Are you going to be a Summer RA? Wondering about what to do with your residents during the “dog days” of summer? Even though the summer can be very different than the rest of the year on our campuses, there are still plenty of programming ideas that you can share with your residents.
Just because it is the summer, don’t think that your residents won’t appreciate having door tags with their names on them greeting them on their doors. Try to develop a theme for your section by coordinating bulletin board ideas with door tag ideas. Hold a section meeting the first night that your residents arrive. Have a survey awaiting them to find out the variety of interests your residents have. Do your homework ahead of time to find out what your area has to offer. Pick up brochures about different landmarks or places of interest. Include these ideas in your survey. Look for low-cost or free ideas as many institutions do not provide summer RA’s with section money for programming. Get your residents involved with the planning of events. Find out what the summer holidays are so you can plan celebrations ahead of time. Make sure you have a Birthday list so that you can make those Summer Birthdays even more special for your residents.
So what kinds of programming ideas are out there for the Summer? The possibilities are endless. Think of all those summer activities you like to do. Plan a trip to an ice cream shop. Have your residents make ice cream for a section event. See if there are any major league or minor league baseball teams around. Minor League baseball is not very expensive and lots of fun to go and see. Check into nature areas around your school. Take your residents on a picnic or go for a hike. Find out about favorite swimming holes in your area. People love to go see waterfalls and be cooled off by the crisp cool water. Go to the beach. Wake your residents early to see a sunrise, or meet up to watch the sunset from the highest point close to your campus. Go star-gazing and talk about the constellations. Take a bike hike. Find out about public swimming pools in your area. Create your own fun by hosting some games – softball, volleyball, ultimate frisbee. Challenge other sections or challenge some of the departments on campus. Since this is an Olympic summer, host your own Olympics, including opening ceremony. Take your residents to the golf driving range, batting cages, or to ride the go-carts. Go horseback riding. Find out if your school will allow you to use some of their outdoor equipment and go camping for the weekend. Set up a lemonade stand and serve it to the college community. Plant your own section garden and grow your own vegetables. Have a watermelon seed-spitting contest with your section. People love to have pie-eating contests!
What…you don’t like the heat or the bugs??? No need for concern. There’s lots for you to do, too. Find the closest mall and organize a shopping or people-watching trip. Look in the paper to find out about free concerts in the park. Summertime is Carnival and Festival time in many areas. Take a trip to an amusement park. Set up a scavenger hunt around the area. Go to the movies. Many theaters host date night or cheaper tickets before 5.
How about community service? Volunteer to work with children at a day camp near by. Participate in a river clean-up. Help clean-up your campus. Offer to mow the lawn for elderly people who live in the area. Hold a mini relay to raise money for a charity. Organize a recycling project. Hold a car wash and donate the money to your favorite cause.
There are activities you can do right within your own hall, too. Hold a movie night and make some popcorn to share. Start a book club with your residents. Play board games. Trivial Pursuit, Pictionary, Disney Charades, Bolderdash, and Yhatzee are great games to challenge people with. Make up a Jeopardy game or “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” Play cards or host a tournament. Play the roommate game with the people in your section. Make up questions and ask each roommate what the other will answer. Make sure only one roommate is in the room when asking the questions and bring the other back in. Host a dance party in your section. Create your own musical tape of your residents’ favorite songs. Hold a costume contest. Decorate your doors for Fourth of July. Attend the 4th of July parade or the fireworks. Have each resident create their own dish and hold a pot-luck dinner. Invite people from different departments to come and speak to your section about something of interest to them. Take your section out on a ropes course. Hold a Summer Birthday party.
Try to develop a section newsletter. Have residents write up articles for this paper. Have a poetry contest or a poetry reading. Find out if any residents play any musical instruments and hold a jam session with them. Host a talent show. Form a study group with your residents. Host a cultural dinner and have each one share a dish from their country.
Even though it is the summer, and there are not as many students around as the rest of the year, you still need to find some opportunities to make it fun for your residents to be a part of the community. If your residents are happy in their community, they will tend to make it more of a positive place to live. Make sure you find out what their interests are and try to create ways to peek those interests. Give them things to do so that they won’t miss home as much. Take advantage of all there is to do in your area and pass that on to your residents. This will make the summer go by so much quicker, and will help to create some lasting memories for you and your students!
Submitted by Linda Hendrickson, Residence Director and Assistant Coordinator for Student Orientation, Westfield State College