Here something true about college: if you pour yourself into the campus experience, you'll never be bored. Dorm life is so unique because there is always an activity going on – whether that be an all-campus event, a building event, a wing event, or something with a smaller group of friends. SAC (Student Activities Committee) has at least one event (but usually three or four) per month, from the outdoor Block Party (complete with root-beer from a keg) to La Fiesta (with salsa dancing and nachos and goldfish races) to TX (talent show) to Minute-to-Win-It in 55th. Each dorm building plans an event once a month, from the Manly Cup competitions (including eggnog chugging and capture the flag) between East and North halls to a glow-in-the-dark dance party in Kuyper basement to canvas painting and gingerbread house making for Covenant and West halls. Further, each RA is in charge of planning a wing event for their residents each week. And intermixed into this more organized fun are all sorts of spontaneous nights, from a two-hour conversation on the hallway floor with your neighbor to a one-hour drive to Skyzone Trampoline Park in Sioux City to a full night at the Fruited Plain Coffee Shop in town. With so much life happening, there simply isn’t any time for idle boredom!
As a freshman, I was overwhelmed with all the fun available to me. I stayed up so late and turned my wheels so hard, always participating in some campus activity or adventuring with a campus friend. I'd never been so stimulated in my life, always awake and always alive and always aware of all I was learning in the process. This type of busyness was invigorating.
As a sophomore and as an RA, I’m equally stimulated. However, being on the other side of the spectrum, planning the fun in addition to participating in it, has changed the way I see campus life. I now understand that all the fun we have serves a purpose greater than entertainment: it draws us closer to each other and, in turn, closer to God. I know that sounds super cheesy, but bear with me a little longer.
Each campus event is geared towards building a community of people that enjoy being with each other, that laugh together and learn together and live together as the Church should. 1 John 4:12 has been one of my favorite verses since moving into the dorms: “No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.” In enjoying the people I do life with, I’m also enjoying God. His love is prevalent in their love of me, and He is using me to love others in the same fashion.
So, here are some examples of purposeful fun that I’ve planned for my residents – who are really just my friends – this school year.
First, you should know that I own the moon from High School Musical. Yep. The real, authentic prop? That’s mine. It’s the focal point of our wing decorations, it's a tourist spot for campus visitors, and it's associated mantra - "We're all in this together." - has shaped our wing dynamic. In fact, that's the quote on the back of our wing t-shirts. Appropriately, we all designed those together, doodling on a piece of paper taped to the bathroom door until we had a final design that synthesized all our ideas into something we're all proud to wear.
Speaking of High School Musical, some friends and I dressed up as the entire crew for SAC’s Halloween dance last semester. As you may have guessed from the caliber of our costumes, we won the large-group category of the costume contest – and devoured all the assorted candy that was our prize!
And since we're still talking about High School Musical, a bunch of us girls that live in Covenant and West Halls reserved SB1606 (one of our biggest, nicest lecture halls) for the Wednesday night that marked ten years since HSM's first television premier. And as the movie began and our nostalgia soared, so did our voices. I'm so grateful to be in a place with people that love HSM sing-alongs as much as I do.
We've done a couple of other wing events this year that involved singing and dancing. In October, for example, I had a bunch of leftover glow sticks from a nighttime sardines event (pictured on the far left below). So, a few days later, we had a Jammin' in our Jammies wing event. From 11:00-midnight, as girls were getting ready for bed, our bathroom became Club 3N. Music blaring, glowstick wearing, colored lights strobing, and girls dancing -- it was a blast. I also go to Zumba at a local dance studio with any residents that express interest, and a few wings in Covenant combined for Hairbrush Karaoke last week.
And Zumba isn't the only activity we do together off-campus. The All Season's Center, which is right across the street from Covenant Hall, offers its services for free to Dordt students. Before Iowa was transformed into Antarctica, we used their sand volleyball courts frequently, even playing in the rain. Now that it's colder, ice-skating is more appropriate. We also use Walmart as a resource for fun, playing hide-and-go-seek between the aisles or spending $20 on adult-sized onesies to lounge around Covenant lobby basking in how grown-up we are.
And after we play hard, we have to replenish those lost calories. So we eat. A lot. I've found that food wing events are always the most well attended -- who would'a thought? At the beginning of the schoolyear, I made tye-dye cupcakes to celebrate the summer birthdays we missed out on. Almost weekly, I have somebody in my room for a tea-time life chat. In October, we paired with our brother wing and walked to the local taco truck, an event affectionately termed Awko Walko Taco. When the stress of finals set in last December, we ate muffins and worked on a Toy Story 3 coloring book as a de-stressing wing event. And when all else fails, popcorn and The Princess Diaries suffices.
But not everything we do as a wing is planned. Pranks, for example, are always appropriate forms of spontaneous fun. One of my residents scattered her senior photo all over the hallway, putting her face on top of everyone else's door tags. This same resident and her roommate put photos of themselves under my roommate's and my pillows that we would see their lovely faces right before we fell asleep. While I was on duty one night, two boys were wandering around the halls in a cow costume mooing at anyone who tried to approach them. And, as a wing, we have a Chucky-like doll that gets passed from room to room, always in obscure and creepy locations. So whenever I hear a short scream of terror, I know someone has found their Chucky surprise.
In addition to random events, we also have a consistent, weekly Bible study as a wing. It's super low pressure; we simply gather in my room every Sunday night, read a chapter aloud, talk about what stuck out to us in the reading, and pray for each other before heading to all-campus worship. We're able to be silly together, but we're also able to be serious, sharing our thoughts and our struggles and our prayers. In fact, I'd argue that the silliness of wing events helps lay the foundation for such fruitful Bible studies. When you live in such close quarters with people, you share all of who you are - the silly and the serious - with them. It's really good stuff.
And tonight? We're doing Ties and Guys. Some of the single boys on our brother wing have given their RA one of their favorite ties. The guy RA then gives those ties to me, and I lay them out in the hallway for my single ladies to come snag , as they'll be paired up with the guy who owns the tie on our large-group blind date to Dordt's game room. Wish us luck!