My first Dorm Room.

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.

Day 1:

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.

Gen­er­al Session

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.

Day 2:

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.

Day 3:

Mikay­la and her bestie at gen­er­al session.

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!

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