An Undiscovered Gem? Your Charleston County Parks

Many of you recently moved to Charleston and are seeking fun things to do in your new town.  If you haven’t had the chance to visit one of the Charleston County Park facilities, don’t let that opportunity slip by.  There are parks on James Island, Mt. Pleasant, North Charleston, West Ashley, and Johns Island, but there is so much more.  Numerous recreational and instructional programs are also offered.

Spend a few minutes on the Charleston County Parks website to get a better idea of what appeals to you.  Whether it is taking your dog to one of the best dog parks in the area, learning a paddling sport or how to climb, participating in the triathlon sprint series, or joining in on a bird walk, this program is sure to offer something of interest that helps you appreciate this really is your new home.

Crew Club Adds Two to All-American Teams

 

June 11, 2021

The announcement of the ACRA All-American awards for rowing is eagerly anticipated at this time of year and the College of Charleston’s club team scored two on these coveted teams.

The American Collegiate Rowing Association is a national association of member schools that stretches from coast to coast and includes many of the bigger schools.

Liza Romanova, the current captain of the club, placed on the first team of the Academic All-American Team.  A GPA of 3.85 or higher is required for consideration.  Only 60 rowers achieved this distinction.

Ally Lesher, a senior and former captain of the squad, earned a spot on the All-American Team based on rowing performances, career results, and coach recommendations.  Only 17 rowers made this year’s women’s team.

Both rowers deserve a rousing round of applause for this latest recognition and their long-standing efforts on behalf of our club team.

The full press release can be accessed here:
ACRA All-American Academic Awards 2021
ACRA All-American Awards 2021

52% of Charleston residents live within a 10-minute walk of a park

The Trust for Public Land continues to do some amazing work and is nearing its 50th year in existence (1972).

Of the many interesting details they are involved with, this one caught our eye.  Over half of Charleston residents live within a 10-minute walk of a park.  How fortunate we are.

The link provided will allow you to follow your own initiative in finding things of importance to you.  One recommendation is to look at the map provided, and of course, you can look at other cities as well.

Give it a good look.  Better yet, why not walk to one of those nearby parks and recreate?

Charleston, South Carolina | The Trust for Public Land (tpl.org)

Sense of Belonging and Other Social Outcomes Tied to Frequency of Use at the George Street Fitness Center

Introduction

If you spend any time at all on a college campus you are sure to hear talk of learning and other developmental outcomes that occur outside of the classroom.  Is this just idealistic banter or is it possible that some of this learning does take place, and of all places at the George Street Fitness Center (GSFC)?  You may be delightfully surprised by the findings of a recent investigation.

Having previously examined College of Charleston students enrolled in our group fitness classes and finding measurable improvements in various components of physical fitness, it was time to direct attention to another side of student wellness, that belonging to the social domain.  Intramural sports and other fitness programs offer an important avenue for student interaction. This interaction can translate into strong development of social skills, integration into the university and even a higher retention rate among students that frequently participate in these activities (Belch, Gebel and Maas, 2001).

What prompted this investigation was a disappointing finding that over several semesters a large number of students visited the GSFC just one or two times over the course of a semester.   For the first seven weeks of the spring 2021 semester, 1119 different students visited the GSFC.  Of this total, 430 students came just once or twice during these first seven weeks.

That statistic begs the larger question about what is lost for those not returning.  Does participation in the activities at the university fitness center help shape certain social-emotional outcomes that are considered critical in one’s personal development?  Moreover, is there a difference to be found between groups based on their frequency of use of the university fitness center?  Sense of belonging, social bonding, self-confidence, and the ability to interact with peers were among the 10 social behaviors compared.

Belch, H.A., Gebel, M., & Maas, G.M. (2001). Relationship between student recreation complex use, academic performance, and persistence of first-time freshmen. NASPA Journal, 38(2), 254–268.

 

Analysis

Email surveys totaling 1008 were sent to the population of students, N=1119, who visited the GSFC at least one time from the start of the spring semester through February 28.  The returned surveys, n= 110, equated to a 10.9% return rate.

The survey contained 17 questions, with numbers 1-13 using a 5-point Likert scale for scoring: 1= strongly agree, 2= agree, 3= unsure, 4= disagree, and 5= strongly disagree.  Questions 1-10 focused on the individuals’ social attributes, questions 11-13 evaluated the respondent’s connection to the university and the GSFC, and the remaining questions asked for personal information.

Table 1.  Survey Questions.  n=110. Mean SD
1.  The George Street Fitness Center, or GSFC for short, helped me create a strong emotional tie at the College of Charleston. 2.91 1.09
2.  The GSFC is essential in creating a social bonding experience. 3.15 1.20
3.  I feel more responsible toward the College of Charleston as a result of my participation at the GSFC. 2.95 1.19
4.  My ability to interact with new people improved as a result of my participation at the GSFC. 3.24 1.23
5.  My overall happiness improved largely due to my participation at the GSFC. 2.06 1.07
6.  My self-confidence improved as a result of my participation at the GSFC. 2.02 0.99
7.  My leadership ability improved as a result of my participation at the GSFC. 3.25 1.09
8.  My trust in peers increased due to my participation at the GSFC. 3.11 1.06
9.  Participation at the GSFC improved my sense of belonging here at the College of Charleston. 2.71 1.14
10.  My overall college experience has been enhanced as a result of participation at the GSFC. 2.29 1.10
11.  The GSFC was a major attraction when choosing universities to attend. 3.59 1.20
12.  I have considered leaving the College. 3.88 1.31
13.  One primary reason I have not left the College is the GSFC. 3.89 1.03

 

Measure 1:  The null hypothesis was there was no difference between the population mean and that of the sample group for each of the 10 social outcomes listed in the survey.  A t-test was run for each of the survey questions.   The alpha level for determining significance was p<.05.  The degrees of freedom= 109.   Calculated t-scores above 1.99 permitted the null hypothesis to be rejected.

Of the ten questions related to social behaviors, these four outcomes showed a significant increase attributable to the students’ participation in activities held at the GSFC.

Question
Social Outcome
t-score
Question 5 overall happiness. -9.19
Question 6 self-confidence. -10.44
Question 9 sense of belonging. -2.67
Question 10 overall college experience. -6.74

 

Measure 2:  Is there a difference in these social outcomes between the two user groups based on frequency of use in such a short period?  From the population of infrequent users, those visiting 2 or fewer times, N=430, a sample group was formed from those returning a survey, n=42.   The frequent users group was set using 10 or more visits for inclusion.  The population for frequent users with 10 or more visits, N=310, allowed the formation of a sample group, n=45, from those returning a survey.

“Sense of belonging” was the item that held the most interest to this investigator.  Did it differ between the two groups?  A statistically significant result was found for “sense of belonging” for the frequent users group (M=2.22 , SD=0.927 ) compared to the infrequent users group (M=3.29 , SD=1.24 ), t(85) = 4.56, p<.05 indicating the frequent users had a stronger “sense of belonging” than did the infrequent users group.

These other social behaviors were compared between groups and showed statistically significant results with the frequent users scoring higher on these items.  The alpha was set at p<.05.  The degrees of freedom were 85.  The critical t-value used to reject was 1.99.

Question Social Outcome
t-score
Question 1 strong emotional tie. 3.60
Question 5 overall happiness. 4.66
Question 6 self-confidence. 4.71
Question 8 trust in peers. 4.00
Question 9 sense of belonging. 4.56
Question 10 overall college experience. 4.56

            

Conclusion

Perhaps the term “Center” has dulled over the years to the point it simply means another facility.  The GSFC is in every sense a center of the campus world for numerous students who avail themselves of its opportunity for activity, fun, and fitness, and in return, their personal “center” is enhanced.  The data quantify something that for the most part persons were left to comment using broad generalizations.  Now it can be said with greater confidence that a number of social development outcomes found within our student base are improved through their active participation at the GSFC.  It also leads to a goal to redirect our infrequent users to the GSFC in hopes of helping them gain that sense of belonging.

How COVID Impacted Physical Activity Levels in 2020

As we start to see a glimmer of hope that the despair and catastrophic loss caused by this dreadful virus is on the wane, national associations are beginning to quantify and report the impacts along various segments of our lives.

Last March, groups such as our campus recreation program were all trying desperately to find ways to continue to offer programming, especially fitness programming, using a largely untried virtual format.  While we improved considerably in our delivery since that time, did it help persons during this period?

Recent research by the National Recreation and Park Association revealed a few outcomes worth noting, especially given our primary field of interest is physical activity and recreation.  They reported that 33 percent of adults in this country upped their physical activity during this time.  On the other hand, and not surprising, forty-six percent showed a decrease in their physical activity.  Another 20 percent claimed no change in their physical activity.

A short version of the report is provided at the link above.  And for a parting thought, “Today is a good day to start adding physical activity to your lifestyle.”

 

National Rec Day is February 22

“Leave all the afternoon for exercise and recreation, which are as necessary as reading.  I will rather say more necessary because health is worth more than learning.”   — Thomas Jefferson

Stay tuned to the CRS social media sites for events we will hold as we join university rec departments around the country in celebration of this important day.  The College continues to be an institutional member of the National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association, NIRSA, now for over 40 years.

New Year, New Fitness Plans?

Call it convenient if you like, but the World Health Organization recently issued an update to its longstanding physical activity guidelines.  With many of us considering new approaches to our daily regimen at the start of a new year, these guidelines may come as good news.

The revised message says that all activity counts toward your daily exercise expenditure.  Cast aside those older ideas where you traveled to a workout center and then undertook a 45-60 minute workout.  That, in and of itself, is one reason persons let slip their exercise plans — the time it took.  Now whether it is a 10-minute walk to get from behind your desk or a spontaneous dance session alone in your office, these all count toward your daily minimum.  Sure there is a bit more to it than that, but it is within your reach.

This short page includes a couple of videos worth taking a quick glance.  Our hope is this will be enough to propel you forward.  If you’d prefer to read from the World Health Organization’s website, this page will provide a more thorough explanation.

Your CRS fitness professionals lean more on the American College of Sports Medicine for the latest information and guidelines related to physical activity and exercise.  Their site is chocked full of items of interest to the general public.  The highlighted link provides a suggested starting point for those who want to know more.

Yoga Class.
Yoga class underway in J201 in the Johnson Center.

 

 

Not Just Another Game of Ping Pong

Most of us were introduced to this sport in someone’s garage, and while a few may have gotten good at it, it just remains a fun way to pass 30 or so minutes.  Make no mistake, table tennis is an international sport and attracts some amazing athletes.

Jordan Familant and Jared Miller, winners of the recent CRS tournament, enjoyed the privilege of playing a challenge for fun matchup with President Hsu and his wife, Dr. Chen.  The special event took place in the Silcox Gym on the Tuesday before everyone dashed off for the Thanksgiving holiday.

The entire campus knows of the president’s penchant for this sport and a number of you no doubt wondered just how good is he.

I’ll let you decide, though he will humbly tell you that he is not the best in the family!

President Hsu punctuates this point with a smash.
Sign of the times? Empty gym and players wearing masks.

An offshoot from this event is that Jordan Familant is interested in starting a table tennis club.  Keep in mind that the tables are set up in the gym for drop-in play with paddles and balls available too.  Make a trip to the Johnson and Silcox Gyms for a little fun.  You never know when President Hsu may stop in again for a quick game.

Silcox Gym Still Standing Strong

Merely getting older is not reason enough to take notice.  Look around, we live in a town full of old things.  This example is different.

We’ve all seen the quick-change costume act at the circus where the performer rapidly switches outfits in the blink of an eye.  The Silcox Gym too is similar.  Over the course of its 80 plus years it has served numerous events and purposes from a platform for presidential candidates, athletic center, a lunchtime cafe, location for intramural sports, department offices for physical education and classes, and holiday parties just to name a few.

It is coming up on the 25th anniversary of its last renovation, having reopened on November 29, 1995.  The change from the last fix-up was remarkable though the envelope of the building was untouched.  Unbelievably another renovation is already on the schedule.  And so the quick change act continues though in our parts we move a little slower.

While the focus of this is on the building, it is appropriate to point out that without persons of vision, strength of character, and the discipline to see it through, this building would be little more than a hollow shell.  Tied to this venerable gymnasium are quite a few individuals who stamped their contributions to the College, the community, and in some cases beyond.  Surprisingly quick were their long tenures: Willard A. Silcox, Anthony Meyer, Andrew Lewis, Tom Langley, Joan Cronan, Nancy Wilson, and Scooter Barnette.

The black and white photos were provided by the Special Collections unit of the College of Charleston Library.   A lot of dreams germinated in this building, and with any luck, that role will continue even if sporting a new outfit.

The facade is the same but the oak tree and fence have disappeared.
The gym was built to serve as an auditorium as well.
Yes, tennis courts where the TD Arena now sits.
Cornerstone being laid back in 1938.
Lobby entry from George Street.
Information plate detailing the building of the gym.
Information plate detailing the opening of the student activities building.
Facade of the Silcox Gym 2020.
Facade of the Silcox Gym 2020.
Panorama shot of the gym on the 2nd floor.
Panorama shot of the gym on the 2nd floor of Silcox 2020.
Lobby of the Silcox Gym 2020.
Lobby of the Silcox Gym 2020.