As dusk descended on Montclair State University, handfuls of eager students followed painted chalk symbols that led them to the grassy field between Freeman and Russ Hall. There, several students from the Recreation Center’s Outdoor Adventure team worked quickly to arrange water coolers and s’mores supplies. A laptop was set up nearby to play music, and the wood in the fire pit was finally set with a rolling orange flame.
By the time it became dark on this side of campus, a dozen students were already standing around the fire pit, roasting or burning their marshmallows on yard-long wooden sticks despite the unseasonably warm 78-degree weather. Satisfied, Marli Dinovitzer, an undeclared freshman, exclaimed, “That was a great s’more!”
This was the first time that Dinovitzer had attended a Friday Fire Pit event, co-sponsored by Campus Recreation and the Fire Department. The weekly event began this semester after the popularity of the annual Homecoming Bonfire had students consistently asking for more, according to Chris Frey, a junior public health major and a trip guide for Outdoor Adventure.
The Friday Fire Pits are running every Friday night until the week of Homecoming (Oct. 22) from 7 to 9 p.m. at a mystery location around campus. Campus Recreation releases hints about the location on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram every Friday for students to follow. They also paint chalk arrows around campus to help lead students to the mystery spot.
This “scavenger hunt” approach to the fire pits is one reason that the events have had such a positive response these past few weeks, said Matthew Rivas, a junior sustainability major and the current director of Outdoor Adventure.
“We’ve been doing very well because of the social media marketing and chalk stencils,” Rivas said. “We use washable chalk to paint arrows around campus for people to follow to the mystery location.”
Frey said that, on a typical Friday night, people arrive at the mystery location early and usually stay until the event is cleaned up. “As soon as we’re ready, they’re here,” he said.
“We don’t disclose the location early, but they follow the clues.”
Dinovitzer and her friend, William Collins, an undeclared freshman, were among the crowd that arrived as soon as the fire was set ablaze. Collins had been to one other Friday Fire Pit, which was held in front of Blanton Hall.
Collins in particular enjoys the fact that Campus Recreation keeps the location a secret until that day. “I like the fact that we have to find it. I followed the spray-painted arrows around campus,” he said. “Just look for them They will lead you.”
Dinovitzer, on the other hand, likes the fact that she gets to meet people and eat snacks. “I think it’s very nice that we get to socialize and make s’mores together,” she said. “There’s nothing to hate about it. It’s a great way to relax after a long and stressful week.”
Campus Recreation offers make-your-own s’mores supplies, hot chocolate and cold water to students who attend the free event. Lawn games, hammocks and other items are also available to borrow for free from equipment checkout for the duration of the fire pit.
The fire pits have been more popular than anticipated, according to Rivas. Because of the positive response, he said that the event “definitely will continue” during future semesters.
Campus Recreation also offers other events and weekend trips throughout the semester. The most popular for the fall include whitewater rafting, rock climbing and the new moonlit hikes. Coming up in future weeks are also seasonal events like pumpkin painting, trips to Six Flags Fright Fest and the Harvest Festival.
For more information about the Friday Night Fire Pits or any other events, check Hawk Sync or the Campus Recreation website and social media accounts for details.