Hey Poptropicans, we’ve got a special feature for you! Have you ever thought about bringing Poptropica to school? Meet the Poptropica Pals, an official university student club who’s managed to do just that!
The Poptropica Pals operate at the University of Rhode Island (URI) and the club has been officially recognized by their student senate since fall 2019. Check out their Instagram @uri_poptropica_pals, and read on for the PHB’s interview with the Pals to hear about their experiences!
The PHB reached out to the Pals and they graciously took the time to share a bit about their club with us. Here’s what they had to say:
PHB: Thanks for your openness in sharing! Let’s begin with the basics. What are your names, years, and majors?
Pals: The leadership of the Poptropica Pals includes: the president, Benjamin Cloutier, senior, communications major; vice president Trey DiGioia, senior, acting major; treasurer Eric Creton, junior, marketing major; secretary Athena Nakrosis, senior, directing major; and parliamentarian Mirielle Jaser, sophomore, oceanic geology major.
PHB: How did you get into the Poptropica fandom? How has your experience been?
Pals: We all started playing Potropica when when we were in elementary school, and for the most part have been keeping up and playing new islands ever since. The only poor part of our experiences has been the introduction of paid memberships, and the loss of some classic islands. Many of us are die-hard fans of Jeff Kinney and his Diary of a Wimpy Kid children’s book series, and this only serves to fuel the flame that is our love for Poptropica.
PHB: Why did you start the URI Poptropica Pals? What did the process of starting the club look like?
Pals: We needed to campaign to get our school to approve the club’s formation. This required a list of at least 10 group members, their contact information, and a list of elected members of the club’s executive board. We created a flier and started getting the word out that we wished to form a club at the University of Rhode Island.
We initially designed the club as the “K-Poptropicans,” a club to focus on both Poptropica and K-pop. However, at our initial meeting with Rhody Senate, there was another club up for review called “The K-Pop Club,” and we thought it best to rebrand and stick our club to one main theme: Poptropica. Although not the entirety of the student senate was on board, we got the majority approval and we were named an official school club (but at the lowest level). Since then, we have kept the club running and have recently been recognized as a next tier club due to the amount of time we have been an official club.
PHB: How many have joined the Poptropica Pals? How do people respond to your recruitment?
Pals: The Pals have around 35 members currently, though attendance varies. The issue with recruitment is that it is hard to get incoming freshmen to join clubs now that the COVID-19 crisis has plagued us all. We had planned to attend the club festival on the first night of term, but that was canceled and the club took a real hit as a result. We still get the occasional email or DM on our club’s Instagram, but having that club fair would have helped in gravitating new students towards our club.
PHB: What do Poptropica Pals club meetings look like?
Pals: There are three types of meetings the Poptropica Pals hold: Typical, Executive, and Outings.
Typical meetings are meetings in which the whole club is invited, and we usually meet at the campus library, although other computer labs have been used in our campus’s main building. We usually spend the first half of our meetings discussing Poptropica news and any tips or fun easter eggs our members may have found, and we often play games in the island common rooms. Customizing our characters and trading clothing items occurs during this part too.
The second half of these typical meetings usually just entails free time, where members can play through islands or talk, and eat snacks that don’t make a mess. Of course, with the virus, these meetings have decreased in attendance, but a few online gatherings have taken place in a safe, socially distant manner.
Executive meetings are those where only the executive board members are present. Here we often discuss and plan future meetings, as well as speed-run islands to try to beat personal best times. These executive meetings help bring us closer together and bond in ways that expand the sense of community and provide us with the interpersonal skills to lead the club in a collaborative environment. Snacks are always available.
Outings are our most fun meetings. Whether it’s a trip to scope out a new computer lab, or a Live-Action-Roleplay session of the end sequence from 24 Carrot Island, our outings are a way to bring the club together and deviate screen time from time we actually spend together. These meetings can often be small groups of 5–10 people, and are held both at random and at the request of a member. The Poptropica Pals aren’t just named that because of alliteration. We really are pals — and even more than that, we’re a family.
PHB: What advice do you have for other college students interested in starting their own clubs, whether for Poptropica or otherwise?
Pals: Never let them tell you no. When you’re standing before 20+ upperclassmen and trying to explain to them why your college needs a club for an online game designed for developing children, it’s easy to let them push you around, asking questions and looking down on you. The best thing you can do is stand tall with pride, and leave no doubt in their mind that this club is something that would make college better for you.
At the end of the day, even if they tell you no, DO IT ANYWAY! Even if it’s just you and a couple friends talking about Hot Wheels or eating different kinds of jelly beans. “The Hot Wheels Lovers” and “The Jelly Fellas” both sound like great clubs to me, and if it’s what makes you happy, DO IT. Even if it isn’t an official university recognized club like the URI Poptropica Pals, that doesn’t mean it’s not still a club!
PHB: Anything else you’d like to add?
Be yourself and people will like you.Jeff Kinney
We hope you enjoyed this special segment with the collegiate Poptropica Pals! Thanks again to the Pals leaders for sharing with us.
Has Poptropica been a part of your school life? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments and on the PHC Discord! For more community stories, check out the PHB’s My Place in Poptropica series.
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