When you think of your environmental club, your first thought is most likely about meetings, initiatives, and working to make your campus a more sustainable place. But like any other group or team, it’s important for everyone to feel comfortable voicing their opinions and working together. That’s where fostering a sense of community within your club becomes key. Initiatives and projects run much smoother when the whole club feels a sense of connection not just to the cause your working towards but to each other.
It’s the friendships and sense of community that keep club members coming back and staying involved even as the semester gets busier and busier. Club meetings become more than just another meeting in the day, they are a place to have fun with your friends and do good at the same time. This is absolutely the case for me at school, where my club LEAP, Lafayette Environmental Awareness and Protection, has become my best friends on campus. This is largely in part because our board members prioritized making connections and having the club be a fun social place as well.
So how exactly did they do that? Every club meeting starts with some kind of icebreaker or other game for people to talk and get to know each other before getting down to business. In these 5 or 10 minute exercises, we were always encouraged to talk to someone new and make sure everyone was included. Another key thing LEAP does in terms of building community is getting together beyond weekly club meetings. My favorite is our tradition of getting dinner together after our weekly meeting. It’s a time to catch up and enjoy each other’s company beyond just environmental club business. We also hold fun activities throughout the semester, sometimes involving environmental topics, such as touring a local farm or having a picnic on the quad. These opportunities to get close to other club members not only helps projects run much more smoothly (it’s more fun to work with friends!) but gives members encouragement to continually stay involved.