Penn State Freshmen Follow Wilderness Adventure on Trail to a New Life
Making the transition from home to college life can easily leave some freshman feeling lost. But Penn State freshman are finding themselves -- and a lot of new BFFs -- thanks to an innovative orientation program called the Orion Wilderness Experience.
More than 230 incoming students from Penn State campuses across the state recently spent five days hiking and camping. They finish up with a day of canoeing or "high rope adventure." And you can bet that Mom and dad can't help you out here in the woods!
According to a news release, Alanna Kaiser had never been backpacking until she signed up for the program. Kaiser suddenly found herself hiking through Rothrock State Forest.
The 18-year-old from Lancaster, Pa. says, “The first day nobody talks to each other ... At the end, we were all best friends.”
Jen Bean is the program director. She says the idea is to get students away from social media and cell phones so they can socialize with their classmates.
“We try to get them to expand their horizons and make new friends,” says Bean.
The program is now in its 18th year. It's not just hiking and fun though. Students are also required to write a paper and perform community service. For their efforts, students earn two college credits.
Kaiser, who plans to study community, environment, and development in the College of Agricultural Sciences says she's not worried about starting a new life in college. “If you can conquer the wilderness, what’s an 8 a.m. class?”