Beginning College Career with Pre-Orientation Trips

Kayaking is just one of 37 pre-o outdoor activities coordinated through the Bowdoin Outing Club.

Story posted August 17, 2007

The Bowdoin Class of 2011 arrived on campus Tuesday, August 21, 2007, for Pre-Orientation activities. Seventy-five percent of the incoming first-year class began their Bowdoin careers with a variety of pre-orientation — or "pre-o" — trips through August 25. Some students chose adventures that took them out into the environment while others selected experiences that immersed them in their new community.

Pre-Orientation Trips

Some 320 students participated in 37 trips that focused on the Maine outdoors. Put together under the direction of the Bowdoin Outing Club, the trips serve to build community and leadership among the incoming class, as well as introduce students to the beauty, geography and natural resources of Maine.

"Pre-Os are a great way for first-years to start off their first semester at Bowdoin," says Sarah Landrum '09, student coordinator for the outdoor trips. "They bond with a small group of students, as well as get to know upperclass Outing Club leaders, all while experiencing the outdoors of Maine. Sending students out into the wilderness for three nights is a great way for the students to get to know each other, as they are challenged, and put out of their element. Students always have a lot of fun on Pre-O trips, and return to Bowdoin with positive experiences and memories, as well as some new friends."

The excursions included mountain biking in Acadia National Park, backpacking the Saddleback and Mahoosic sections of the Appalachian Trail, canoeing the Penobscot River in the shadow of Mt. Katahdin and sea kayaking among the islands of Casco Bay. Students also chose trips that took them to the Bowdoin Cabin in Monson or to the Bowdoin Scientific Station on Kent Island in the Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick, Canada. Click here for a description of all the trips.

Community Immersion Activities

Instead of hiking, rock climbing or canoeing, 40 first-year students explored their new environment by way of two "Community Immersion" Pre-O activities coordinated by the Community Service Resource Center. The three-and-a-half day community immersion experience familiarized new students with greater Brunswick, Portland, Lewiston and nearby island communities, and serves to foster a commitment to volunteerism and community service.

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A Community Immersion group from the Class of 2010 at the Midcoast Hunger Prevention Program

"The Community Immersion Pre-Orientation trips are great because they give students a chance to learn about the Brunswick and surrounding communities from the moment they arrive on campus," says student coordinator Suzanne Heller '09.

"The midcoast area has many wonderful non-profits and these pre-orientation trips allow students to sample a variety organizations which many times leads to lasting service commitments with an organization they are passionate about. By participating in a Community Immersion Pre-O, students are able to begin the transformation from 'just a Bowdoin student' to an actively involved community member."

One group of students volunteered in the tiny island community of North Haven, about 12 miles offshore of Rockland in Penobscot Bay. (At 380, the year-round population of North Haven is about 80 percent the size of Bowdoin's first-year class.)

The Community Immersion trip is tailored to introduce Bowdoin students to island culture and a lifestyle vastly different from their own. Students boarded lobster boats for some hands-on experience with an activity central to the community's livelihood. Other activities included meeting with island teenagers and senior citizens, trail work, cemetery clean up and community center maintenance.

While their classmates are volunteered in North Haven, 30 other Bowdoin first-years spent their immersion pre-o in greater Brunswick, Portland and Lewiston.

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Students volunteering in the Wolfe's Neck Farm greenhouse...a structure previous Community Immersion participants helped construct.

Students spent their first day focusing on outdoor and environmental volunteer activities in the urban gardens run by Lots to Garden in Lewiston, Wolfe's Neck Farm in Freeport and Cultivating Community in Portland.

Day two they volunteered in Portland and Lewiston, working with such organizations as the Portland Housing Authority, Preble Street Resource Center and Good Shepherd Food Bank.

On their third day, students worked with some of the more than 50 non-profit organizations in greater Brunswick, including Spindleworks, Tedford Housing, Independence Association, Sweetser, Flying Changes, Midcoast Hunger Prevention Program and Volunteers of America.

The remaining members of the Bowdoin Class of 2011 arrived on campus Saturday, August 25, for orientation.

The College's 206th Convocation ceremony, which marks the official opening of the school year, will be held Wednesday, August 29.

Pictured above:
Kayaking is just one of 37 pre-o outdoor activities coordinated through the Bowdoin Outing Club.

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The midcoast area has many wonderful non-profits and these pre-orientation trips allow students to sample a variety organizations which many times leads to lasting service commitments with an organization they are passionate about
— Suzanne Heller '09