Each summer, Saint Paul School of Theology hosts approximately 150-200 Course of Study students. Students arrive from the Midwest, the Dakotas, Michigan, Wisconsin, and other states and then drive back to their parishes at the end of the week. Our challenge—to build community amidst commuter students.
Our solution hearkens back to ideas used historically at family reunions.
Saint Paul held an ice cream social and “optional” talent show. The participation varied greatly with the dynamics of each weekly group. The first week and third weeks had a variety of participants sign up. The second week preferred to visit while they ate their ice cream.
The Course of Study students proudly danced, sang, and played instruments ranging from a pocket harmonica to a red accordion. Some told stories, danced and another told a string of jokes. One group did animal noises with loud applause –especially for the turkey call. The most interactive event was when one student asked the audience to participate in learning Taekwondo moves. The second-career COS students laughed as they kicked and punched through the air.
Students left the room more energized that when they arrived. Laughter, talking, and congratulatory remarks filled the air. This ice-breaking event at the beginning of the week, helped others get to know each other more quickly. It was a time to turn off their phones and appreciate the varied gifts God had given them.