Super Bowl volunteer diary part 2: Training and boxes of swag

Laura McCallum, MPR’s managing editor for daily news, is one of the 10,000 people volunteering to greet visitors during Super Bowl week this winter. She’ll be documenting her experience periodically on NewsCut. Check out part 1 here.

I’m officially trained in for my Crew 52 assignment. And it is (drumroll) … at volunteer headquarters, where it will be a climate-controlled 72 degrees. That was my first choice, and I’ll admit, I’m pretty relieved. I do have some experience with managing chaos, so I’m sure the Crew 52 coordinators recognized that.

My potential duties include checking in some of the 10,000 volunteers, handing out uniforms, scheduling and helping serve meals to volunteers. Since the hardier souls will do their shifts outside, we’ll have plenty of soup and hot chocolate to warm them up afterwards.

The Bold North Zip Line folks (yes, there will be a zipline over the Mississippi River that MPR News’ Mike Edgerly plans to ride with a GoPro camera) will also work out of Crew 52 headquarters on Nicollet Mall. We might end up helping them too, as they check in the more than 4,000 people who’ve already bought tickets. The zipline is apparently “wildly popular” and they’re adding an extra pre-sale on Wednesday. Edge is braver than me, if he doesn’t chicken out (his words, not mine).

The volunteer who kicked off the training told us that when it was over, we’d each pick up a box with our Crew 52 gear, including parka and beanie.  He then made it very clear that once we got our box, we needed to immediately exit headquarters. No sticking around to make sure everything was in the box, no exchanging sizes with other volunteers until you’ve left the training. Get your box and go.

Since I first heard about the call for Super Bowl volunteers, I wondered how much of the training would focus on the potential for terrorist attacks and sex trafficking. There was nothing in my training about sex trafficking, although it’s possible the volunteers stationed at hotels get info on what to watch for.  We did watch a video on safety from the Counter Terrorism Education Learning Lab, narrated by Jessica Kensky & Patrick Downes, a married couple who both lost legs during the Boston Marathon bombing. They had tips about the kind of suspicious behavior that should raise red flags, like surveillance photography, packages deliberately left behind and drones (no drones are allowed in the Super Bowl zone).

Other very important rules from the training:

  • Only wear your Crew 52 uniform when you’re volunteering. If you wear it to Super Bowl Live on Nicollet Mall, people might think you’re working and ask you all sorts of questions. Definitely don’t wear it to the bar.
  • Do not take pics with your credentials (which we’ll get at the beginning of our first shift) and post them on social media. People might try to replicate them.
  • Wear at least one item from your uniform every volunteer shift. I won’t need that parka at headquarters, but I can always wear the polo or that cool scarf.
  • Wear your credentials to your shift, or you’ll be sent home.
  • Last but not least, pick up your box of Crew 52 swag and exit the premises.

And we all did, stopping outside headquarters to check out our new gear.

Bonus: Laura McCallum’s dog, Mia, in the aforementioned cool scarf

  • Thanks, Laura. We will be looking forward to your reports!

  • Renee

    I am a hotel volunteer and we did have police there presenting on sex trafficking. Tragic and sad, but I hope we can prevent it!

    • Thanks, I did hear that from another hotel volunteer. At least you’re getting tips on what to look for to try to prevent it.

  • Nice pooch photo!

  • Diane Hageman

    Thanks, Laura, for the primer. My hubby and I get our training on Sunday — and we’re stationed outside!! Really hoping the -20 weather is done!!

  • Jeff C.

    Snopes says the rumor of the Super Bowl increasing the amount of sex trafficking is “mostly false”.

  • chlost

    Has the zipline been tested in -20 conditions? You know, just in case……

    • Good question – I’m sure Mike Edgerly will ask about that before braving it with a GoPro.

      • If you tell Edge there’s a chance the cable will snap, he’ll push people out of the way to get closer to the front of it.

  • joetron2030

    Thanks for the behind-the-scenes peek into what’s going on in preparation for the Super Bowl!

  • Elizabeth Snelson

    Have you looked into the gofundme site collecting to help house homeless families that will not have access during Super Bowl week to the
    hotels the counties usually rely on for emergency housing?

    • Do you know who’s coordinating it? Send the link, we’ll look into it, thanks.

  • Ray R. Lewis

    Thanks Laura for providing the inside scoop, as an embedded journalist, of the recruiting, organizing, training and deploying 10,000 Super Bowl Host Committee volunteers. You should also include the social media use of the half of #Crew52 using a private Facebook group as a way of connecting and communicating.

    If the Vikings play at home I think we’ll have a lot of Minnesotans visiting family and friends in the Cities. I believe volunteers will tell fewer stories about the Kensington Runestone, the bi-partisan consensus on public-private funding for the stadium, or the history behind four previous Super Bowl losses. Expect more questions about public transportation, bathroom and ATM locations, and how fast State Fair like crowds can move about with that many layers of clothes

    • Thanks, Ray – that’s true about the volunteer private Facebook group, I haven’t had time to peruse it much but I’ll try to make time.