The word “participation” is one with which everyone in campus recreation can associate. No matter what division of campus recreation is discussed, one of the main (if not THE main) concerns is getting your campus community involved in the programming your department has to offer. Directors and coordinators are always looking for that newest trend or twist to an old idea that will spur interest and engagement from new individuals, and continued participation from established users.
Intramural sports and activities are no different. As a director, I am constantly faced with finding out where the interests lie concerning our community, and what I can do, or with whom I can collaborate in order to bring these activities to life on our campus. There are many options that intramural programs can utilize in order to increase participation and awareness on campuses, and one of the most simple and effective are flash events.
“Flash events” are derived from the phenomenon “flash mobs”, when people suddenly congregate at a specific time and place to perform a specific activity, such as a dance or a picture opportunity. Flash events can be a great way to produce a spark of excitement and increase visibility for intramural programming on campus, often times introducing your intramural program to many students. Just like any other program, though, these events require careful planning and execution in order to be successful.
Are you considering an intramural flash event? Take these points into account:
- The activity itself
What activity are you thinking of doing? Activities should be easy to put together, and take a minimal amount of time to explain or play. A complex activity that requires in-depth participation, time, or setup might deter your community from participating. The activity should have a welcoming feel and an easy drop-in procedure.
- Timing is everything
Do your research and find the best times and dates to have the event. Many institutions have specific timetables where classes all end at the same time, thus releasing giant amounts of students onto campus. Maybe you can piggyback off of another event, or take advantage of the weather for that day. The event itself should also have that temporary feel, to have that sense of urgency to participate. Anywhere from one to two hours usually gets the best results.
- Location, location, location
Find the location that not only best suits the activity, but also gives you maximum exposure to the campus community. Is there a campus center or high-traffic open area that can host your event?
- Get your permissions
Make sure you get all permissions to have the flash event. You may have to pass your idea through risk management, as well as talk to your reservation office about facility/space usage. Plan ahead and go through the proper channels.
- Get your carnival barkers out there
If you have high-energy, outgoing staff members, this is a great opportunity to use them! They can work a crowd and draw attention to the scene. Having positive personnel around the event improves your chances of getting people to participate. Likewise, once the event begins, you can use your social media (if you have it) to call attention to it and get an even bigger interest going.
- Prizes, flyers and more
The typical community loves free items and prizes. Perhaps you have a few to give for the winners or participants of your event? This is also a great time to bring your program to the forefront of attention with flyers/digital presentation for future intramural events, maybe even recruit workers and officials.
Using the flash event can boost your intramural programming by offering a spontaneous and entertaining way of engaging your community into wellness activities, and inspiring individuals to participate in even more activities on campus. Have you used flash events for your program? Comment in the section below and share your ideas!
If you want to learn more about flash mobs, listen to this fun story from NPR.