The CVTC Diesel Mechanics program’s annual paintball excursion started off as a way to blow off steam at the end of a couple of long, hard semesters of studies, according to instructor Rusty Naylor. Now over a decade old, it has developed into a fun tradition that does have some educational value – even if it’s not directly related to fixing a diesel truck.
“We’re using it as a team-building exercise. It goes along with the Core Abilities,” said Instructor Ron Borek, referring to the list of nine abilities that accompany the College’s mission and values statement.
“Communicate effectively” and “demonstrate social interaction” are on the list.
If you’ve never gone paintballing, it’s sort of a simulated war game in which teams try to accomplish a goal like capturing the other’s flag, shooting each other with harmless, washable paint balls along the way. To win, team members have to communicate effectively with one another and execute plans.
“We have a lot of first- and second-year classes that never speak, they don’t intermingle. This is a way for them to get together and get to know one another,” said Borek.
In that respect, the classroom situation mirrors an actual workplace, in which workers on one shift may not talk much to those on another, even though jobs are often handed from one shift to another. Naylor said the fun day has worked out well as a learning experience.
“We did it as a program about 13 years ago and it was managed well. We’ve been doing it ever since,” he said.
The students find it way more fun than a regular class.
“I thought it was a fun idea. I went paintballing with a church group before, so going with a Diesel Mechanics class didn’t seem that farfetched,” said Mitch Ernst, of Owen.
Bill Buehler, originally from Medford, recalled being socked by the second-year students last year. Now he’s one of the veterans. For most contests during the trip, the students were mixed together.
“We’re going to mix it up, but there will be at least one game between the classes,” said Jacob Shilts of Stanley.
The fact that the class takes such a field trip shows how much fun it can be to go to school at CVTC, but the students realize there’s more involved than just fun.
“It helps to get us working together and strategizing,” said Ernst.