Getting Started

Borrowed from the Virginia site and modified a bit, this is a quick list of how to get things rolling at your school. Be sure to also check the Program Guide for suggestions, and feel free to use the contact form to send us any questions.

How do I start Odyssey of the Mind at my school?

There is no one, correct, answer to this question. Each school and school system has its own guidelines for clubs and organizations, its own degree of faculty involvement, and its own approach to Odyssey of the Mind. Some school districts give financial support, and some do not. However, the following steps are some you might consider in getting started:

  1. Talk to the principal about the goals and values of Odyssey of the Mind. Get approval for this extra-curricular activity. Find out whether the county or city school system already sponsors the program. Explain what might be required in terms of sending flyers home, having a meeting for interested parents and students, enlisting a faculty sponsor (if you are a parent and not a faculty member), and perhaps soliciting teachers to judge at the State Tournament.
  2. Contact the State Director to be sure they have you on their mailing list. Find out what costs there are at the state level for participation.
  3. If the program is not financed by the school district, examine methods of financing with the school principal. Determine who might finance the $135 membership fee and whether any funds might be available to pay tournament fees, coaches’ training fees, state membership fees, etc. Consider charging each participant a minimal fee of $5-$10 to put in a club treasury to cover these costs.
  4. Talk to the PTA/PTSA president about Odyssey of the Mind. If the funds are not available from the principal but he or she approves, ask the PTA for funding. Send in the membership application now or wait until you see if enough people are interested in the fall. (Packets with the rules and problems are mailed the end of August/first of September. If you do not send in money until September or later, it will take 3-4 weeks to get the packet back after you mail your application.)
  5. Determine who will be the “School Coordinator” to help form teams and disseminate information to coaches and teams.
  6. In September or October, invite interested parents, students and teachers to an Awareness Meeting to tell them about Odyssey of the Mind and how to form teams. The information about this meeting can be sent by flyer, PTA newsletter and/or announcements over the PA system. You may wish to distribute additional information (program overview, problem synopses) at the meeting. You might have a sample Spontaneous problem for the kids (or parents!) to try.
  7. Recruit coaches by explaining a team cannot be formed without a coach. (Some schools have had much success by requiring that each team parent have some responsibility, either as coach, assistant, team volunteer, spontaneous coach, etc.)
  8. Have students sign up and juggle their interests, ages, and available coaches to form teams. (Some schools have try-outs either to limit the number of teams or to determine commitment on the part of students. Some schools have other methods of selection. Ideally, all interested students should have the opportunity to participate!!)
  9. Provide initial support to coaches by giving information about training, copies of the rules and of the problems, and a copy of your school’s membership card. Make sure you are on the State Director’s mailing list!

Other team and coaches resources can be found here