If you were following along with me on instagram last week then you may have noticed that my week was a bit different than normal. Last week, I did the most fun and out of my comfort zone competition. Each year, the Furman University Student Activities Board puts on a week long fundraising competition leading up to the homecoming football game called HAVOC. This Survivor mixed with Amazing Race style competition starts with students applying to participate and this year there were 35 applications and 18 students chosen to participate. When I told my friends I was interested in applying they were all sort of taken aback and shocked since this would mean me living in a tent not showering, dressing up in a costume, and asking strangers for money for my philanthropy for what could be a whole week. Sounds like me, right? Wrong but ever since the beginning of the year it was something I had been toying with the idea of participating in.
When I told my parents it was something I was applying for they were shocked and I had a number of friends ask me if I had lost a bet when I told them I had been accepted and was going through with participating in this competition. I can honestly say now that I've been through it that it was one of the BEST experiences I've had here at Furman. I've never been pushed further outside of my comfort zone in the best way possible for such a good cause. When applying for this competition each participant chooses a philanthropy which they will be advocating and fundraising for as long as they are in the competition. I chose my sororities local philanthropy, the Julie Valentine Center to be my organization because of the work I've done previously with them and their need for funds to host an on campus conference in the spring. The Julie Valentine Center is a nonprofit right here in Greenville for child abuse and sexual assault victims and their families.
This year Furman's homecoming theme was NickoloDINS so each participant had to choose a Nickelodeon character to dress up for as the week. I chose Patrick Star from Spongebob and was glad to have such a comfortable costume especially given how unseasonably warm it was last week. Starting on Sunday at 5:00 all the participants moved into our tents packing anything we could possibly need for the week and bringing it with us since there was no going back to our apartments or heading off campus. For the first two nights I shared my tent with two other girls so we got pretty quick although the last few nights as more and more people got eliminated I had the tent to myself.
As you can tell from the picture above we were definitely a sight for sore eyes in these costumes on campus all week. Lots of stares force you into becoming comfortable in your skin pretty quickly but I can guarantee I won't be wearing much from my outfit any time soon considering how I had it on for a week straight (without washing it...).
The first night we had to introduce ourselves and do a choreographed dance to our shows theme song which had me a bit terrified. Fortunately, there wasn't a huge crowd and I don't think I embarrassed myself too much but lets just say that was just the beginning of the week to come. Each day, participants were eliminated based on the amount of money they were able to fundraise both daily and collectively for the week. It never failed that I would get a pit in my stomach each day come eliminations. We also competed in challenges which gave us points in an internal point system that could also help to keep us from getting eliminated. In the past, participants were able to vote one another off however this year that component was taken out so that participants could get to know one another better without fear of alliances etc.
The first day was hard. I had never put myself in the position of going up to students that I knew and didn't know asking them for money while explaining just what that money would be going towards. I was shocked by the number of students who were so receptive to this idea and donated any spare change or money they may have had in order to help the Julie Valentine Center and keep me in the competition. I don't doubt that a lot of my friends donated just to see if I could make it in a tent for a week but whatever the reason I was so pleased with how much I was able to raise in one short day.
That night, all 18 participants competed in our first challenge. This night was our intellectual challenge and involved Nick trivia. We were assigned to groups and were given clues about buildings on campus to help us find where we needed to go to answer our next trivia question and with each question we got right we were given a wooden letter that eventually spelled out HAVOC! This was one close competition and led to a foot race to see which team would finish first. Shockingly enough, the team I was on ended up coming in first which was an exciting way to start the week. That night 3 people were eliminated and we all started to mentally prepare ourselves for day two.
After two nights in a tent (sleeping on the ground) without showering we were all a bit pooped and I had to mentally talk up the day as I prepared for day two of fundraising. While my total this day wasn't as high as the previous one I was still so shocked by the generosity of my professors and friends when it came to my endeavors. That night we had our creative challenge. This was the one I was by far the most nervous for since our clue that morning implied that we would be doing improv. Let's take a step back and talk about how when I was younger I had to be bribed into going on stage for dance recitals and school plays, acting and dancing are not my forte. This ended up going better than I had expected with us again put into teams of 3 to go on stage and tell a story based on the last persons sentence all fitting into a general theme. Watching this was the comic relief we all needed and while our group was getting smaller we were definitely all becoming closer and closer. I avoided elimination this night as well which was a relief although that meant three more of our friends went home bringing our number to 12.
Wednesday was an adventure. I raised more this day than the previous two and my partner and I won our physical challenge. The win was great but the prize that came along with that was so much better. We were allowed to go back to our apartments and shower! I will never take daily showers for granted again considering that going from Sunday to Wednesday without showering while sleeping outside in a tent had me feeling pretty gross. It doesn't hurt that this came after doing an obstacle course meaning that we were all a bit sweatier than we care to admit. After eliminations that night where four people were eliminated I took the longest shower and came back to the tent feeling re-energized and so ready for the rest of the week.
On Thursday there were 8 of us left and we were all under the impression that at the end of the day there would only be 3, talk about a big scary jump. We fundraised as hard as we could all attempting to come up with creative ways to out fundraise one another especially considering we weren't scheduled to have a challenge that night. While the chairs of this event kept freaking us out about a potential challenge in front of a large majority of the student body eliminations came that night with only 3 participants eliminated. After that elimination ceremony we were told to get in the car where the remaining 5 of us were convinced that we would be doing a challenge off campus where the other 2 of us would be eliminated. Instead, we were surprised with our first non-dining hall meal of the week at a Furman favorite pizza place about 5 minutes from campus. We were treated to breadsticks, salads, individual pizzas, and dessert and were also told that all 5 of us would be remaining in the tents another night because the difference between first place and fifth place at this point was only $100. We were all under the impression that we were done fundraising but were told that we had until Friday at 4:00 to power through and raise the last little bit.
Well, for me that last day was by far the best. I was able to raise over $1000 in a single day and was in shock pretty much the entire day. To say the Furman community rallied behind our causes is an understatement. I turned in my money feeling so proud of myself and all that I had accomplished in a week but was so exhausted and ready to shower. We wouldn't find out totals until the homecoming football game on Saturday but the experience far exceeded any expectation I had for it!
Saturday morning I woke up to a text saying I had made it to the final three! The top three participants are given prize money and honored during the third quarter of the football game and although I was nervous to see the results I was so proud of myself for proving myself and others wrong when competing in this competition. I came in second and raised $2347.02 in one week more money than I've ever fundraised in my life especially considering all donations had to be from people on campus. While I feel like a lot of my experience in this event is hard to write about I am so glad that I have this blog as a platform to share this sort of thing on since I know that this is an event I will want to look back on in the future since I experienced more personal growth in this week than I ever could have imagined.
For a little bit more about my charity I made this video to share on campus before the event began and think it better communicates my cause and some aspects of the experience than I've been able to in this post. I'd love to hear your take on all of this or if your school does anything similar!