By Ashley Shurtleff, Staff Writer
The University of Maine at Farmington’s (UMF) Weekend Adventures and Excursions Program offers the opportunity for students to get off campus and experience different events, such as a trip to Canobie Lake Park in New Hampshire during “Screamfest,” which will occur on October 19th.
The program also gives students the chance “to hangout with their friends and do something fun together,” said Maya Kasper, the assistant director for the Center for Student Involvement. Kasper is the “student activities person.” She is responsible for many of the student events that are held on campus, she’s the advisor to numerous clubs, she does “a lot of publications for student life,” and she heads the Weekend Adventures and Excursions Program.
Since Kasper came to UMF five years ago and took over the program, she has attempted to offer a variety of events “that will meet difference expectations or interests of students,” she said. She plans two trips every month, “one small and one large,” said Kasper. For example, on September 7th students either got to spend the day in Bar Harbor or at Old Orchard Beach. Then, on September 21st, students traveled to New York City to see “The Lion King” on Broadway.
“I try to do a little bit of everything,” said Kasper. In the past, UMF students have gone to Red Sox, Celtics, and Bruins games, the Boston Cruise, Maine Karting in Portland, the Blue Man Group, the Fire and Ice Restaurant in Boston, various museums, Six Flags, the Fryeburg fair, and snow tubing.
Andreaska Jeffcoats, a student at UMF, has been on four of the trips. A few years ago, she went to Culture Fest at UMO. Then last year, she went to see Phantom of the Opera on Broadway and got to go to the Boston Science Museum on the Fire and Ice trip. She also had the opportunity to go on the recent “Lion King” trip. “‘The Lion King’ was spectacular,” Jeffcoats, said. “We also took the subway to see the 9/11 memorial. That was an amazing and emotional experience.”
In the Summer, Kasper does all the “foot work.” Her department is allotted a certain amount of money and she figures out what she can do for the whole year. “I believe the money comes from a special fund that the University has,” said Kasper. Then she buys the tickets and sets up the busses.
Although it depends on the event, whether it’s small or large, the special fund allows Kasper to price tickets at “next to nothing.” “I try to make sure that everything is under 35 dollars,” said Kasper.
Sometimes, Kasper doesn’t even charge anything when the trips are small so that every student can have the opportunity to go. Jeffcoats enjoys the trips for this very reason. “I like being able to do things that I normally could not do, particularly for financial reasons,” said Jeffcoats.
After Kasper figures out the funds, purchases tickets, and sets up the busses, she leaves the planning of each event to the students in her work initiative positions. This semester, she has two working for her. At the beginning of the year, they each picked the trips that they wanted to do and “they do all the prep for going on the trips,” said Kasper. They set up ticket sales, create the lists that they need to have, and send e-mails to the students after they purchase their tickets to inform them of important information about the trip. “On the trip, I’m ultimately responsible,” said Kasper. However, she has her work initiative students do the check-ins. “I feel like it’s a really wonderful opportunity for students to learn about how to run a program like this. They get a lot out of it and they really love it,” said Kasper.
“We just sold tickets for Canobie Park,” said Kasper. “Basically, what students have to do is come the day of ticket sales,” head down to the landing to get a number, wait until their number’s called and then get their ticket. “You can proxy for one person…if you bring their ID card and their money, then you can buy the ticket for them,” said Kasper. Her work initiative studetns put a lot of work into setting up these ticket sales. “We do a lot of marketing,” she said. “We put up posters, we do events notifications” and “we also have a Facebook page” said Kasper.
Kasper enjoys the Weekend Adventures and Excursions Program because she “loves being with the students.” “It’s an opportunity to get to know students in a different way,” said Kasper. UMF students are “responsible, they’re great role models…they like to have fun, and so, we’ve never had any issues on a trip.” One thing she made sure to mention was, “On some trips, like the Bruins, like the athletic trips and musicals, I’ll go and buy and bunch of stuff and we’ll raffle it off when we get back on the bus,” said Kasper.
Kasper likes going on the trips and seeing the students have a good time. “It’s the reason why I do this work, because I just love being with students and getting to know them and being supportive of them in their endeavors here,” said Kasper.