As the weather turns nice and Dream Project mentors start working with the new cohort of 11th grade students, we all become excited for one thing: Spring BBQ. With some warm sunshine, good food, and a strong team of committee leads, this year’s event was hugely successful and the best Spring BBQ has ever been!
Often times, people ask, “What goes behind planning a big event like Spring BBQ?” With a dedicated team of 12 creative, hardworking student leaders, Spring BBQ 2014 was well thought out and planned, complete with weekly meetings set months in advance and extra time spent working away the night before. Although meetings often went over the allotted time, people stayed to work on getting their action items completed and making sure they were on track to achieve their weekly goals, which was really impressive! Even more impressive was the work done by the Event Coordinator, Alyssa Hatsukami, and the two event leads, Danny Stack and Megan Whitman. This trio was exceptional in how supportive they were, often providing thoughtful feedback and encouragement to committee leads when they weren’t sure how to proceed. Their wacky attitude, personality, and humor brought a fun vibe to meetings that helped keep a certain aura of calm, no matter how intense a meeting could get.
“It was really exciting to collaborate with so many people working towards a common goal. The preparation that has gone into Spring BBQ has improved greatly over the years and when it came to the day of the event, it seemed almost foolproof. Although things were at times chaotic, they were a good chaotic. Everyone had an awesome attitude and we had a great time!”
- Danny Stack, Event Lead
“Knowing what a milestone it was for me in my experience as High School Lead in last year’s Spring BBQ, when I became one of the event leads for Spring BBQ this year, my main goal was to ensure that all involved could look back as fondly on their experience as I did my first year. So on the day of the event I just tried to make sure everything ran smoothly so that everyone could enjoy their day!”
- Megan Whitman, Event Lead
In addition, the success of the event may also be attributed to the many facets of support the committee leads had; with a strong Dream Team of 400 mentors behind them, campus partners, faculty, friends of the Dream Project, and Dream Project’s staff members to help out, the committee leads were able to accomplish everything they had set out to do. However, one unique factor about this support was having not only one, but TWO past Spring BBQ Event Leads support the event this year.
Amrita Heer, the Dream Project’s Program Support Coordinator, was one of the Event Leads for Spring BBQ 2012 and I was one of the Event Leads for Spring BBQ 2013. As Amrita and I reflected on this year’s event, it was really interesting to see the changes that have happened over the past couple of years, which have all contributed to the success of the event now. In Amrita’s year, the event was held on the Rainier Vista lawn and was the first year we used a large tent. In previous years before 2012, the Spring BBQ had been held in the Don James Center at the UW, and the movement to a tent was an awesome decision that made the event more like an outdoor BBQ celebration! In my year, it was the first time we had held the Spring BBQ in the Quad, which was a more central location on campus that gave mentees an even better opportunity to truly experience “the day in the life of a college student.” With UW students lounging in the grass near the tent and hundreds of people walking through the Quad going to classes in nearby buildings, mentees were able to see what a college campus was truly like. Furthermore, this was the first year we shared the cost of the tent rental with the UW College of Education, which had a fun “Education Day on the Quad” event the day before. This was not only a financially wise decision for the Dream Project, but also allowed us to further strengthen our relationship with the College of Education and find new ways to support each other. Despite going through these significant changes over the past two years, this year’s committee leads continued to persevere and find ways to make this year’s event better. One big highlight of this year’s event was that it was the first time we assigned mentors to be tour guides and stay with groups of students throughout the whole event, which helped create a smoother process and experience for mentees. This minimized the risk of losing mentees and allowed mentors to build a better relationship with their students.
As this year’s Spring BBQ comes to a close and we start thinking about our next event, I can’t help but think about how awesome it was to work with all of the committee leads. Each and every one of them held their weight, did their job well, and went above and beyond to create an incredible experience for both mentors and mentees. One of the greatest pieces of feedback we received was from a school counselor: “I was talking to Dylan today and asked him about the field trip. He said it made him want to go to college!” At the end of the day, it’s comments like these that make us feel like we truly made a difference in a mentee’s life. I can’t wait to see how next year’s Spring BBQ turns out!