Before final exams start each semester at East Carolina University, students are given a “Reading Day,” or a day between the last day of classes and before finals start, meant for students to study for the tests.
This spring, the ECU Campus Recreation Department instead hosted their fifth annual Day of Play, complete with nutritious snacks for studying, flavored water and smoothies and puppies. “It’s evolved over the years,” said Georgia Childs, the associate director of campus recreation and wellness. “But the whole premise is come, chill out, relax, have a healthy snack, don’t think about exams. That’s the big thing.”
But it’s not all play. The recreation department also partners with the academic department and counseling center to provide students with study and exam tips. Childs said each year, she’s seen the stress students feel get exponentially greater, and The Day of Play is meant to calm them down before tests and provide tips for final exam success.
The event is twofold. In addition to helping students succeed for final exams, student interns of the campus recreation center also plan the event. Not only is this a great resume booster for the student interns, but Child’s said it helps prepare them for life post-graduation. “With us, internships are not menial tasks at all. I know some interns who do that. But they are active in program planning, implementation and assessment,” said Childs. “We like it like that, because it’s a win-win situation for us and for them.”
Campus Recreation interns have a choice in what event they plan, as a part of their “major project.” Childs explained some choose to plan something in the beginning of the semester, however that doesn’t allow them much time to plan, and some choose an event later in the semester, like the Day of Play. “From an educational standpoint, internships have always been my mindset. I don’t want an intern to come in and just answer phones and make copies all the time. They need practical experience,” said Childs.
Childs explained the campus recreation department utilizes a program called Student Leadership Development Framework to ensure they are teaching interns practical skills and leadership qualities. And past interns have helped them come up with the competence of the program.
“We are not only teaching them the practical skills of physically running an intramural program or wellness program, but we are also teaching them leadership skills based around leadership competencies that folks in the workforce, these are competencies that they want students to have when they graduate from college,” Childs explained. “We’re trying to educate members of society.”
She explained the campus recreation department is student-focused, using the Day of Play to allow student interns to gain experience and general students a break before final exams.