WHY DOES COSTUME COLLEGE NEED VOLUNTEERS?
By Valarie LaBore
August 7, 2016
When I first came to Costume College (aka “CoCo” by many long term attendees) in 2003 I kept hearing “volunteers, we need volunteers”. Since I was so new to the world of costuming, and to this conference, I had no idea what they did or what they needed you to do. I didn’t know anything or anyone, except my friend who convinced me to join her there. So I just went to classes, wore my one 1880s day dress to the Gala, and enjoyed taking photos of all the pretty things.
The second year I arrived a bit early on Thursday and someone saw me and asked did I have a car and could I help bring things back from the storage unit to the hotel for the displays. Sure, I could do that. I got to meet some of the people in OPS (they run the behind-the-scenes operations of all things Costume College, and send the projectors, screens, cables, and anything needed to the classrooms and various locations). I also met a couple other “volunteers”, and we hauled it all back. I was now officially an “Ook”, a name for those who helped OOPs. [Edit: Ops volunteers are now called “Equipment Ninjas”]
My third year I discovered the “Gallery of Costumes” and talked to someone sitting in there. He said they needed someone to sit for an hour or two to watch the room. Hey, I can do that! All I needed to do was read the card descriptions of each costume and I knew everything I needed to know. And I got to meet a lot of people also coming in to see wonderful things people had made.
During the following year, I joined up with the volunteers who worked the Check-In Desk and we handed out the alphabetized envelopes to each student with their handbooks. Hey, I can do that! A couple years later I took over running it. Basically it was putting all the packages together, labeling envelopes and stuffing them. And we got to be a little more inventive with this looking like an “event” with a theme.
Fast forward a few more years in our new hotel, and I was asked *finally* to assist the Tea Mistress. I had prior experience in catering teas and had asked to do this *forever*. It was the only thing I felt I could contribute to for the longest time. The next year I was the Tea Mistress, and repeated it again the following year.
So you ask what do volunteers do? THEY RUN COSTUME COLLEGE. It’s not a paid position by a company who sets it up. So who runs Costume College? YOU DO!! Without you, there is no Costume College . Besides the Dean, we have heads of each department, like the Gala, the Friday Social, the Pool Party, the Sunday Tea, the Cavalcade of Costumes, the Marketplace, Operations, Check-In, Hotel Liaison, Registrar, the Information Desk (which does require knowledge of the running of Costume College ), the Volunteer Desk, Programming & Teachers/Students, the Bargain Basement, Raffles, Caught on Camera, Hospitality Suite, Portrait Studio, Publications & Signage, Roommates, and Meet-ups. EACH of those departments NEED volunteers to help with the running of them, even if it’s just some extra hands. Hey, YOU can do that!
It’s worth volunteering. All these people that are saying they felt invisible walking around Costume College , or felt like an outsider, need to volunteer. You will connect with others and feel a part of the family. It’s a big family, and we want all the help you can give, even if it’s just an hour. During Costume College is the greatest need. The Volunteer Desk gets requests like: from OPS (Operations) deliver classroom set-up equipment throughout the weekend, EVENTS- help set up the evening events, like making/placing center pieces & decorating raffle tables, or the room. Others help set up the dress forms and costumes being displayed in the Cavalcade of Costumes. In the Hospitality Suite, they might arrange the room, and stock up the tables with food and drink for tired attendees. It may just be sitting in the Bargain Basement room as people drop of donations or later organize it. Check-In needs help to hand out registration & welcome packets and bags on Thursday night.
These are just a few of the “many hands needed”-type of volunteers. If you have ideas, or have some skills to offer, or see a problem, THIS is how you can do it or make a change. You will get a voice, and become a part of the Costume College Family.