As I am writing this post, I am sitting in my very first dorm room, at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, MN. I am spending three days & two nights at Yearbook Camp, hosted by Jostens.
I’ve never attended a 4‑year college, and what college’s I have been apart of were St. Paul Technical College (now just St. Paul College) and The Art Institute of Pittsburgh: Online Division. So I never got to experience campus life like this.
It’s different and kinda cool. Walking from my dorm to the dining hall and various lecture halls across the campus (while carrying various books, laptop, etc.–and making so many stops back in my room because I don’t want to carry everything with me all day) has been interesting.
So why am I here at a college campus? For Yearbook Camp! I am here with a fellow advisor (and a fantastic friend) and 5 middle school girls so that they and us can learn more about our yearbook program, create a theme for next years book, and find ways to build the excitement about yearbook in our school to encourage more resources (photos, people and stories) and sales.
The first day we left at 7–7:30am all packed into my van and drove down to the campus. We checked in (girls in one dorm, and me–the only boy in our group–in another). We got our room keys, our materials, etc.
We then immediately headed to our first lecture: Welcome and General Session. The keynote speaker, Brett Webber, was from California (but originally from South Africa) and very interesting to listen to. He had a great accent and interesting stories.
We then had a small group meeting with our rep and other schools that also use our rep. As well as staff work time, lunch and then more general sessions. The advisors then got to meet with each other and share tips, whielle the girls were on a scavanger hunt.
It was then time for dinner and then specialty sessions. The other advisor and I went to “Developing a Theme” (were we actually just worked creating visuals of the theme our students came up with) while the lecturer talked (shhh, don’t tell anyone) and our girls went to either “Design Trends” or “Yearbook Cover Trends”, where they picked up little ideas to add to our overall theme design. Mikayla kept texting me ideas she was getting during her lecture.
The girls then had a dance in the student union, while us advisors got some quiet time in our rooms before lights out at 11:30.
Breakfast started at 7:30 and then it was another general session (on graphic design) and then lots of staff work time, more specialty sessions (where we sent the girls to learn about how to use Josten’s online software) and the other advisor and I went to our rooms to just chill out and relax. I worked on taking our cover design and setting it to the Jostens template I had just received via email that morning. Our cover was pretty much done and set!
We then met the girls for lunch and then after that, the Girls went to either “Quick Reads and Infographics” or more online training, and the advisor and I took “The Sell Menu” where we learned more about the actual selling features of the online program. (Which, we were very tired and that made the whole thing a bit boring. But at this point, we got to hide out from the girls, so we didn’t mind too much…and it was air conditioned.)
We then had a lot of time to work with our staff. But we were so on the ball, that we had just about everything mostly done for our presentation on Thursday. So we let the girls just explore the campus, or chill in their rooms, while the advisor and I took a much needed nap. (At this point it was very hot outside, and my left foot was killing me to walk on. It also didn’t help that I was up at 3:30 am, since I just couldn’t get back to sleep.)
So I napped, and slept right through my alarms for dinner. Which was okay (other than freaking out the girls that I was missing dinner) because, with my foot, I really didn’t want to walk all that way.
After Dinner, the girls wanted to go swimming, but the advisor and I really needed to get together and sit down and prepare for the presentation on Friday. So we hid out in the rec room of the boys dorm (since the girls wouldn’t be able to bug us there) and got work done!
It was then time for our advisor reception, were the advisors were able to kick back, have a few “beverages” and just get to know each other and make some new friends and get some ideas and play some games and load up on sample books to take home. Oh and eat fancy snacks!)
During the reception, Mikayla texted me that she had a small accident with a door and her toenail. Another advisor that was still in the dorm, helped her bandage up and get everything taken care of. She gave me a play-by-play every minute. She was a real trooper and her natural Girl Scout abilities kicked in and she remained pretty calm. I was so proud of her.
Then it was back to our rooms for rest and lights out.
Breakfast started at 7 am! Even earlier than the day before! After breakfast we had another general session on Photography, then our presentations with our small rep-groups where the girls had to present our theme to the small group. (Our rep group had 5 schools: Blaine, Coon Rapids, Mounds Park Academy, Centennial HS and us, the Middle school) and each school got two votes for the best theme concept and execution. The girls did really well and the four other schools had amazing presentations! Then a closing session on “Making it Personal”.
After all that, they had some closing announcements and announced the grand prize winners from each Rep. group. Each rep group Our girls won from our region! Not only was it the first time that Jostens had middle school students (not counting advisors) but the girls had won as voted on by their peers. They (and us) were so excited and surprised. They won $500 to use towards extra features in the yearbook for next year. We decided end sheets would really complete our cover and theme.
We then got our boxed lunches and then back to our rooms to pack and turn in our keys. Then we were on the road to go home!
It was a fabulous experience and I learned so much (like making sure that my “comfortable shoes” really are comfortable) and that, all in all, the girls behaved themselves pretty well.
It was nice to know that really, Jostens handles everything. Literally. As advisors, we aren’t really in charge of our girls (except for emergencies), Jostens keeps them occupied and watched over, that we can sit back and focus on the ideas they are presenting, and do some of our own learning.
It was also great being able to hang out with my fellow advisor. Carrie is a fantastic friend and we have so much in common. The whole time we kept commenting on how much we were alike (we were practically even having the same thoughts).
I am lucky to be working with a phenomenal individual like her!