Clubs and Activities
Though it may take a little time and persistence to sleuth them out, Notre Dame and the wider South Bend community offer a variety of clubs and activities to enrich your leisure time and social life, and allow you to come together with like-minded people to work for causes you believe in. Here are just a few examples of groups, organizations, and activities that some faculty have found enjoyable, both on- and off-campus.
Arts and Crafts
Studio Art Classes (formerly the Studio Arts Center) is committed to providing the South Bend-Mishawaka community with quality art education at affordable prices. The studio’s instructors present a comprehensive selection of courses for all skill levels in drawing, oil and watercolor painting, calligraphic and book arts, children’s classes and more. The studio is located on Grape Road, Mishawaka and includes an art library, easels and drafting tables, audio-visual equipment, a still-life studio, and an exhibition gallery.
Erica’s Craft and Sewing Center, five minutes from the Notre Dame campus, hosts a knitting, sewing, and embroidery clubs as well as offering a variety of classes on everything from quilting to paper crafts.
Several local textile arts guilds such as the Fiber Arts Club, the Fiberartisans, and the Riverbend Weavers’ Guild in South Bend; and Ariadne’s Threads, Elkhart County Basketweavers, and the Elkhart Knitters in Elkhart sponsor regular meetings and classes. For contact information for the Indiana textile guilds click here; for textile guilds in Michigan click here.
The Embroiderers’ Guild of America, Inc. (EGA) has a local chapter in the South Bend/Michiana area. The Draggin’ Threads (as they call themselves) are always welcoming new members – from beginners to professionals. Membership is open and anyone interested in needlework, whether a beginner or professional, are welcome.
An informal network of women associated with the area’s colleges and universities sponsors a monthly Feminist Film Night, where participants come together to watch and discuss films about women’s concerns. The group does not have a website; for more information contact Allison Stankrauf (library faculty at IUSB), telephone 574/520-4392.
The Feminist Student Union at Indiana University, South Bend promotes education and the empowerment of women and sponsors activities that encourage discussion of feminism, masculinity, and gender, with a goal to increase awareness of gender issues on the IUSB campus and in the South Bend community at large. Membership is open to both IUSB students and community members.
The Women’s Studies Program at Indiana University, South Bend sponsors numerous events throughout the year, including public forums, guest lectures, and workshops, as well as an annual undergraduate research conference.
The Center for Women’s Intercultural Leadership at Saint Mary’s College advances Saint Mary’s College’s mission of preparing students to make a difference in the world by empowering women to realize their call to leadership and to develop the intercultural knowledge and competence critical in today’s increasingly interdependent world. In the spirit of the College’s sponsors, the Sisters of the Holy Cross, the Center for Women’s Intercultural Leadership promotes human transformation and systemic change, from the local to the global context, by providing challenging, justice-based educational opportunities. The Center sponsors frequent lectures, workshops, and panel discussions.
Music and Dance
Several University of Notre Dame Music Department ensembles are open to faculty and staff as well as student participation. These include the Notre Dame Symphony Orchestra and the early music vocal ensemble Collegium Musicum.
The University of Notre Dame Women’s Liturgical Choir is a group of about 50 women who provide music for the Saturday 5 p.m. Vigil Liturgy in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. The choir is also heard at Sunday Vespers, weddings, Junior Parent’s weekend, Advent Lessons and Carols, and other special university liturgies. Each spring semester the choir tours within the United States, and at the end of the academic year it presents a concert of sacred music at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. The choir’s repertoire includes chant, renaissance polyphony, and music from the eighteenth through twentieth centuries.
Local public radio station WVPE teams up with area businesses to sponsor several outdoor musical socials during the summer months, featuring performances by local bands. Regularly recurring events include TGIF Music in the Gardens at the Northern Indiana Center for History in South Bend, Friday on the Island in Island Park in neighboring Elkhart, and Fernwood Friday at Fernwood Botanical Garden & Nature Preserve in Niles, Michigan.
The South Bend International Folk Dancers sponsor weekly dance sessions on Friday evenings that are open to dancers of all levels of expertise. They teach mostly Balkan dances (Greek and Macedonian), with a few English country dances thrown in. Most of the dances are line dances which weave around the room with everyone doing the same basic steps; the sessions are open to anyone, and no partner is necessary.
The South Bend chapter of the Holistic Moms Network is a diverse group of holistic moms (and dads) from throughout South Bend and surrounding areas who have an interest in natural health and mindful parenting. The group organizes regular hikes, playdates, and playgroups as well as Moms’ Nights Out and Daddy Dates. Grandparents, partners, and other caregivers are also welcome.
The La Leche League of South Bend holds monthly meetings at two area public library branches. Leaders are experienced mothers who have breastfed their own babies and who have been trained and accredited by La Leche League International to help mothers and mothers-to-be with all aspects of breastfeeding.
BEST at Notre Dame is a network of Notre Dame moms who are dedicated to supporting each other through the trials and tribulations of breastfeeding. The group maintains a blog and a list of go-to women who can be contacted with any questions or concerns.
The Ladies of Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s College is an organization comprised primarily of wives of male faculty, staff, administrators, and managers/directors as well as professional women serving the University of Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s College. Founded in 1934, the organization’s purpose is to promote the social, educational, and cultural welfare of its members, to foster friendship within the University/College community, and to encourage service to the University/College and local community in supportive programs. The organization offers a variety of interest groups for members such as creative cooking, morning and evening literature discussion groups, tennis, and afternoon bridge. It also sponsors a playgroup for women with preschool-aged children; for more information, contact Allison Nijim.
Science and Nature
The Michiana Astronomical Society, founded in 1974, is a group of individuals from the Michiana area who share a common interest in astronomy. During the warmer months, the society hosts star parties for member families. At each star party there is an opportunity to ask questions and view the sky through various telescopes. Members also meet monthly on the weekend before the new Moon at one of the group’s dark sky observing sites. These dark, moonless nights and remote locations provide a great opportunity to observe dim celestial wonders such as galaxies, nebulae and star clusters.
The South Bend-Elkhart Audubon Society, with about 800 members, brings bird lovers of all ages together by offering membership meetings to discuss birding issues and conservation concerns, providing field trips to local natural areas, and hosting many educational opportunities each year. The Society also owns a private bird sanctuary, which is home to many native birds and wildflowers.
The Nature Conservancy in Indiana has six project offices around the state, including (in the general vicinity of South Bend) a Southern Lake Michigan Rim Project, a Tippecanoe River Project, a Kankakee Sands Restoration Project, and an Upper St. Joseph River Project. Concerned citizens may join the volunteer program, which provides opportunities to work towards the goal of ecological health for these areas. The majority of active volunteers participate in stewardship workdays, which are held almost every weekend throughout the year.
The St. Joseph County Parks organize occasional volunteer work days to help maintain the parks’ gardens and remove weeds such as garlic mustard, a quick-spreading invasive species.
Fernwood Botanical Garden and Nature Preserve in nearby Niles, Michigan utilizes the servies of more than 250 volunteers each year; some of the volunteer positions involve maintenance of the gardens, monitoring the bluebird trail, and removing invasive plants from the prairie and preserve.
The Botanical Society of South Bend is dedicated to preserving the Ella Morris Conservatories, Muessel-Ellison Conservatory, Desert Dome, and historic Lord & Burnham greenhouses located on the southeast boundary of Potawatomi Park in South Bend, Indiana through building awareness, educational opportunities, and community partnerships.
The Michiana Peace and Justice Coalition is an organization of concerned individuals and organizational representatives living in the border region of Michigan and Indiana that advocates and promotes peace and justice. The coalition believes these terms to be mutually dependent. It supports the resolution of conflict through peaceful, legal, and diplomatic means, rather than through aggressive tactics based on the notion of “might makes right.” The coalition is not a pacifist organization but rejects all forms of military aggression, including preemptive war. The coalition believes there is a connection between war and social injustice, and it is a voice in the Michiana region critical of the current war in Iraq. Members include activists who have fought militarism for years, and individuals who have been moved to activism by the current war, young and older people, men and women, workers and professionals, students and retirees.
The Michiana Social Forum is a coalition comprised of nine groups that push for environmental, equal rights, and worker rights. Its members are committed to learning about connections between global forces and local problems and to furthering a sustainable and people-centered economy, fighting violence, exploitation, and discrimination, and advancing human rights. For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Junior League of South Bend is a member of an international organization of women committed to promoting voluntarism and to improving the community through the effective action and leadership of trained volunteers. Junior League members, reflecting a wide range of backgrounds, interests, and professional pursuits, work together to identify unmet needs, forge effective coalitions, and work for change.
Sports and Fitness
RecSports is the recreational sports and fitness division of the Notre Dame Athletics Department, open to all Notre Dame students, staff, faculty, retirees, spouses, and families. RecSports encompasses three facilities: Rockne Memorial includes an indoor pool, weight room, basketball and volleyball courts, equipment checkout, cross-country ski rentals, and climbing wall; Rolfs Aquatic Center houses a 50-meter Olympic-size pool; and Rolfs Sports Recreation Center offers a fitness room with cardio and strength equipment, three courts for volleyball, basketball, and badminton, a multi-purpose court, an 1/8-mile running track, pool and table tennis tables, equipment checkout, and more. These facilities provide numerous opportunities for unstructured, informal fitness and sports activities. The ice rink at the Joyce Center is also available for Open Skate at noontime three days a week, September through March. In addition, RecSports offers a variety of fitness programs along with a wide range of instructional programs at all levels of ability for both children and adults, including children’s swim lessons, SCUBA diving, cross-country skiing, martial arts, ballet, jazz dance, Irish step dance, Latin dance, sailing, and tennis. A new RecSports program called Even Fridays offers fun family events on Friday evenings during the summertime, including bowling, a canoe trip, a beach party, and a family bike ride.
All Notre Dame employees are eligible for discounted memberships at the following corporate health clubs and exercise programs: Curves for Women, Fitness USA, Jazzercise, Pinnacle Athletic Club, World Gym, and YMCA of Michiana.
The Michiana Bicycle Association, serving southwetern Michigan and north-central Indiana, is dedicated to the fun, safety, and enjoyment of bicycling in the Michiana area. The club offers organized informal rides in South Bend four days a week, as well as sponsoring three major tours in the area, including the 2-day Amishland and Lakes Tour through rural Indiana Amish country and southern Michigan lake country in the month of August.
The Three Oaks Spokes Bicycle Club is a non-profit bicycle touring club formed in 1974 for the purpose of promoting recreational cycling in Michiana. It is the sponsor of the Apple Cider Century Bicycle Tour in Three Oaks, Michigan, held each September, and members perform most of the duties associated with making the tour work. The club also organizes a number of smaller rides and activities throughout the cycling season (most of them are designed around food) and holds an annual Memorial Day picnic. Club rides are non-competitive and vary in length from 15 to 40 miles, and are suited for participation by all members.
The Three Oaks Bicycle Club also publishes a brochure listing twelve area Backroad Bikeways tours ranging in distance from 5 to 60 miles. The routes follow secondary routes over rushing streams and through picturesque rolling hills, patchwork farmland and beautiful meadows, parks, and forests, and bypass area attractions such as the New Buffalo Railroad Museum on the Union Pier Trail and Lake Michigan Trails. The Club’s website also provides maps for six Outback Trails that travel secondary, dirt and gravel roads through Berrien County, Michigan and LaPorte County, Indiana. The terrain is hilly and challenging and provides a good test of a rider’s skill and stamina.
The Pumpkinvine Nature Trail is a 17-mile linear park under construction on the former Pumpkinvine Railroad corridor between Goshen, Middlebury and Shipshewana in north-central Indiana. As sections of the trail are built, they are opened for biking, walking, cross-country skiing, and roller blading. The Trail project sponsors the annual Pumpkinvine Bike Ride as a fundraiser in June, which takes participants through Amish country to see such interesting sites such as an Amish bike shop, horses and buggies, farm animals in fields, flower gardens, one-room schools, a traditional-style barn, the Chief Shipshewana Monument, and a round barn.
The Northern Indiana Mountain Bike Association, serving northern Indiana and southern Michigan, is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of responsible mountain biking in northern Indiana. The organization also works to either preserve or develop environmentally responsible riding areas and promotes mountain biking through several different means, including sponsoring maintenance events, providing legal areas for members to ride, increasing access to local trails, and scheduling events for members.
The Viking Ski Club promotes individual and family interest and proficiency in skiing, organizes group skiing trips to help lower costs, provides opportunities for friendships and acquaintances among skiers of the area, and promotes club activities and trips. The club has also evolved into a year-round social club with many activities throughout the winter, spring, summer and fall, including NASTAR-type downhill racing, camping, house boating, white water rafting, canoeing, golf outings, casino trips, TGIFs, ski weekends, western and European ski trips, picnics, and bike rides. Members range in age from 18 to past 75 and comprise a mix of singles and married couples and a wide range of occupations and careers.
There are three informal running groups in South Bend. One group runs from Studebagels (telephone 574/ 277-4440) on weekends, another from the ProForm Bike-Run-Swim Shop (telephone 574/272-0129) on Saturdays, and the last from the South Bend YMCA (telephone 574/287-9622) on Tuesday evenings. The business associated with each can provide information about meeting times.
A new group, the Michiana Runners’ Association, is intended as a resource for runners of all ages and abilities in northern Indiana and southwest Michigan. The organization’s purpose is to improve the running experience in the Michiana area by uniting runners, races, and the community. Its main tasks include (1) becoming a source of communication between runners, running groups, races, and the community; (2) establishing and coordinating a local racing circuit; and (3) establishing, coordinating and supporting programs to promote the benefits of and encourage the participation in running. The MRA sponsors an 18-week training program for runners of all ability levels to prepare for the Sunburst Race in May in downtown South Bend. The association maintains an online calendar of running events in the area.
Yoga and Meditation
The South Bend Dharma Center meets monthly on Monday evenings at a private home in Granger to practice sitting and walking meditation in the Buddhist tradition. The center is 15 years old and was formerly called the South Bend Zen Group. Zen meditation also takes place at Notre Dame on Thursday evenings. Meditators from all experience levels and religious traditions are welcome.
Sacred Waters is located on the south side of Douglas Road on 4.3 acres of land, close to the Notre Dame campus. The center’s mission is to provide a spiritual center for enrichment and renewal; to nurture and promote individual spirituality; to aid individuals in the study of religion in its universal aspects; to provide an environment where individuals can learn and practice the spiritual truths of various religious philosophies; and to provide the community with a spiritual sanctuary where people can meet to worship and study. Classes, lectures and workshops include spiritual topics such as Meditation, Prayer, Tai Chi, Yoga, Native American Spirituality, Vedanta Philosophy, the Bhagavad Gita, Buddhism, St. John’s Gospel, Death and Dying, the Feminine Face of God, the New Emerging Consciousness, and the Convergence of Spirituality in East and West.
The Shakti Yoga Studio, a 10-minute drive north of Notre Dame, offers instruction in Vinyasa and Yin Yoga for mixed-level and experienced practitioners.
The Dhanwantari Center for Yoga & Well-Being in downtown South Bend honors the wisdom of the body and uses ancient therapeutic practices such as Hatha yoga, Ayurveda, meditation, massage and Reiki to promote healing and maintain a state of harmony in the mind, spirit, and body. The center’s goal is to educate the public about alternative and complementary natural approaches to health and to promote disease prevention through the ancient healing arts. A wide variety of yoga classes is offered for different needs, as well as integrative healing services and yoga teacher training.
The Tree of Life Yoga Center for Holistic Living, located in Elkart a 20-minute drive east of Notre Dame, is a small business dedicated to the larger vision of Holistic Living with consideration of the Oneness of Life. The Tree of Life Center seeks to share the wisdom found in Yoga, Ancient Ayurveda, and Reiki through offering classes, workshops and individual sessions in a retreat-like setting. The center aims to help its clients contact the divine spark within to assist in their own self-development and healing, allowing them to make conscious choices about their beliefs and lifestyles in order to participate in the creation of a compassionate world and sustainable society.