MTSU‘s June Anderson Center for Women and Nontraditional Students is hoping to connect more families through new summer programming.
Middle Tennessee State University students with dependents can gather at the JAC for food and fun, all free, from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday, June 9, and Friday, July 14. Families can enjoy pizza followed by an evening of geocaching on campus.
So what is geocaching?
“It’s a worldwide treasure hunt,” explained Amanda Gjertson, parenting students coordinator at the JAC. “You put the mobile app on your phone, Android or Apple. It’s free.”
Once you download the app, you’ll see a GPS map with icons showing the geographic latitude and longitude coordinates to pinpoint the exact location.
The ones on the MTSU campus are small: an acorn, a tiny container — six in total. All of them are “not too hard” to find, Gjertson said, but it’s a way to get everyone in the family involved in an activity and teach a life skill, too.
Even if families aren’t able to make it to one of the events, the caches will be active for families to find through August and possibly into the fall.
The JAC is hoping to add more events and activities like geocaching to offer ways for families to connect with each other and with fellow student parents. According to statistics, around 20% of the MTSU student population identify as parents, but only 50 to 60 students are registered for services through the JAC.
“We want to do things that bring families on campus,” said Dr. Maigan Wipfli, director of the June Anderson Center. “We’ve heard from students in the past that they don’t always feel their families are welcome with them. So we especially want to make the office available to them and also some of the events available so they can bring their family, kids of all ages, spouses and significant others to do things on campus and (families) don’t feel left out.”
Gjertson and Wipfli say they’re working to attract more participants.
“We hope people come to our stuff, because the more people come, the more things we can do,” Wipfli said.
In addition to special events, the June Anderson Center offers families items to “check out” for entertainment, ranging from puzzles and art supplies to backpacks filled with activities.
The center also has an online catalog of parent resources as well as guidelines for what items can be donated for use in its toy lending library. The JAC is also accepting donations for its school supply drive for the back-to-school giveaway in August.
— Nancy DeGennaro (Nancy.DeGennaro@mtsu.edu)
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