Sibling sleepover makes college a family affair

Meaghan Fleck spent last Friday night like any College student might: she ate a not-so-delicious dinner at Eickhoff Dining Hall, watched a movie in the residence hall and later played Dance Dance Revolution down the hall.

What makes Meaghan’s night so unusual, however, is that she’s only nine years old. Like the other children spotted around campus Friday night, she was participating in the Sibling Sleepover, one of the Family Day events for Homecoming weekend.

Meaghan, who is in fourth grade, tagged along with her older sister Jen, sophomore finance major, getting an early taste of College life.

“I liked all of it,” she said about her visit to the College, which is where she’d like to study someday. “I liked seeing Jen because it’s been a month-and-a-half since I’ve seen her and I miss her.”

The Sibling Sleepover is an award-winning program sponsored by the Residence Hall Association (RHA) and the Townhouse Student Government Association. Over 147 siblings registered this year, Jill Walsh, RHA president said.

College students bonded for the night with their younger brothers, sisters or cousins over dinner before heading over to the Travers Hall Main Lounge for games, crafts and ice cream sundaes.

The lounge buzzed with the chatter of siblings, many of whom crowded around a table scattered with paint, stickers and markers to decorate trick-or-treat bags.

Jessica Phan, 13, put the finishing touches on her bag, alongside her sister Annie, sophomore open options business major. The two then competed in – and won – the Sibling Game, a spin-off on “The Newlywed Game,” which tests how much one partner knows about the other.

College students sat back-to-back with their younger siblings and when asked questions like “What’s the last movie your sibling saw?” or “What’s his or her favorite pizza topping?” one had to guess the answer the other had written down.

“It’s really nice seeing college students bring their younger siblings and have a good time without having to go to a party,” Walsh said, pleased with the event’s turnout in its second year.

At a competition at the Central Atlantic Affiliate of College and University Residence Halls last October, RHA’s presentation on the program ranked in the top 10 out of 60 others, according to Walsh and a Fourth Friday report.

“It’s a good way for hall governments to come together and do something for the community,” Walsh said.

One of the benefits of the sleepover is that it inspires children and teens to set their sights on a college education.

Erin Kaplan, the 14-year-old cousin of Jenn Kaplan, sophomore math and secondary education major, was impressed with the campus and said she wants to attend the College after high school. “It’s huge,” she said. “It’s outside my bubble of Haddonfield.”

Following the activities in the Travers Main Lounge, Lili Daniel, freshman English and communications major, said she and her 12-year-old sister, Chelsea, had a movie night in the residence hall.

When she told her friends that she’d be spending the night in a college residence, Chelsea said, “They thought I was lucky because they wanna come.”

Annie said after leaving Travers, she and Jessica “had lots of fun watching movies and talking.” The Phan sisters used to share a room, so the Sibling Sleepover gave them the chance to relive old times and, like the other students who hosted a younger family member, create new memories in a home away from home.