The guests are invited. The cake is baked. The candles are lit. It’s birthday party time! That magical time that comes around once every year, when your friends and family share with you how much they love and appreciate you. It’s the one day where you, or at least you should, get to choose what it is that you do. And just like your birthday, the summertime is a great opportunity for you to choose what it is that you program and try out a few atypical things in your area.
With most students returning home for the summer, it is during this time that we are able to get to know our few participants better and, like our birthday party guests, try to cater the programming to what they want. This year, at the University of Michigan, we heard a great call for sports requiring fewer team members because of how few people were around. We responded by changing our calendar to offer eight different sports, with softball being the only one that required more than four players.
Birthday presents seem to sadly get fewer and fewer as we get older, but they also seem to get more meaningful. With the fewer participants, we have been able to have some fantastic, meaningful conversations with them to see what it is that our program does well and what could be improved upon. We have taken the time to do some qualitative questionnaires and will also be doing some quantitative surveying. While not nearly as exciting as a new pair of socks (thanks grandma!), these survey presents provide us with valuable, necessary information to be able to tell our story to the department and university.
I recently celebrated my birthday and attempted to spend it in a quaint, little river town near Toledo, OH, only to find out that the town decided to apparently get together and close seven of the nine stores that make up the downtown area. Not getting discouraged, my best friend and I had to adapt to the day and figure out what options were still available to us. As weather likes so often to cancel or delay summertime, it gives us the opportunity to put our student supervisors in situations to make decisions that they have been trained to do and put our rescheduling hats that we love to wear so much.