With the number of vaccination opportunities rising and number of deaths dropping, we can all start to see the light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel. Many campus recreation directors and club presidents I have spoken to are planning to hit the ground running in the fall, but I'm wondering what long lasting impacts this year long pandemic will have on campus recreation departments nation wide. Here are a few ways campus recreation can engage students in a safe way this semester and a look ahead to what the campus recreation landscape could look like in post-pandemic life.
Outdoor Activities - We all know COVID-19 transmission is less likely in the fresh air, and with the weather getting warmer now is the time for campus recreation departments to stock up on all things outdoor! Boston College offers day-long excursions to local hiking trails and caves for those students looking for a break from campus. Over 400 schools have club golf teams, golf is an outdoor and socially distant sport in nature. The NCCGA offers weekend golf tournament to all college students regardless of skill level. Having a surplus of outdoor games will also entice students to socialize with others while staying safe. Fresh air can go a long way when it comes to health and wellness, stock up on the best outdoor games for college students.
Zoom - Zoom U has become a very popular phrase when referencing college activities this past year. While Zoom and other video live stream services have seen a dramatic spike in usage, that doesn't necessarily mean it is fun or entertaining. Purdue University is making Zoom fun again by teaching cooking lessons for students spending more time inside the home and virtual escape rooms for the students missing out on the excitement of engaging with classmates. East Carolina University us using professional sports to keep students engaged with weekly NFL pick-em games for prizes. campus recreation departments need to continue to engage students in a fun and exciting way that makes students feel like they aren't logging on for another class.
The Future of Campus Rec - I as much as anyone am looking forward to returning to some sort of "normalcy" soon but how will COVID-19 change campus recreation departments for years to come? This pandemic, more than anything, highlighted the need for students to stay safe and healthy while also feeling connected and engaged with peers. Online engagement will not be as prevalent when people no longer have to quarantine but it will never fully disappear. Keeping some online classes or engagements for students will be crucial in the transition from pandemic to post-pandemic campus life. General operations of physical recreation departments will also not return to "normal" right away. Decreases in class size, more time for cleaning, less shared equipment, are all small ways in which campus rec departments will forever be changed.
Looking for ways to get your students involved in outdoor activities now? Check out the National Collegiate Club Golf Association!