In southeastern Wisconsin we have a traditional New Student Outreach (NSO) event involving a picnic and a Milwaukee Brewer baseball game. On a Saturday in September, when the Brewers are playing at home, we have a full day of activities at Jackson Park, which is just down the street from the stadium.
Students from chapters at a number of schools, from as far away as Green Bay, attend the picnic. By traveling to an event such as this, new students have a whole day to form friendships with other chapter members. This event provides more quality time together than many other NSO events that we do, such as signing up at an organization fair, getting root beer floats at an Unkegger, or playing in an ultimate disc tournament.
This year we had 150 students come and participate in competitions between chapters, such as a relay race, and lots of crazy games. To win the game competitions, students had to figure out a series of riddles, catch chocolate covered marshmallows, or get the most cotton swabs to stick to a person covered in tape (hard to describe without being there).
IVP Books Are Popular
There is a traveling trophy for the chapter that wins. After the trophy is awarded there is a cookout, followed by a raffle of InterVarsity Press books.
Seven years ago we started inviting Brewer players from the team Bible study to come and speak. Their participation is one of the biggest draws and the most exciting aspect of the day. Marcus Hanel and Bradon Looper spoke this year, sharing testimonies and answering questions about life as a professional ballplayer. Then they signed autographs.
I presented Bradon Looper with a copy of the hefty IVP reference book, Hard Sayings of the Bible. Bradon said it would be the biggest book in his collection.
Baseball Wraps it Up
After the picnic it’s time for baseball. We have our own section in Miller Park to hang out and watch the game. Each year at least one of our chapters is successful at bringing some international students to enjoy their first experience of American baseball.
InterVarsity works on campus to establish witnessing communities of faculty and students. Our September picnic has been a big community builder for many of our chapters.
Bob Wolniak is InterVarsity’s senior area director in northeastern Wisconsin.