The expert advice to answer your most pressing questions. This month, Caitriona Taylor, director of campus recreation at Boston College, shares advice on preparing for a new school year.
How do you prepare the recreation center for the fall semester?
CT: We close the facility after the spring semester for two days to do an end-of-the-year cleaning and turn over for summer. Then again in August we will close for two days to a week, prior to the students coming back. During this time, we will swap out equipment, change over some spaces, redo surfaces, etc. August is a slow time when our members have left and people are on vacation, so we need to close to do some maintenance to get ready for the onslaught of students that will return once school starts.
What preparation takes place in terms of staff training?
CT: We do an all-staff training the week before school starts. We will do training all together that day and have an activity that night. Then a few days before school starts, each department will do their own trainings, CPR classes, etc. We have about 400 students who work for us throughout the year, so we will have about 200 to 300 people attend that training.
When the fall semester starts, what type of marketing or events are held to get students into the recreation center?
CT: We have a ton of events. There is a welcome week for students, so we do a fair where we show off all of our club sports. Each club will have a table at the fair, and then our programmers will have an area as well. The graduate students also have an orientation day, and we will work with them on that. Boston College is a heavy residential campus. Most students live on campus, so we have welcome packets on everyone’s bed when they arrive, and we will have a flyer in there. There is freshman orientation throughout the summer, and all the freshman will come into the facility for events throughout orientation. We will give all of them t-shirts that have our web address on it. We are constantly trying to reach out to our students.
What advice would you give to other recreation professionals when it comes to getting ready for the fall semester?
CT: You need to plan about a year in advance. It is really important to do your staff trainings before the start of school. A few years ago we were doing our trainings right after the start of school on a Sunday. It was really hard to close on a Sunday afternoon for a few hours, just to do the training then. So I highly recommend doing an all-staff training prior to the start of school, but you are going to have to get that on students’ calendars as soon as possible. Each year when our training wraps up, we are already picking the next date. The same on the facility side. We know we are always closed that week in August and we plan a year out what we are going to do that week so we can make sure we have all the vendors and suppliers lined up. For example, our equipment order has to be delivered on those days, so we are placing those orders months in advance.