Every college student group out there, regardless of size, has unique group dynamics that allow it to work a certain way. It goes without saying that every leader- in this case the president or advisor of the organization- has different ways of vocalizing the meaning behind the organizations and what goals are expected to be accomplished. Many groups and clubs at Rutgers host a plethora of events, and we have been subject to this by means of Facebook event invitations. How many times have you clicked ‘maybe’ and never shown up?
In an effort to strengthen groups that are in the storming stage in the overall development, I have proposed a schedule (although I wouldn’t use that word exactly) for a retreat to bring the group closer and to eventually help it learn how to thrive overall. I believe that the retreat is a necessary element in helping understand why the group is together in the first place. People will not feel like they are so detached from the group after attending a retreat. They will also hopefully find this to be a valuable learning experience that will be used to make the group back at school stay focused on the goals and create programs that have great turnouts.
Day 1: The first day of the retreat would introduce the retreat itself and outline the activities. After all, people need to be reminded of why they’re there in the first place. This day would also be dedicated to get to know each person on the retreat a whole lot better. I would say that team building is the crux of any retreat, and ice breakers are more than essential to get to know people in a group better. This day, I would propose The Name Tag Game. For this to work, everyone needs to wear a name tag with their own names on it (if it weren’t obvious enough). People would pair up and start exchanging 3 facts about each other. After exchanging those facts, they would swap name tags, so they wouldn’t have their own name tags. This whole process repeats with another person from the group, but the name on the name tag is what’s important: you have to repeat the facts of the person whose name is on your name tag. This is also an exercise that tests your memory (and maybe how well you can remember things in general). Getting to know people this way will be the first step in establishing trust, which is such a key component in a college student organization.
Day 2: This day would be spent on actual group dynamics and it would focus on things such as knowing how to communicate better within a group. The main activity for this day would, naturally, include every member of the group to congregate and discuss a survival scenario. This works by presenting the group with a fictional situation (but could happen in real life) for which it would have to implement real life action. The situation is that a plane just crashed into the ocean. The lifeboat has room for every person plus 12 items total they will need in order to survive on the island. It is up to the group to decide which 12 items will make it to the island. There is no time limit on this activity, just as long as people come to a final consensus on those 12 items.
People have seen how deteriorating lack of communication can be for a group. Size is not to be considered on how much communication should count. The process of storming thrives on the idea that communication is key. Don’t get me wrong, the retreat is just as important. Both make for a stronger and more cohesive group. Any effective advisor, leader or president would agree.