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Family Weekend debuts Family Expo

Families gather at the 2012 Family Weekend. Photo by Paul Flessland.
Families gather at the 2012 Family Weekend. Photo by Paul Flessland.

Family Weekend is a time of introduction between two families. Students arrive on campus and either create, revive or maintain friendships. One month into school, Family Weekend welcomes students’ families to join the campus community to get a sense of student life.

Junior Courtney Backen, the chair of Family Weekend, believes other students and their friends begin to become a sort of family.

“It’s important to spend time with family, but it also is important to spend time as a Cobber family,” she said.

Just as freshman Cobbers are getting used to what may be their new home, Family Weekend will take place. For a weekend, both kinds of families will combine.

Karen Carlson, Associate Director of Alumni Relations, sees this as an opportunity for Cobbers to “(introduce) their family to their Cobber family.” She said each year puts a new spin on the same theme of connecting the two families.

“Each year is so unique,” Carlson said. “There’s something for everybody.”

According to Carlson, this year’s biggest change is the replacement of Family College with Family Expo. Family College showcased the academic side of Concordia. This year, the Family Weekend Committee chose instead to showcase a variety of prominent student organizations that will interact with visiting families.

“We want to give parents a better perspective on all the opportunities available for students,” Carlson said. She realizes that new, overwhelmed students may hesitate to get involved or seek resources and hopes that “parents can encourage students to get involved right away.”

Four co-chairs, including Melody Peterson, have coordinated Family Expo.

“Cobber Expo is a lot of signing up for organizations whereas Family Expo is about showing parents and families what there is on campus,” Peterson said. “It’s more interactive in that sense. It’s also smaller. We wanted to focus on the main college initiatives to keep it under control.”

About 20 campus organizations will be represented, including Student Government Association, Campus Entertainment Commission, Campus Ministry Commission, Dining Services and Global Education.

The expo will take place in the Grant Center. The Family Weekend Committee believes it a great space for the expo, conveniently located between Memorial and the Jake Christiansen Center for easy access and to give parents a chance to see the new facility.

2013 Family Weekend Committee. Submitted photo.
2013 Family Weekend Committee. Submitted photo.

Other parts of this year’s expo also have a new spin.

Saturday’s ice cream social cones will be replaced with root beer floats and dreamsicles with professors.

Backen is excited to see magician Daniel Martin on Friday Fun Night.

Friday Fun Night will not only include the magician, but also Minute-to-Win-It games.

“We have some really funny challenges to do, and I think that’ll help to bring all of the families together into one Concordia family instead of a bunch of separate families,” Backen said.

The Family Festival also integrates families with the Cobber family through its Concordia-themed Family Feud questions. The questions are based off input from upperclassmen. Due to this, younger students and families may learn what upperclassmen enjoy doing on campus or where they hang out.

Carlson explained that other games will be available, such as life-sized versions of Chutes and Ladders in addition to normal-sized board games.

“The whole goal is to make it a fun environment for the whole family,” Carlson said.

As always, students may form their own teams and play.

“It’s open to anyone,” Backen said.

This year’s Showcase will be themed around reality TV.

Carlson is pleased that though the weekend offers a lot, there is still a focus on faith. Backen will open the weekend with a homily on family as community in Chapel. The weekend will end, as usual, with Sunday worship.

“Our biggest goal for Family Weekend was to make everyone feel included, and we understand that not everyone has their family come, so it’s really important that we put emphasis on the Cobber family and not just individual people’s families,” she said. “We can all come together as one because we all have Concordia in common and we are all Cobbers. We’re kinda sharing that Cobber family love.”

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