At the beginning of each year, the University of West Florida’s Campus Recreation hosts an annual Beach Bash event as part of their Argo Arrival event. Argo Arrival is a series of events to welcome new students to the university and give the returning students a chance to make new connections.
With UWF being located 20 miles from Pensacola Beach, there is no better location for a party than on the beach. A DJ plays music while students participate in activities such as beach volleyball, Spikeball, kayaking and more.
Bill Healey, Director of Recreation, at West Florida said the event is really just a way for the school to welcome their new and returning students. “We just want to engage freshman with the rest of our university,” said Healey. “We load up a bus in the morning with a little under 300 students, and a couple hundred more students drive to the beach and meet us there. We get box lunches from Firehouse Subs and the students can play bocce ball, disk golf and a ton of other activities. Fraternities and sororities will come and set up tents just to hang out and meet the new students as well.”
Marketing is vital when it comes to large scale events like UWF’s Beach Bash in order to generate revenue. Healey explained that having a marketing team has really helped promote not only their Beach Bash, but their entire Argo Arrival as well.
“We have a marketer in student activities who completely controls everything in terms of these events,” said Healey. “We do everything from hang door tags, post posters around campus, hand out business-style cards and even put up real-estate type signs in the grass. This stuff really gets the word out. There’s hardly a student that doesn’t know what’s going on.”
Events like this can be held at any school if enough initiative is taken by people within the rec center. According to Healey, the most important aspect to these large scaled events is planning. “In any event, the key is starting early,” explained Healey. “In terms of our Beach Bash, we are required to have a permit for the usage of the beach, which we get for the next year as soon as the current year’s event is over. We try to get all the bigger issues taken care of early.”
Due to the multitude of outside vendors, communication is key between the various volunteers to ensure that everything runs smoothly and accurately. “We have a volunteer coordinator who makes sure everything is going the way it should,” added Healey. “The biggest deal is making sure everyone realizes we have to depend on each other to get things done. Some students that are volunteers wait on the buses to give out t-shirts and wristbands before everyone gets to the beach.”
Your school may not be located on a beach, but events like this can happen everywhere with proper planning, marketing and a team willing to work together to provide successful events for the student population.