Aug. 17, 2011
Emory Freshmen Take a Hike Into College
While many of their future classmates are finding their way around campus, some Emory University freshmen will throw on backpacks and hike into college life through Outdoor Emory Adventure Orientation.
The popular program gives incoming first-year students an opportunity to bond with future classmates while they camp out under the stars, raft down a river, go rock-climbing, explore caves or ride horses along scenic trails.
Nearly 300 incoming first-year students – more than 20 percent of the class – are to take part in the program, which this year includes 15 different three-day trips starting Aug. 17 (just before the kickoff of new student orientation that weekend). During the trips, students have the opportunity to make friends and learn about Emory through upperclassmen.
And no experience is required: "If you’re never done it before, it doesn’t matter. Everyone is welcome – from the beginner to the experienced. This is a chance to try something new that may turn in to something you’ll love. Many of our participants have never camped or backpacked before," says Emory junior Margaux Bratina, a co-director of Adventure Orientation, who discovered a passion for rock-climbing during her own Adventure Orientation trip.
Students have organized and run the program since 1991 when it was one of the first orientations of its kind in the country. Bratina sais OEO is exploring how to offer scholarships for Adventure Orientation so that cost is not a barrier for any student who wants to participate.
A few other colleges such as Duke, Dartmouth and the University of Washington run large-scale programs and they are growing in popularity at other schools. The OEO trips are all $210, which includes a year's membership in OEO and a T-shirt.
Although Emory is located in the Atlanta metropolis, OEO is one of the largest and most active clubs of its kind in the country; with 400-plus members, it is among the university's largest student groups. In addition to weekend trips with activities ranging from backpacking to spelunking, OEO is involved in community service, including trail cleanups and Habitat for Humanity builds.