The summer before showing up at SLU it seems that the forms are endless! Housing surveys, medical forms, blah blah blah... the list goes on. But, there is one form in particular that students should take extra care looking at and it made all the difference for my first year at SLU: choosing a First-Year Program (FYP). There are over 30 options and one of them is bound to jump out at you. For me, it was the Outdoor Studies FYP that caught my eye. Being able to go camping, hiking, canoeing, rock climbing, kayaking, all while in class earning credit? Yep, sign me up! At the time, it was the course titled, "The Outdoor State of Mind" but this year it has changed to Lose Your Phone Find Yourself.
The Outdoor Studies FYP, Beyond the Academics, introduced me to many of the incredibly unique resources on and off campus. The FYP showed me the local area around Canton as well as the Adirondack Park. It also gave me an instant group of friends that wanted to get out and explore.
The Outdoor Studies FYP was structured in a way that we would have a normal hour and a half class on Tuesdays, then on Thursdays we would have a longer four-hour class where we were introduced to how amazing our campus is. During the first week of class (when we all were still getting our bearings on campus), we went out to the Wachtmeister Field Station. There, we went over some basic camping skills, such as knot tying, building a shelter, and lighting a stove. While we were there, we also were shown the Kip and Saddlemire trails. The trail system is a 4-mile running loop that goes alone the Grasse River, through a tall grass marsh area over boardwalks, and finished down the Avenue of the Elms. It is a gorgeous trail that, because of our FYP, were aware was there from the first week on campus.
During the following weeks in class we got to see and use many of the other amazing resources on campus. We spent class time rock climbing on the Munro Family Climbing Wall, as well as canoeing the Grasse River from the Canoe Shack - both free for students to use and super accessible. As a student, you just show up and the staff will get you situated to climb, or walk to the canoe shack and grab a canoe for an hour or so.
Other resources we were introduced to were the roll clinics for whitewater kayaking offered every Thursday as well as the Equipment Room. The Equipment Room is located in the Outdoor Program and has anything and everything you need for you next adventure all available for students to borrow. As a part of the Outdoor Studies FYP, we also got off campus and introduced to the area around Canton. We spent a day at Lampson Falls, a popular spot for students to spend an afternoon swimming and hanging out on the beach.
With help from the guides from the Outdoor Program and gear from the Equipment Room, we went on two weekend overnight trips: one canoeing expedition and one backpacking trip into the high peaks of the Adirondacks. Being at school in Canton, many people don’t realize how close we are to some world-renowned recreation areas. The Outdoor Studies FYP took me and my entire FYP to the Adirondacks and encouraged us to return and explore more on our own time. As a first-year getting shown so many of the resources on and off campus was an amazing experience and gave me a base that I can only expand from.
Not only was the FYP amazing at introducing me the area but also gave me a group of people to get out and keep exploring with. I cannot say enough about the First-Year Program at SLU. When picking an FYP, pick one that truly interests you because those are the people you get to live with and oftentimes will be your best friends for the next four years.