I know it seems like a lifetime ago, but remember Saturday, October 27? The sun was shining, the birds were singing, lines of early voters snaked around community centers. Sure, shelves of batteries, bottled water, and Halloween costumes were being picked clean by anxious shoppers, but life went on as scheduled.
My family’s schedule that day was dominated, as it often is, by a swim meet. But unlike the week before, when both of my kids swam in several events at a fantastic swim meet sponsored by the Chesapeake Bay Aquatics Club on the beautiful campus of St. Mary’s College, not one denizen of chez Ose was competing.
Rather, my husband and son were volunteering at a Columbia Aquatics Association swim meet. Service, it turns out, is as big a part of being a swim family as is competition. For my husband, this means operating the computer that determines the final results of each event. For me, it’s meant countless hours of standing on deck with two stopwatches around my neck, waiting for the instant the swimmer in my lane makes contact with the wall.
And on Saturday, my teenage son followed in our footsteps, not as a computer operator or timer, but as a clerk aide. This involved spending hours on end making sure hundreds of swimmers, all under the age of 9, are lined up in the correct order and lane to swim a long series of 25 yard races.
My son came home Saturday afternoon with tired legs and a new appreciation of all the work that goes into a successful swim meet. In the days to come, we would all be reminded anew of what service means in emergency situations (watch this spot for a blog by Kelly on this very topic), but on Saturday, my son was reminded of the fact that service underlies nearly every dimension of our lives. Better yet, he hit that sweet spot where the volunteer has a hard job to do and does it well, thereby making a vital contribution the success of an event and, by extension, to the community.