Colonial Challenge enters second year of promoting community

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Senior Kyle Stearns found himself blindfolded but $300 richer after participating earlier this year in a Colonial Challenge event, a series of University-sponsored programming that is designed to foster more school spirit and community with prizes and competition.

“They blindfolded me, put me in a phone booth-looking box with a fan at the bottom of it and blew the money all around and I had to grab as much as I could,” he recalled. Stearns ended up capturing and keeping $300.

About 1,800 students – many competing as teams of student organizations and residence floors – participated in the first annual challenge, said Steve Roche, program coordinator for community affinity. The challenges ranged from cash competitions like the one Stearns participated in to attendance at GW basketball games.

“Colonial Challenge succeeded in bringing together parts of the campus for some new unique programming but also for some signature campus traditions,” Roche said.

Created last year to help promote unity on campus, the Colonial Challenge features five categories of competition: academics, learning, and research; athletics, recreation and wellness; city exploration, discovery, and community involvement; service, sustainability, and civic engagement; and international arts and culture.

Roche said using already-formed student groups, like residence halls and student organizations, will capitalize on already-existing bonds. Student organization leaders praised the Challenge’s community building element.

“Colonial Challenge was a way for me to motivate our members to come to different events on campus that they would not normally have,” said Nicholas Sampogna, president of the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity.

“We attended the George Washington’s birthday celebration in the Marvin Center, and one of our brothers won the cherry pie eating contest. A number of us got to meet with and speak to President Knapp, a cool opportunity within itself, and just one of the many that the Challenge program provided,” Sampogna said.

The Colonial Challenge helped with the fraternity’s annual philanthropy event, the Fireman’s Challenge, which benefits D.C. Firefighters Burn Foundation.

“Events like those bring students together, where it might be difficult at a place like GW where so many people have different agendas. Colonial Challenge itself is a real gem for groups looking for recognition or help promoting themselves,” Sampogna said.

Some students stumbled upon the opportunity to participate in Colonial Challenge events by happenstance.

“This past semester a few friends and I watched the Super Bowl in the Hippodrome, where it was announced that there would be a trivia challenge. We figured we might as well sign up,” said Jennica Bocchino.

Her team ended up winning the trivia challenge and receiving GWorld money as a prize.

“My participation in Colonial Challenge was inadvertent, but should I happen to stumble upon the opportunity to participate next year I will certainly do so,” she added.

Colonial Challenge organizers the program’s success will only grow.

“The main goal for 2009-2010 for Colonial Challenge is to just continue to provide a wide range of competitions and involvement for students on campus and make them aware of the rewards, prize money and winnings that Colonial Challenge offers,” Roche said.

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