesting and frankly, I’m stoked.
Curiosity is the highest human attribute. It guards against expectation and disappointment. And so I jump into this adventure, with curiosity. Me and 400 teenage ninja turtles— what could go wrong?