Story posted August 19, 2009
The Bowdoin Class of 2013 arrived on campus Tuesday, August 25, 2009, for pre-orientation activities. Seventy percent of the students from the incoming first-year class began their Bowdoin careers with a variety of pre-orientation — or "pre-o" — trips through August 29. Some students chose adventures that took them out into the environment while others selected experiences that immersed them in their new community.
Some 350 students participated in 38 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 to introduce students to the beauty, geography and natural resources of Maine.
"The Pre-O program is an amazing opportunity for the incoming class to have a more alternative introduction to the college experience," says Benjamin Roberts-Pierel '10, student coordinator for the trips. "The transition to Bowdoin can be challenging for many, and the chance to meet and live with just a small group of fellow students at the beginning can prove invaluable in making a memorable start to their time here. Having spent a considerable amount of my life in the outdoors I would say there are few better ways to challenge people to push their comfort zone and learn something new about themselves and their fellow participants than being outside. Overwhelmingly, Pre-O turns out to be an incredible and memorable experience for students, and above all it's a blast!"
The excursions included 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.
Community Immersion Pre-Orientation
Thirty-nine first-year students explored their new environment by way of four "Community Immersion" Pre-O trips coordinated by the McKeen Center for the Common Good. The three-and-a-half day community immersion experience familiarized new students with greater Brunswick, Portland, Lewiston and nearby island communities, and served to foster a commitment to volunteerism and community service.
"I absolutely love our Community Immersion Pre-Orientation Program," says student coordinator Joelinda Coichy '11.
"It provides what I like to call a "pre-emptive Bowdoin bubble burst," because it allows participants to see and experience the great wealth of opportunities for community involvement that are accessible to them not only on, but off campus. My hope is that each student will come away from the experience with a better understanding of how rich and fruitful their time at Bowdoin can be as they engage with the surrounding community."
One group of students volunteered in the tiny island community of North Haven, about 12 miles off the coast 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 North Haven 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, and church and community center maintenance.
While their classmates volunteered in North Haven, other Bowdoin first-years spent their immersion pre-o in greater Brunswick, Portland and Lewiston.
Each day of the trip students participated in service activities loosely based around themes of outdoor/eco-service, urban issues of hunger, homelessness and affordable housing, and service with local organizations in Brunswick.
Community Immersion locations included:
The remaining members of the Bowdoin Class of 2013 arrived on campus Saturday, August 29, for orientation.
The College's 208th Convocation ceremony, which marks the official opening of the school year, will be held Wednesday, September 2.