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Make It a Tradition

by Kurt Snyder ’89
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What I like most about Boys Weekend is that it is not only about reliving the past, but enjoying the present and strengthening the bonds built at Wabash.

The friends I made at Wabash are some of the most important people in my life. I wasn’t about to let time and distance erode those friendships. So 11 years ago Dan DeHart and I started organizing what we affectionately call “Boys Weekend.” It started with a short trip to Chicago, preceded by lengthy negotiations with wives and/or girlfriends.
But it has become a tradition that brings around a dozen of us together every year. The location of Boys Week-end changes every year: Las Vegas, New Orleans, Atlanta, Chicago, my house in Carmel (“For the last time,” my wife says.), and a cabin in the mountains. Group size has varied from five to as many  as eighteen. 
This is the one time each year I will see many of these friends, as some of us live far apart and have family, work, and other obligations that make getting together difficult. We tell the same great stories from the old days, but what I like most about Boys Weekend is that it is not only about reliving the past. A big part of it is enjoying the present and strengthening the bonds built at Wabash. We learn about each other’s families, careers, and interests. And we have created a whole new set of stories based on the good times we have had at the many Boys Weekends over the past 11 years.

Here are some of the lessons learned:
Make it a tradition—One reason for our success is the fact that it is now an annual event. Our families know that during the first weekend of the NCAA Basketball Tournament we are going to get together with our old Wabash friends. In fact, my wife has started a Girls Weekend with some of her friends (who coincidently are all married to Wabash graduates). Holding the event on the same weekend each year also allows for easy advanced calendaring. 
Find a leader—Someone needs to be willing and able to take charge of planning the event. It is not a terribly difficult task, but it does take some time. The leader needs to be persistent and organized well enough to get 10 or so people in the same place at the same time.
Location, location, location—Some attendees will view the weekend as a mini-vacation and prefer a location packed with activities such as gambling, golf, or skiing. Others prefer a location with minimal activities in order to maximize time spent together. We have taken both approaches, with each providing its own benefits.
Advertise—Periodic reminders increase attendance. My reminders—from e mails to postcards with an amusing photo from a previous Boy’s Weekend—also promote a dialogue with wives, who have a big say in attendance. And get the date on the family calendar. The biggest reason people don’t come is due to a conflict or poor planning.
Walk—The more you can walk, the better it will be for all. Besides keeping costs down, if everything is within walking distance you will have less group splintering.
Wi-Fi—Many of us have these irritating things called jobs. Those of us who want to keep them find it is helpful to stay in touch via email, so we typically find a location with Wi-Fi or other Internet access.
How long?—We have found that starting on Thursday and ending on Sunday works best. Most of my friends lack enough bargaining power with their wives to negotiate more than a long weekend spent with college buddies.
Get a nice place—While many of us have fond/hazy memories of the General Lew Wallace for walkout, at this point in our lives staying in a place with running water and a cleaning service has its merits. A kitchen and a large central space that is good for congregating help control costs and promote conversation. 
Who goes?—We have developed a core group of pledge brothers who have stayed in touch with each other over the years. It now includes a few guys from the class behind ours. We have 
purposely kept the group small sothat it is manageable.
You built strong friendships during your time at Wabash. Do something to keep them that way. Our Boys Weekends have done that for us. I hope it gives you a good template to build on.