Spa Night refreshes body, mind and spirit

Spa Night

What can we do to serve other students? Our InterVarsity group was trying to change our reputation on campus. We had already made many positive changes in how we related to other students, faculty and staff. Then we came up with a great idea… .

I attend an all-women’s school so our InterVarsity group thought it would be great to put on a Spa Night for all the women on our campus at Russell Sage College (NY). Body image and eating disorders are huge problems at our very high-strung and personally competitive school. We felt something like this would meet a need, showing women what God has to say about our physical images, beauty and identity.

Spa Night, version 1.0

We decided to do a test run during spring semester, making a small Spa Night with a movie and discussion, plus a few fun activities. Our movie choice was The Devil Wears Prada, with a discussion afterward addressing the topics of beauty, spirituality and body image.

When we went to reserve the room, we found out our chosen weekend was booked for an Admissions event, so every good location on campus was already taken. Disheartened, we reserved a small space in the Spirituality Center. Honestly, with all of the other events going on that night, we didn’t think many people would come. We figured, though, that we would call it a success if we could get even ten of the 300 women who live on campus to come.

As we tackled the details and tried to make our situation work, we really felt like this was a plan that God wanted to happen. But the day of our event, school was cancelled. A big snow storm was predicted for that afternoon and the campus shut down. As a team, we held to our “even if ten show up” attitude and decided that we wouldn’t cancel our event, snow or not. We were the only people on campus who felt this way.

When the Admissions event was cancelled, the woman who arranges rooms on campus called me, since I was the Large Group Coordinator at the time. She asked if I would like the biggest room on campus for the night, in the most prominent, well-known building, complete with a projector, screen and amazing sound system. Of course I said yes.

We are close to another college, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and we became the only event for either school that night. About forty women came, exceeding our expectations, including eight from RPI. Only fourteen of these women were part of the InterVarsity chapter in any way, and more than half were not Christian. We watched the movie and about thirty of the women stayed for the discussion. We talked about what God has to say about beauty with this group of women. A raffle gave us contact information and provided positive feedback. They had a great time and said they would come again if we did it in the fall.

Spa Night, version 2.0

After this successful trial event, God quickly threw open doors for us to host the event again in the fall on a bigger scale. Our five-person team needed help, so we split off some of the work to other groups, engaging the campus a little more in our event.

The first group we approached was the Wellness Center on campus. They occasionally invite a woman to come and do chair massages, so we asked if they would sponsor her for our event. They weren’t able to pay for chair massages, but they offered to help out with something else, like food, if we gave them a price. They also invited us to present our ideas for Spa Night to a panel for funding and support. These people loved our idea and got the Wellness Center to provide smoothies for us, a healthful and delicious snack.

Other individuals and groups contributed as well. The Black Latin Student Association provided chocolates. A group of students did henna hair-color. We brought in a Mary Kay associate and a local jewelry-maker. A friend of an alum was willing to do chair massage for a discount. The campus reverend did guided meditation. We provided crafts and junk food. We also chose the movie for the event and invited a speaker to lead the discussion afterward.

It took a lot of coordination, but we got posters and other advertisements around campus. Many of the advertisements were done by the school itself. We had a turnout of 80 women to start the evening, with probably close to 150 throughout the night. Most of the women were from Sage, but some came from RPI.

The night went so well that Student Development has adopted it as a semi-annual event, but we work with them in the fall only. In the spring, we focus on our chapter’s big event, Multi-Cultural Night.

These big events have helped our InterVarsity group rebuild our reputation by serving the campus. But it is how we live day-to-day as followers of Jesus who love each other that matters most to us. We are continually striving to be a community that gives glory to God and attracts others to him.

—by Heather Allen