Why You Need to Build Community


Yesterday, I found out a friend has been struggling with his recent move to Texas.

He’s been living in Dallas for about four months and is back home for the holidays. I found him at the gym yesterday, and we caught up. That’s when he told me after his year-long lease was up, he wanted to head back to Louisville, Kentucky.

I couldn’t help but be slightly dismayed at his announcement. He has only been there four months after all. As I proceeded to share with him my own experience of moving away from one life and into another, it made me reflect on the many beautiful things that have occured over the past 3.5 years.

However, I wasn’t always peachy-keen about living in the Bluegrass State. When I first moved to Kentucky, I wanted out in a year’s time. Even nine months in I was itching to leave. But as time progressed, two things happened: I fell in love with my job and I built a strong community. Slowly, all of these items fell into place and I started to leave loneliness behind. Now, 3.5 years later I don’t foresee me moving anytime soon – but life is funny so who knows?

The lesson though is this: Community is essential. It is so important and necessary. It wasn’t until I found community and a family that Louisville really became my home.

So, how does this apply to your rec center?

Well, you have students who are doing just what I did 3.5 years ago – many are moving to a new place without knowing a soul. Maybe they have a friend. Maybe they are commuting. But even so, they are still seeking community and family.

And as rec centers have grown over the years, they have become more than just a place to lift weights. They are hubs of campus life, places for wellness. So why not wellness in community as well? Why not fulfill that need of your students?

With that said, are you putting on events, encouraging student staff to connect or promoting environments conducive to making friends? What are you doing to build community in your rec center?

Community can keep your students coming back for more – education, fitness and life lessons. It is a powerful tool your rec center should use. I look forward to hearing how you’re accomplishing building it within your four walls.

Heather Hartmann is the editor for Campus Rec Magazine. She can be reached at heather@peakemedia.com.

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