(Photo: Gonzaga University Dance Marathon)
Ready or not, the time has come to return to campus and get things started for the new academic year! While you’re settling back into campus and getting classes started, we know what you’re all thinking…
“Let’s get Dance Marathon planning started!”
The beginning of the school year is a great time to reunite with your executive board, think about your goals for the year, and start planning for your upcoming events. Whether you’ve got an event coming up in a few months or you’re planning ahead for your spring event, consider including some of the following into your retreat agenda:
1. Team Building Activities
A retreat is never complete without an opportunity for your team to work through some kind of activity and process it all together. Think about where your team is in your process, whether just coming together and getting to know each other or coming back after a busy summer working full steam ahead before your approaching event, and think about what the team needs to be successful. There are tons of ideas out there for activities that can help address what your team needs most.
The True Colors Personality Assessment is a great way to learn more about the members of your team, your strengths as leaders, and how you can bring those strengths together.
This Communication Chain Activity helps teams understand the importance of communicating with their team members and setting clear expectations.
Check out this resource for teambuilding activities from the North American Interfraternity Conference.
This Epic List of Great Team Building Activities has a wide assortment of ideas for whatever your team may need.
2. Cause Connection
It’s always great to remind your team why we do what we do—For The Kids! Retreats are a great opportunity talk about our cause and get motivated for the year, which you could do by:
Setting up a hospital tour with your board members
Having a Miracle family come to your retreat to share their story or join your team for a meal
Having a Miracle family video chat with your team
Sharing a video of a Miracle kid’s story
3. Review of Previous Year
In order to plan for the year ahead, it can be very helpful to review last year in order to build on previous successes and learn from opportunities for improvement.
Try conducting a SWOT Analysis with your team to review your organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
Or you could try a SOAR Analysis, which focuses on aspirations and results, building on your organization’s strengths and setting metrics for moving forward.
4. Set Goals for the Year
Think about your themes from the year and review your organization’s mission statement. If you don’t have one, think about coming up with one. If you can narrow down your focus to a few key themes, it can help you with decision-making throughout the year. Anytime you’re brainstorming ideas, you can check those ideas against your main objectives.
Once you’ve reviewed your organization’s mission and your overall themes for the year, have your individual board members set some goals for their role. And make sure they’re S.M.A.R.T. Goals!
After they’ve had some time to think about their individual positions, you can bring the board members together into their teams (Internal, External, etc.) or small groups and have them review their goals together. If they review their goals with their team, they will be able to talk through opportunities to collaborate with each other and not duplicate efforts.
5. Calendar Planning
Write out each of the months from now through the next 12 months (even after your event) on a chalkboard or large poster paper. Then, have all of your board members take post-it notes and write their tasks/events/major projects on different post-it notes (you could even do different colors for each team) and stick them on the board under the appropriate month. This should give you a good sense of which months are overloaded, which months may need some additional programming, and where there are opportunities for collaboration within your team. It will also help your team know what each of the other team members are doing and how they might need to be supportive. For example, if your Events Director says that he wants to plan a fundraiser on campus in November, your Public Relations Director will need to think about what that means in terms of promotion leading up to that event and how that affects her calendar.
6. Extra Ideas
Depending on how much time you have for your retreat, you could consider adding some of the following activities:
Discuss Communication Expectations – it’s always helpful to talk through expectations for your team and make sure that everyone mutually agrees to them. What are expectations for meeting attendance? What expectations do you have for the time frame that someone should respond to an e-mail? What methods of communication will your team use? It’s worth having this conversation now so that you can hold everyone accountable to these expectations down the road.
Building your Dance Marathon Pitch – it could be helpful to spend some time allowing everyone on the team to prepare and practice their pitch or “elevator speech” for how they talk about Dance Marathon with other people, whether it be corporate partners, students they’re recruiting, administrators on campus, etc.
How to Lead a Committee/Delegation Skills – if your executive board will be overseeing a team or committee of peers, it’s good to make sure they know how to do that. For some of your team members, this could be their first major leadership role so it is always a good idea to review skills for how to lead others, how to delegate tasks, how to facilitate a productive meeting, and so on. When you recruit enthusiastic new committee members, you don’t want to lose them because they’re not being utilized effectively.
Why Do You Dance? Go around your team and have everyone share their “why” and the reason they got involved in Dance Marathon. This can be a great closing activity and helps everyone else understand why we’re all here.
TED Talks – these are always great conversation starters and can be beneficial to get your board thinking about different ideas. Here are some of our favorites:
7. Use Your Resources
As always, it’s a great idea to use your resources. Reach out to your Miracle Network Dance Marathon Regional Manager and talk through your retreat plans with them. Work with a your hospital advisor and university advisor to get them involved. Think about different departments on campus and see how they can help, whether it’s sharing resources or facilitating activities. There are plenty of people who are ready and willing to help make your retreat, and your year ahead successful.