Published on: 02 December 2019
Written by: Kim Bladder
But actually written by Jorrit Geels
Studying AI in Nijmegen can be rough. There are always plenty of assignments haunting you, and it can get a bit too much sometimes. To help the students vent and/or temporarily escape their struggles, CognAC organises a variety of relaxing activities. Some of them are small; going pooling for an afternoon. Some of them are a bit bigger; a symposium for a day. And some of them are there to really clear your mind, and for straight-up having a great time together with your fellow students.
There are three annual activities that are in the latter category. The Batavierenrace, the study trip and the CognAC weekend. All take place over the course of multiple days, and help the students to expand their network, memories and, let’s be honest.., alcohol tolerance. The weekend is, when measuring in the amount of CognAC members joining, by far the biggest multiple day event with 60+ people joining.
The thing is, though, that the weekend is always a bit mysterious. The theme, location and programme stays rather secret, sometimes even until the activity itself. Not much is known about the weekend, but even less is known about the committee itself. I would like to shed some more light about what being a CognAC weekend committee member is like, and how much fun it actually is.
The CognAC Weekend in its current form has taken place for 5 years in a row now. There are always a few ingredients required to make it yet another success: a location, some form of transport, and on top of that: a handful of activities, food and drinks. As you can see, these ingredients are already very diverse.
On one hand we have some logistics. We have to contact external parties and keep them properly informed about our plans. We have to scout for various locations and bus parties. Even though we have acquired a very decent shortlist after these years, it is always a bit of work to get it all settled with the parties.
On the other hand, we have the stuff that the participants will actually see: the food, drinks and activities. Cooking for so many people can be very challenging, as a whole new world opens in front of you. Serving pasta at 6 means you have to start boiling the pasta water at around 4 (!!), just to name something. However, it is also very fun to deal with these challenges, especially if you already love cooking in general.
The activities are the biggest part of the weekend: how are you going to keep all the participants entertained for the 48-ish hours you’re keeping them at the weekend location?
It is always a bit challenging to organize activities at a location without many facilities, but nevertheless a lot of fun. This year we played living stratego and a crazy88 during the day for instance; we also did a pubquiz and a cantus in the evenings to close the day off together in style. This is just one example of how to fill the weekend, though. There are many possibilities: and that is where your creativity comes in. The previous two editions we played a booze bingo for instance, and last year we had a quidditch tournament. It’s all possible! The people are there anyway, they might as well play any ridiculous games that you come up with. 50 blogposts ago, I even wrote a report of the CognAC weekend 2018; https://svcognac.nl/blog/56. Give it a read!
Surprise; there is one more major aspect about the weekend that needs to be addressed. To make sure so many people are aware of this amazing event taking place and actually join in the end, the weekend needs a proper promotion plan and materials. The weekend has had a trailer and even a custom logo for a while now, the latter of which even gets embroidered onto the Weekend Committee’s committee clothing: bathrobes! That’s pretty swag, if you ask me.
The WkC is the perfect mix of non-serious and serious, when you’re looking to do committee work. The committee often consists of a group of friendly AI students who are always in for a chat, which makes the meetings often hard to manage… However, that is also what I love about the WkC. It often becomes this group of friends who “accidentally” also happen to organize the CognAC Weekend.
There is a huge amount of documentation available on what people to contact when, so the preparations can be quite a no-brainer for the most part. It really comes down to your creativity to make it an even more epic event than the year before.
Being a WkC member is not only very fun, it is also really rewarding. All the people joining can see your efforts, and love you for what you have done for them. Whether it be cooking a delicious meal, making sure we had more healthy snacks or eggs for breakfast, or organizing that one amazing activity: they all love you. After the weekend (and often even right on the spot), you drown in thank-you-messages, and people appreciate you for all you’ve done.
Not only do you get famous for all your efforts; the people there often also become your friends as you made great memories together. At the CognAC weekend nobody cares about what year you are in or where you are from: we are all AI students that join to have fun together as a whole.
A list of fun memories I made at the past three CognAC weekends:
- At my first weekend, we somehow initiated a party where everyone was changing their clothes. At one point, everyone was wearing a different shirt, pants, shoes, jacket, whatever. It was basically a giant fitting-room-party.
- We once had a bonte avond where the winning act was literally two people saying the word “shrek” for 20 times (and nothing else) while acting out a romantic story.
- We also had a room with simply one bed in it, which was quickly named as “the boom-boom-room”. It even got out of hand to the point where the room became a museum devoted to “boomy business”. There were guided tours as well.
- The participants always surprise you; two CognAC members have been attending the weekend for three years now and always bring their own pan to use as a plate, a cup and a portable table. On top of that, someone found it necessary to bring a kilo of onions this year to share with his friends as snack…
- When we played a fragment of the legendary ‘Wombo Combo’ youtube video during our audiomaster, some people in the room could not hold it anymore and started screaming and dancing on the tables. That’s when one’s supposed to say “Classic CognAC”
The list goes on and on. There is always so much going on at the CognAC weekend, there’s always something to do for everyone. Just look at the pictures on the cloud, to get the best impression.
It is even more rewarding to know that you organized and thus caused all this fun, and that all these memories would not have been able to be there without your input.
The CognAC weekend is a competitor for the most fun activity of the year, and the committee has consistently been one of the closest and most fun committees to be in.
The next CognAC weekend will be even more special, as next year CognAC will be organizing their sixth Lustrum (30th birthday). Will you help organizing this amazing weekend? Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to sign up. You can also contact that very same address if you have any more questions about the committee itself.