You may think you’ve got your sorority communication skills down to a science, but sometimes that all flies out the window when someone yells, “Road triiiiiiiip!”
It may be that no sweeter words have ever been spoken than those.
For college undergraduates—and especially for sorority women—road trips are a staple of life.
And, sometimes, you find yourself on the holy grail of ultimate journeys: a road trip to a chapter retreat.
It’s a chance for connecting and bonding from the moment you turn on your GPS and choose your destination.
The last thing you want to do is waste this opportunity to communicate and grow closer with your sisters.
Of course, communication takes a central role when you’re working toward chapter goals, like setting a budget or planning recruitment events. But good communication benefits you in the classroom, the chapter house, your personal relationships, and your career.
It’s not just something you turn on and off when you need it. It’s a lifelong skill you build on each day, and sorority life is the perfect place to foster that skill.
So let’s fuel up and make sure we packed the mosquito repellant, because it’s time to time to talk about Sorority Communication Basics for Road Trips and Retreats.
1. Sorority Communication Killed the Radio Star
Sometimes the instinct is to blast the radio or a podcast during a long drive, and then crank up the tunes twice as loud once you get to your retreat.
We all love a good singalong! Carpool-lane Karaoke is part of the experience. So sure, let the music blast and belt your favorite lyrics. But then it’s time to use your sorority communication toolbox and actually talk—and listen.
Give each sister a chance to talk about what’s going on in her life or tell a story about her experiences.
Allowing some quiet time on a long trip has an impact:
- It allows sisters to relax and unwind.
- It gets you in the spirit of bonding and brings you closer together.
- That spirit will carry over into your chapter retreat, making it more productive.
Try to make car trips fun, and leave the chapter business for the retreat. Speaking of fun . . .
2. Let the Games Begin
A chapter retreat often features team-building activities to bond. But let’s say you’re on a road trip, either to a retreat or somewhere else.
You can’t exactly do trust falls, toss around a hacky sack, design t-shirts, or roast marshmallows.
However, you can definitely play some bonding games in the car—as long as they don’t require an open flame or projectiles.
Here’s an example of a game. It starts when you all get on your phones. No, not to stare into the abyss of endless social media scrolling. This is a bonding game, remember?
The point of the game is to go into each other’s Instagram accounts, pick out interesting pictures, and take turns telling a personal story behind each.
Most sisters may know each other, but sometimes new members have a hard time getting to know everyone. This is a way for everyone to make the effort in a stress-free environment.
Other fun communication-based car games include:
- The Sister Awards Game where you name fictional awards for your fellow members, like “best at writing her comp paper the night before it’s due.”
- Thought-Provoking Questions. Take turns asking questions like, “What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned as a sister?” or “When’s a time you overcame a big fear?”
- Make Up Your Own! There are plenty of fun games to play in the car that can bring you together. Get creative.
3. How Not to Clam up at Chapter Retreats
These retreats can either be a nightmare or a dream come true. That depends largely on whether members are willing participants or hostages.
This boils down to sorority leadership. Are executive members pushing sisters too hard? Taking people out of their comfort zone is a good thing, but that’s different than literally making sisters uncomfortable.
Plan a retreat with the following things in mind:
- The focus/purpose of the retreat. What are your goals? How will you accomplish them?
- Who’s going. Is this for new members, executive officers, or everyone?
- Bring members in on the planning. Listen to their ideas. How can you bring people together and make them want to participate?
Remember that your fellow executive officers may be open and relaxed with you, but new members are still settling in to the fast-paced nature of sorority life and may still be a little timid.
Plan activities that foster communication as equals with new members.
Don’t have them interview sisters or otherwise put them in the spotlight in a way that will get them to shut down.
Act confident, offer guidance, and treat everyone with respect.
4. Retreats Take Time. People Get Hungry, so Break Some Bread.
You may have a retreat schedule so rigidly planned out that you forget your sisters are people, not machines. They have bodies, meaning they must take bathroom breaks, stretch, and—crucially—eat.
However, viewing meals as a “break” from the bonding could detract from the progress you’ve made.Consider instead viewing the lunch table as a place to come together and break bread.
Plan a menu with plenty of healthy brain food, a little bit of sugar for dessert, and fresh water or fruit drinks.
And, of course, have coffee available—unless you want to be attacked by a mob of tired, angry sisters.
Try to seat new members and established members together, so it doesn’t get clicky and everyone gets a chance to connect. You could plan games like trivia, or leave it more unstructured, so long as members are enjoying themselves and each other.
Most importantly, you can go back to the retreat activities with full stomachs and focused minds.
Road trips and retreats are a great place to bond, but sisters aren’t always in the same place at the same time. How do you keep the communication going?
Check out OmegaFi’s all-in-one sorority communication software, OmegaOne.
Launching this fall, OmegaOne offers features such as a share chapter events calendar, personalized messaging, geo-location check-ins for events and study hours, alerts and reminders, file sharing, emergency check-ins, and a contact database of members and alumnae.
We’d love to hear your thoughts on sorority communication. Leave your questions or comments below.