Destination Imagination: A journey to the unknown

Have you ever heard of D.I., or Destination Imagination

I had only heard the words in passing from an extended-family member whose kids were involved, and I didn’t understand what the heck it was.

Now, here it is January, and I find myself in charge of a team. And I’m still not exactly sure what the heck it is. 

What I can gather from what I’ve read, the videos I’ve watched, and the day-long information seminar I attended in December, D.I. is a team competition where the adult managers are constantly warned of the dangers of “interference”. 

Ahhhh, interference. This is how I found myself managing a D.I. team. This idea that the kids have to do all the work themselves, with only my guidance—to keep them from cutting off a finger or punching a fellow team member— was appealing to me. In other words, I am discouraged from doing any of the work for them, and even giving them suggestions on how to approach their challenge is a big, fat no-no.

Little did I know that my team of four kids, ages 7-9, would pick one of the hardest, most complicated challenges to do for the big competition this spring. I’d explain it if I could do it justice, but let’s just say it involves creating a skit that involves golf balls, while also building a weight-bearing structure out of wood, glue and hope. The addition of golf balls to this year’s “structure challenge” is new and I think it was added just to shake things up and insure each manager goes a little grayer before the year is up.

My own daughter Jilly is on my team and is the biggest goofball, something I am slightly proud of at times. The other times, I want to wrap her up with duct tape, sit her in the corner and let her teammates work.

Our debut of this idea that exists only in their imagination is the 17th of March, a mere two months away. If the kids advance from regionals, we move on to states on the 31st. I refuse to even consider that they will go to the national championship.

Especially since there has not yet been any consensus on their overall idea and no development of a structure yet. I am half expecting them to enter the competition with a few handwritten notes, a structure of popsicle sticks and Elmer’s glue, and costumes made out of the remnants of our dress-up box.

Wish me luck. Actually, wish them luck. I don’t want to interfere.


  1. I'm with you…I still have NO clue what they are doing. You are much braver than I to become a manager. Should be an interesting show!

  2. Oh DI is awesome! Josh was on a team last year and the kids had sooo much fun. We didn't win anything and it didn't even matter. It really boosted his speaking in front of strangers confidence. I'm really disappointed his new school isn't involved this year. Good luck!!

  3. @SierraSez says

    Really interesting! I bet Alex would love something like that. I recently heard of the MIT scratch program too, which I need to look into more (if it still exists), where kids essentially get to learn how to program in a really fun environment. I'm just too scared to let him explore our computer right now, but will let him run a muck on MITs 🙂

  4. NO intereference? With a group of 7 year olds? Oy, that has my Inner Control Freak twitching.

    Can't wait to see what they come up with, it sounds really cool!

  5. This is pretty normal for a DI team.

    The challenge for the Team Manager is to let the *team* of up to seven students learn who is good at what and leverage the skills. They get better at situational management, teamwork and yes, creativity.

    I was a Team Manager for ten years, and there is a lot of good info for you on the DI web site ( and even the web site. Most affiliates have good content.

    Then there's the page.

    There are over 100,000 students in 30 countries doing these challenges, so you are NOT alone!

    You sound like you're doing it right, and it's so much easier the second year. Facilitate the team. Practice Instant Challenges. Have fun. Don't give them answers (theirs will be better). You'll be amazed by the end of competition!

    Thank you for volunteering!

    All the best,

    Wayne (@WayneNH; @IDODI)

  6. Anonymous says

    DI is one of the best things I have ever done! I participated for 8 years and I want to manage a team of my own someday. It is really one of the greatest things you can do. I would recommend to your daughter stay with it. DI teaches you so many skills that will help you in life. You can't learn creativity, teamwork, and ingenuity in school. Thank you for being a manager. DI couldn't exist without our awesome managers. If you haven't already found this out, watching Instant Challenges as a manager is torture. They put your interference to the test. I hope your team did well at regionals and state if they made it! And I hope you stay in it to make it to globals someday! It is an amazing experience. Happy DI-ing!
    -DI nerd for life

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