An Ode to Pre-Trips | St. Lawrence University

An Ode to Pre-Trips

Emily Sturtevant
2018

There are fewer things more nerve-racking than starting your first year of college. You're leaving home, you're living with someone that you don't know, and you're navigating around an unfamiliar campus, all while trying to juggle making new friends and going to classes. It can be a daunting task for anyone, but here at St. Lawrence we do our best to make the transition as smooth as possible. From Orientation Leaders to the First-Year Program, students have lots of support on campus to get them used to the college life.

For some though, the transition begins before the school year even starts. First-years have the chance to sign up for an optional pre-orientation trip through the Outdoor Program. These are wilderness trips that provide students with a small, comfortable setting to get to know other first-years and have their questions answered by their upperclassmen leaders before they even get to campus. Trips are three days long with a variety of different types to choose from, including hiking, canoeing, kayaking and rock-climbing, with options for all abilities. The combination of being outdoors and in a small group allows students to connect with one another on a different level. There’s something about being engrossed in a mutual goal that creates a special bond between you and your trip mates. Students come back from their trip empowered and ready to take on their first year.

This fall, I was lucky enough to be chosen to lead one of these trips, giving me the chance to come back home to SLU early. During my trip, I spent three days and two nights kayaking and camping along Upper, Middle and Lower Saranac Lakes with some pretty cool first-year students and an amazing co-leader. This was an incredible experience for all involved. Not only did we kayak over 20 miles, portage a mile and a half, and swim every day, but we also shared lots of stories, created countless memories, and made some inside jokes. After sharing this experience together, we all became more than trip mates. We became friends.  

In my eyes this trip was a success and I don’t think I’m the only one who thinks this. When I reached out to the students on my trip about their experience, they were more than enthusiastic to tell me about how it helped them. Here's what they had to say:

“My best friends are all from the pre-trip.”

“The pre-trips put a very lighthearted vibe on moving into college.”

“The trip helped me break out of my shell early and be open to meeting new people.”

“I love seeing everyone on campus, it was great to meet some new friends before I actually started.”

“[My leaders] answered so many of my questions!”

“It gave me the opportunity to relieve some of the stress that comes with being away from home with people who would become part of my new family.”

So, don’t take it from me that pre-trips are a great experience, take it from these students. And if you are planning on coming to St. Lawrence, I urge you to think about engaging in the opportunity. I promise you won’t regret it!

Photo credit Emily Parent '18