On Wednesday, the housekeepers did not begin the day by cleaning Bowdoin's bathrooms. Instead, they built mascots, ran races, bowled and competed in several other events for the second annual Housekeeping Olympics.
"This is a special event for [the housekeepers], our unsung heroes," Associate Director of Facilities Jeff Tuttle said.
Housekeeping Manager Joyce Whittemore, the chief organizer of the event, said the Housekeeping Olympics got her entire staff motivated for the school year. Sixty housekeepers gathered in Farley Field House at 9 a.m. and were divided into three groups of 16.
The day began with a mascot-making contest. Each team was given cleaning supplies including gloves, mops, sponges, toilet paper rolls, dusters, plungers and trash bags, which they could use however they wanted in order to create their mascots.
The Housekeeping Olympics included seven events this year, all involving cleaning supplies. For the first event of the day, the toilet paper toss, housekeepers threw rolls of toilet paper into giant trashcans with toilet seats on top.
A new event this year was bowling. The participants used rolls of toilet paper as bowling balls to knock down bottles of chemical buffers, which served as pins. Another popular event was the "sweeping" relay race, in which housekeepers had to sweep a tennis ball with a broom and pass it on to the next person on their team after circling a cone.
Housekeeper Joyce Mayer said, "At first, I felt that the Olympics were foolish, but I realized they're a lot of fun."
Housekeeper Christopher Goude said, "It's a good break from cleaning."
Some participants said that the Olympics offered more than entertainment.
Whittemore said that, "[The Housekeeping Olympics] are all about building morale."
Nancy Duffy, a representative from Proctor and Gamble, agreed that, "We have this day to experience and express camaraderie, creativity, competitiveness and team-building."
The idea of team-building extends past the Olympic events, as some housekeepers form lasting relationships with the students on their floors.
Mayer stated, "I love the students. I've always been lucky to have had a good group of kids."
The students agree that the housekeepers are a vital part of their experience at Bowdoin.
"I really appreciate everything they do," Lidey Heuck '13 said.
Skylar Walley '12 said, "[Our housekeepers] are totally our saints."
Housekeepers clean first-year dorms and on-campus housing daily. Therefore, most of their interactions are with underclassmen, who they get to know on a first-name basis, according to Duffy.
Heidi Harrison '13 said, "I thought [the housekeeper for my dorm] was one of the friendliest people I've met here. She immediately wanted to know my name."
The bond between housekeepers and students reaches a level far deeper than one of hurried hellos and smiles.
"The housekeepers become a part of your family," Tuttle said. "Over the years, I have seen really neat relationships develop."
According to students, some housekeepers often go above and beyond to make the lives of students more comfortable.
Jay Greene '13 said, "I was sick the other day and [our housekeeper] came by and brought me a Gatorade."
Students try to make an effort to express their appreciation for the housekeepers. Primo Garza '12 and his friend made a Christmas card for the housekeeper on their floor last year. Walley, who lives in Helmreich House, and the other housemembers had a breakfast with their housekeepers at the start of the year.
"If we bake something, they're always welcome to have some of it," Walley added.
Emily Graham '11 said, "The bottom line is that we really appreciate them, but we just don't do enough."