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THE IMPORTANCE OF ACTIVITIES OR FAMILY ACTIVITIES: MORE THAN A COOKOUT
IONE VARGUS



It’s reunion season! And activities are key. They help family members interact, get to know one another, and instill family values. Letting people sit and talk, or holding a cookout as the only activity, neither impacts nor sustains families. And while identifying activities is challenging for planners who must try to please everyone, it’s also challenging for meeting and tourism organizations who want to bring reunion families to their hometowns.

Weekend-long reunions often include exploring and enjoying the area where the reunion is held. I nsight into local attractions, t he best/safest places to get grub, take a walk, shop, hang out, etc. is information reunion planners look for from tourism organizations.

The following excerpt from Chapter 3 of my unpublished book, Finding the Rest of Me: African American Family Reunions , describes activities that can help any reunion become more than a cookout.

Refreshments in a hospitality room, suite, or around the pool help get the reunion off to a good start and provide a place to unwind. Icebreaker activities can help family members become better acquainted.

Games and sports that encourage clean, wholesome fun and good sportsmanship are played by all ages at reunions, including: softball, volleyball, tug-of-war, tennis, horseshoes, sack race, table tennis, watermelon eating contest, baby crawl, balloon toss, card games, and swimming. And don’t forget face painting, and arts & crafts.

 

Most families have a banquet or meal that is more elaborate than the rest of the reunion followed by a program. There may be a talent show, fashion show, family history presentation, or some combination of these.



 

A motivational/inspirational speaker at the banquet has become a reunion tradition. Speakers often call attention to the need for love and support, and encourage family traditions. Speakers may focus on good parenting and values. They discuss the importance of cooperation, checking up on children at school, and being thoughtful and supportive.

 

Recognition ceremonies are another banquet program feature. Awards are given for scholastic achievement; couples married 25 years or more; service of officers and committee members, etc. Door prizes may be given to whoever traveled the shortest and farthest distances; oldest and youngest attendees; largest individual family group; first and last to arrive, etc.  Families may also honor those who have passed.

 

Workshops, usually held on Saturday may deal with social issues of the day, bringing the family closer. Serious topics ranging from personal development and common problems, to economic development are encouraged.

 

Perhaps the most tangible evidence of the promotion of values at the reunion is the worship service. It may be onsite presided by a family minister, or at a local church.

 

Activities at a reunion are as important as the reunion itself. Not just for reunion attendees, but for everyone involved in the planning.

Visit us at:  www.familyreunioninstitute.net

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