Saturday, August 29, 2009

Twitter - a Win / Win Situation

I started using Twitter last year ultimately to re-connect with some friends at an old workplace. I've done that and become closer than ever to them as a result. Along the way I've added lots of new contacts that I network and share ideas with and I consider many of them to be friends now as well. I have met several of them IRL (in real life) at events like PodCamp Ohio where I was gathering info to update our foundation website (still a work in progress, but revamped and revitalized).

So all in all it has been a positive experience.

The bonus that I didn't foresee?
Winning prizes!

A list of my winnings thus far:

4-pack of COSI passes from the Connector Podcast on Blogtalkradio (they post notices on Twitter, then they do drawings during their broadcast to their lucky listeners) I donated these for the raffle for the golf tournament for the foundation.

4 4-packs of avitae caffeinated energy water by retweeting (retweet/RT: to resend someone else's message out to all your followers) as a daily prize winner during a contest.

2 tickets to the Ohio State Fair by retweeting their message.

A year's supply of avitae as a first prize winner in their sweepstakes by retweeting. A case each month for the next 12 months - I love avitae!

4-pack of COSI passes from the Connector Podcast - I'm keeping this set to use some cold weekend this fall with our family.

2 tickets to the Jonas Brothers concert from VerizonWireless by retweeting their message. (D loves the JoBros and had never been to any concert before. She and a friend went - they were great seats, just 7 rows from the stage. Priceless!)

My husband has won avitae and restaurant gift certificates, as well as a copy of Trust Agents by Chris Brogan. Since Jim had already purchased a copy to read, he's doing a giveaway of his own on his blog for the extra copy.

Through Twitter we have also gotten donations, sponsorships and promotion for the foundation.

This doesn't include the free food I've gotten from watching everyone's postings about daily promotions from local restaurants.

Twitter definitely has its rewards!

What are some of your rewards from social media?

Thursday, August 13, 2009

K's Great Adventure - part 3 The Road Home

18 days

64 songs

104 performances

120 miles

Those are the stats, but those are just numbers and they don't begin to sum up K's experience in the All-Ohio State Fair Youth Choir (and the miles don't include the week of boot camp before the fair started!).

The AOSFYC choir performed every day of the fair, 4-6 concerts scheduled each day. They started every morning with a couple hours of rehearsal. Then they marched from the dorm to each concert location doing cadences and cheers along the way. In between concerts the choir marched around the fairgrounds and serenaded different vendors, sharing their voices and providing musical fun to fair-goers. The AOSFYC also marched in the daily parade, doing their cadences and singing songs from the Natural Resources area clear back to the north end of the fairgrounds where their dorms are located.

The kids worked incredibly hard each day - and it definitely paid off. We were able to go to the fair 5 or 6 times (I think I had fair french fries for dinner every time - I've had enough till next year ... maybe) and saw them perform more than a dozen times. Here is one of my favorite songs at my favorite venue:

It wasn't all work though. The kids had small pockets of free-time during the day and usually an hour or two in the evening. During these times they rode rides and had their fill of fair food - usually the vendors would see their badges and let them ride for free, or give them discounts on snacks. They got to hang out with their new choir friends and further cement the bonds they were forming.

The final week of the fair had some added activities. They had the Opus Olympics - a night of relay races and games between the Opus groups (an Opus is what they call the smaller groups they divide the 200 kids into on the first day for team-building and activities throughout the entire fair). A Recruit Day was held with about 40 prospective members tagging along with the choir members and performing with them - a great opportunity to help them see if they want to apply for the choir next year. And Alumni Day had hundreds of AOSFYC alumni attending the fair and singing with the 2009 choir.

The conductor, the staff and the CITs added to the whole experience. All are very talented individuals sharing their time, humor, love of music and friendship with the kids.

The last day of the fair arrived and we were excited to get to bring K home with us. But not until after the final concert - the Friendship Finale.

While waiting for the concert to begin, I met some people sitting behind me - the gentleman had been in the choir back in the early 90's and has since moved to Florida, the woman was his mother who lives in Kentucky now. They drove up together just to see the concert. They talked about his experience with the AOSFYC and what it meant to him and what it still means to him today. Listening to their story, I couldn't help but imagine coming back with K in 15-20 years and watching and reliving it with her.

At the Friendship Finale, the 2009 AOSFYC performed together for the last time. Hundreds of people were in attendance. They sang 50 of their songs and received several standing ovations. Many tears were shed during the Finale, by the parents, the kids and the staff. These 200 kids who came together for the first time less than 3 weeks before, along with the CITs and the staff had become a family.

When we brought K home, she reunited with our dog, laid down on her own bed for a minute, and took a shower (alone for the first time in weeks). Then, despite the fact that she was exhausted and it was getting close to midnight, she logged into her FB account and added all 200+ new AOSFYC friends. They have been chatting and sharing pictures and memories online. K is already making plans to attend the reunion in February and looking forward to the fair next year.

Friends for 18 days, family forever.