The adventure-based learning competition Stuttgart48 takes place for the fourth time in 2016, this year with the motto "Pirates – get ready to board“. Stuttgart48 is a social project for children and youths who are disadvantaged in their daily lives compared with other kids. It is organized by Move&Do Stuttgart, an adventure-based learning program for young people in Stuttgart, and is supported by the Laureus "Sport for Good" Foundation with partners such as Daimler. The project inspires children and youths alike. So much so that they gladly invest their weekend to take part even when the weather is lousy.
A rainy Saturday in June. Ten o'clock in the morning. Kevin, 13, smiles contentedly – he made it. He is over the moon about getting to ride shotgun for a few laps in a bright yellow Mercedes-AMG GT Sport (Fuel consumption combined (petrol): 9,3 l/100 km, CO₂-emissions: 216 g/km ) before he goes to the next of the 20 stations of the game in all. He and his team, the "Death-Defying Skull Hunters", have already mastered the first two stations, the ferry and ship salvage, with flying colors. At the ferry station, the skull hunters built a ferry using five round logs and a plank. Their only aid was a slat two meters long. They had to move a specified distance without ever touching the ground. Kevin and his three teammates easily stayed within the allotted 20 minutes.
Kevin has another ambitious goal - he wants to finish in fourth place or better this year. Last year, his team unfortunately only managed to come in next to last at Stuttgart48. It's about teamwork, but also about bonding, persevering and being fast. 48 hours, 20 teams of four kids each, plus a "guardian angel" per team. That's what they call the team coaches who protect the kids from excessive ambition and potential dangers. The challenges are manifold: Paddling, climbing, racing, riding a BMX bike, bowling, diving, a high-wire course and even rappelling from a church steeple.
Daniel, 14, another death-defying skull hunter, participates this year mainly to be able to rappel from the church steeple. "Last time, I didn't dare to do it and felt sorry afterwards," says the 14-year-old. He is absolutely determined to change that this year. He wants to be brave. He wants to persevere. Daniel loves fun and action in general, which is why he signs up for Stuttgart48 every year. And also a little bit to prove to himself what he can do, to test his personal limits and maybe even exceed them. Rewarding yourself after you fought hard and not giving up right away - simply persevering.
Each one of us has certainly gone to their personal limit before to achieve a goal. For the participants of Stuttgart48 this is something very special. Confidence, sense of achievement and motivation are not always taken for granted in case of boys like Daniel. Daniel attends Wichernschule special school in Fellbach. However, his teacher Marc Bondroit always manages to motivate his guys. He is their "guardian angel" again this year and wants to lead his death-defying skull hunters to victory. That is why his team threw down the gauntlet and put the others at Stuttgart48 on notice: "You skulls are ours." It was Daniel's idea and, as Justin, Kevin and Marvin believe, the slogan fits the team name. But will that be enough to win?
Visit of Thomas Weber, Daimler Board of Management for Group Research & Development Mercedes-Benz Cars
Let's get back to the bright yellow Mercedes-AMG GT Sport and Kevin. Thomas Weber is the one who made it possible for Kevin to experience a ride in it. Weber is responsible on the Daimler Board of Management for Group Research and Mercedes Benz Cars Development, and this weekend he is also the patron of Stuttgart48. He takes part in the project weekend every year and nonetheless never ceases to be amazed by the kids' achievements: „I met several children and youths today who were here last year, too. The youths told me how they learned through Sport for Good to participate in group activities and to accomplish something through personal commitment".Taking part in Stuttgart48 helped them to change their ways and even to finish their schooling. "When I see how the stronger and the weaker, big kids and little kids complement and help each other to complete the tasks, then this project has already made a major contribution to the personal development of the youths", as Thomas Weber describes his impressions.
The skull hunters led by Kevin get to next station fully motivated: the racetrack on the BMX course in Bad Cannstatt. They are running behind schedule. One goal of Stuttgart48 is to complete as many stations as possible in the available time. Time will tell whether they will be able to make up the minutes they lost.
One of their competitors, the team from Rohräckerschule Esslingen led by guardian angel Max Krieg, is already waiting in the starting gate and champs at the "bit" as race horses are wont to do right before the start. They hoist their black flag to put a little bit of pressure on the other teams. The youngest mate in the team of Max Krieg is 13, the oldest is 15 years of age. They are the defending champions. A strong team. They stick together and don't get discouraged when there's a problem and things get dicey. Like they did last year. The team has learned from it. "I believe it is important always to deliberate first how you're going to do something, discuss it in the team and only then get started. That is the best way from a strategy point of view", Max Krieg believes. The motto of the Black Flag team this year: "Today is a good day." Things are going well for Krieg's team on the racetrack, they're even able to make up a few minutes. The rest of the day will continue to be a fight for the death-defying skull hunters to complete more stations.
Sunday. At last – the momentous day of the decision has arrived. First they have to make it to Max-Eyth-See lake in Stuttgart. What spirits are the death-defying skull hunters in? They are in a good mood and relaxed, at least seemingly so, but maybe it's also a bit of cover for a case of nerves. Yesterday, they managed to complete eighteen of twenty stations. That is a fantastic accomplishment.
Today, the teams are equipped with a treasure map. The stations, which were christened after places with sweet-sounding names such as Tortuga, Port Royal, Corn Island and Nassau, have to be approached by canoe. The goal: Find the right buoy on Max-Eyth-See, where the treasure is hidden. And again it is about skill, team spirit and speed.
Brownies provide the death-defying skull hunters with the necessary food for the nerves. The treasure hunt can begin. After arriving at the first station, the task is to tie a human knot by moving and contorting your bodies. Marc Bondroit, the team's guardian angel attempts to describe the scene: "…one guy makes a loop on the ground, one guy steps on it and the other crawls through underneath". Eighteen Daimler employees from R&D in total assist at the stations of the game or help out at the barbecue station, which serves lunch to hungry pirates. One of the R&D employees is Manuela Heinze: In her professional life, she works as an IT coordinator. Here, she runs the "tying people into knots" station and tries to coordinate the crawling and jabbering of the individual teams. That is not an easy job, but she loves her station: "The kids are all highly motivated and enthusiastic! It is just a super feeling here!“
After what felt like umpteen stations, and lots of sweat later, the death-defying skull hunter pirates are seated on a rickety bench eagerly awaiting the results. Former participants like Tolga and Berkan are there as helpers this year. They keep a keen eye on the trophies until the announcement. Tolga and Berkan will soon graduate from secondary school. Berkan will start his vocational training at GARP in Plochingen and his goal is to maybe become a skilled worker at Daimler eventually.