Oftentimes when one attends a university with a high undergraduate population like JMU, the campus can feel overwhelmingly unknown. One of the best ways to alleviate some of the stress that comes with unfamiliarity is to get involved in a club or organization.
When one joins a new club, they’re introduced to a smaller community within a big school and may be able to put their passions to use. Getting involved introduces one to new faces that can make campus feel more comfortable and less intimidating.
CHAARG (Changing Health, Attitudes and Actions to Recreate Girls) is a new club on campus that’ll get started this fall. It has a community of about 10,000 members nationally, drawing in many with its powerful goal — making fitness fun for college-aged girls. The club hopes to keep girls away from more stereotypical workouts and introduce them to a community of others to participate in ones that are more diverse and fun.
Sophomore hospitality major Brittany Gaughan is the secretary of CHAARG. Gaughan decided to run for a position because she enjoys exercise and wants to help create a community of girls who she could share her passion with.
CHAARG hopes to engage many girls at JMU who feel bored with their workout routine. They want to stray them away from their typical routine and engage them in fitness that is more enjoyable.
“I am very excited for this upcoming semester because I believe our events will get a lot of people interested,” Gaughan said. “We have some very exciting events planned already including yoga on the Quad and a bootcamp type of workout, and I hope these events can create a family-like atmosphere within the club.”
2. Cosplay Guild
Cosplay Guild might be the perfect club for those interested in any kind of crafting. Anyone can join and learn various different types of costuming, including special effects makeup, wig making and thermoplastic armor crafting.
Junior economics major Nadia Hamad got involved in Cosplay Guild because of her love of creating new projects. She enjoys creating her own work.
“I’m a member of this club because I want to convention the past and people,” Hamad said. “I like to learn how to sew new things and improve my skills with each new project.”
Cosplay Guild has biweekly meetings and events on the weekends, including project days and workshops — none of which are mandatory.
“Since there isn’t a time commitment, the club really gives you what you put into it,” Hamad said. “Everyone attends what they can and always benefits from coming.”
Give is a club of volunteers at JMU focused on improving the environment and community. Its projects are adventure-driven and often work with the Harrisonburg community to implement positive change.
Sophomore business management major Graham Dormire chose to be a member of Give to meet new people at JMU who have the same values and interests as he does.
“I like Give because everyone is down to earth and welcoming,” Dormire said. “I also think it’s cool that the club works to directly better the Harrisonburg community.”
Recently, Give worked with the nonprofit organization Vine and Fig in Harrisonburg. Vine and Fig’s goal goes hand-in-hand with Give’s values, both of which work to improve sustainability in the city. With Vine and Fig, Give volunteers helped build gardens and a bike trail.
The club has bi-weekly meetings where it discusses events in the upcoming semester. Give doesn’t have a time commitment and is open to anyone who’s interested in helping the environment.
4. Valley Ambassadors
JMU student volunteers make up Valley Ambassadors, a club that works with high school students in Harrisonburg.Volunteers work as mentors for 9th-10th grade students deemed at risk of not graduating high school. Their goal is to inform and motivate these students to succeed.
Sophomore social work major Brittany Kaplan is secretary of Valley Ambassadors. She wanted to be a member because she’s passionate about helping others.
“My favorite part about being a member of Valley Ambassadors is meeting the kids,” Kaplan said. “I like the idea that I’m someone they can talk to, and being able to watch the effects of conversations that volunteers have on the kids and vice versa is so powerful.”
Valley Ambassadors has bi-weekly meetings that are focused on informing volunteers of how to converse with the students. The meetings also teach volunteers how to address the students when conversations get deep or difficult — if they are told something deep and personal or addressing students when they ask the volunteers personal questions.
5. Love Your Melon
The Love Your Melon crew at JMU works directly with the apparel brand to raise awareness for pediatric cancer. Love Your Melon donates 50% of its funds to nonprofit partners to support the fight against childhood cancer. The club plans events at JMU to get people involved and raise awareness. Club members also visit hospitals to see patients and send apparel baskets to the families of children battling cancer.
Sophomore health science major Carly Cook was interested in Love Your Melon because the club’s goal went along perfectly with her future career. She attends JMU so she can pursue a career in pediatrics. After joining, Cook became more concerned with helping those affected by childhood cancer and took on the role of organizing Melonhead events.
“Melonhead events are events outside of the volunteer work we do in order to bring members of the crew together,” Cook says. "When I joined Love Your Melon, I immediately felt comfortable because of the welcoming atmosphere the club has.Not only am I able to directly help out the families of children affected by cancer and see the effects of the work our club does, but I also am a part of a new family away from home at JMU.”
Contact Emily Lambert at email@example.com. For more on the culture, arts and lifestyle of the JMU and Harrisonburg communities, follow the culture desk on Twitter @Breeze_Culture.