My surroundings tonight are a little different than my previous writing scenes. I'm sitting at a high square table with my laptop set up on a placemat. There is not one, but a whole plethora of windows providing a view of a green backyard, and there is a gigantic fridge just steps away filled with perishable food items.
Indeed, the Great Canadian Chicken Expedition has ended and the Maple Lodge Special Events crew is HOME!
At about 3:30 this afternoon, the Showtruck arrived at its final destination. Music was blasting from a live band, while confetti and streamers flew into the air as hundreds of Maple Lodge employees applauded and cheered for the trailer as it rolled majestically across the dusty lot...
Ok, truthfully, the welcoming parade never showed. But we WERE greeted by a display just as awesome! Shortly before our arrival, Frank pulled the old Showtruck from last summer right up to the security gates of the Lodge which was decked out with balloons and a sign bearing the words "Welcome Home Team."
Yes, 31 days later, we're back in Brampton, Ontario - and I can't believe that our cross-Canada adventure is over!!!
After driving all the way to Victoria BC and back, it was so surreal driving into the Lodge lot this afternoon. It felt like it had been forever since we last took the Winston Churchill exit off the 401, and yet, when we were back the shop, washing the truck and talking with Frank, James and Kate, it felt like no time had passed at all. It's so hard to believe that we've been through all the major cities in Canada in the last month!
What an amazing month it was to say the least! I've been a part of the Special Events team for three years now, but July 2010 definitely trumps previous MLF adventures. It was an experience I will NOT soon forget.
Even though I've been on the team since I was 18, this year is my first summer as Team Leader. The difference between being a member and being El Capitano? Instead of taking orders, I give them. Oddly enough, this concept took me a little while to get used to. Starting in May, I was suddenly in a leadership position which was defined by bigger expectations and responsibilities - the main one being the responsibility of leading a team across the country for one month.
AHA! Yeah right.
I remember feeling stressed and flat-out nervous when I first learned that I was going to be Team Leader for the national team. Being in charge of local events was one thing, but coordinating events thousands of kilometres away? HOW?
What's more, when I saw the new Showtruck for the first time, I literally felt like David looking Goliath right in the face. Learning how to work that thing was quite an overwhelming experience and I wondered how in the world we were going to take it across Canada. There were so many little details to think about which made me wonder if this trip would be a success. How were we going to get product? Where were we going to fill up propane? How were we going to clean the truck? Where were we going to fill up our water tanks? What do I do with the breakers again?? WILL I BE ABLE TO DO THIS?
Well folks, it's August 3rd and the chicken has been served. Mission. Accomplished.
Despite the stress, nerves and inevitable exhaustion that comes with taking care of the execution of special events, I am SO happy that I took on this challenge. I've learned so much from this experience, specifically the art of "going with the flow," the practise of double-checking everything, and the importance of knowing that "Yes, I CAN do it!"
Before I left for this trip, I remember my 92-year-old Uncle saying to me, "You can't be nervous about anything! If you're gonna do it, get out there and hit 'em hard!"
From Brampton to Victoria, I think I did just that, and it's exactly what I intend to do for my next adventure: a semester exchange program in Denmark starting in February for TV Journalism! Despite the nervousness and stress I know I will be feeling in six months, what I've learned from this cross-Canada tour is that I have it in me to delve into a new situation and accomplish something GREAT.
But hang on a minute.
The success of MLF's Summer Tour 2010 is not for ONE SECOND just my own doing. I wasn't province-hopping alone out there, people. Rather, I was in the company of five awesome people who know how it's done. Grant, Cassandra, Natalie, Josh, Mike and I are a team, and it was the SIX of us that made our trip a grand accomplishment! It was OUR work and personalities combined that made those chicken buyers smile. Without a doubt.
So really: WE did it!
WE made head office employees light up as they sampled a Salsalitta chicken thigh and WE made kids smile by making them chicken hats and free hot dogs. WE raised over $1,000 for Sunshine Dreams for Kids and WE put on ten events that I believe left Maple Lodge's mark on the West - our goal right from the start.
And that's not all.
We drove 10205 kilometres across Canada. We hotel-hopped like mad and still found the energy to wake up the next morning and keep driving, no matter how long the GPS said it would be until our next destination. We pranced through endless fields of canola flowers, we tried on cowboy hats at the Calgary Stampede, we rode a rollercoaster indoors at the West Edmonton Mall, we took at 70 ft. trailer on a ferry, we stood in the Pacific ocean and we saw the skyline from the base of the Rocky Mountains...
All because we promote Maple Lodge chicken. How amazing is that?! The things we have seen and experienced in the past month were made possible because of a small summer job that we took on to pay for school and rent and everything else.
Really, that may be just as beautiful as the mountains themselves. In life, it's the decisions that take you somewhere you never expected to go that make living such a rich experience. Who knew that taking a job at Maple Lodge Farms three years ago would lead to THIS! Chicken took me across Canada, and soon journalism will be taking be across the ocean. More experiences to come!!
Life is nothing short of an adventure and you never know where it's going to lead you to next. So dive in, I say! Bask in it! And take a bite out of every opportunity it throws at you...
That, and a Maple Lodge Farms Ultimate chicken dog, of course.
For MLF Special Events, I’m Kimberly Ivany. Georgetown.