By Naomi Skarupinski, Aquatics Director, Town of Tonawanda Parks & Recreation Department
My first encounter with the Creative Problem Solving Institute (CPSI) was five years ago, when the conference was brought back to Buffalo, New York. I began my journey in this creative world as a volunteer who was not exactly sure what I was getting myself into. The very moment that I stepped foot onto the campus, I felt right at home. I felt a sense of understanding from the community of people that were all there to learn from one another: a sense of humbleness.
I have spent four wonderful years volunteering as a “Wing” (Buffalo Wing – get it?!), working in a multitude of ways to help the conference run smoothly from behind the scenes. Much like the CPSI parcipants, the Wings have a very strong connection with one another, as well as with the CPSI community. There is a sense of pride and ownership that is formed when the choice to be a Wing is made. Some of my greatest connections were formed during the moments I was able to assist a leader or work late hours to “close up shop” for the next day. I had the priceless opportunity to encounter the value of the never-ending laughs and deep-level conversations, only as a Wing would. If I could go back and do it all over again, I would begin my journey as a Wing. Always.
As a non-traditional fifth-year returner, I have been given the opportunity to be a member of the Sparks/Immersions Program Team. Yes, the experience of having a greater voice and offering new perspective to CPSI is different than being a Wing. However, the role of being a puzzle piece to bring magic to the conference for all participants is the exact same as the role of a Wing. I look forward to learning from those around me and connecting with old and new colleagues.
I currently work as the aquatics director for the Town of Tonawanda, a position I assumed in August 2016. My personal goal upon taking this role was to apply creativity into my daily work. Simple, yet highly effective. The culture I experience at CPSI each and every year inspires me to do better and be the best form of myself I can possibility be.
I have said since my first day in a creative studies course during my undergraduate years, “Creativity has changed my life in the best possible way. I’m not sure if I can put it into words, exactly.” I want everyone to experience that feeling. The feeling that once you have unlocked what creativity is, you truly have no limits.