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The Colgate Maroon-News

The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

Wilderness Adventure: Hiking, Canoeing and Camping Your Way into Your First-Year

Outdoor Education/Colgate University

What better way to start your Colgate experience than with a week in the wilderness, relying on a handful of people you’ve never met before to survive? 

Wilderness Adventure — or WA, as it’s affectionately known — is Colgate’s premiere pre-orientation experience, introducing students to Colgate’s unparalleled Outdoor Education program and the stunning natural landscapes of Upstate New York. There are two WA sessions and many trips at all levels of difficulty to choose from. Incoming first-years can hike, canoe, kayak, backpack and camp for a week before they officially begin their tenure as Colgate students, on trips led by Colgate’s upperclassmen.

Senior Sarah Hatchett, a member of OE and a WA trip leader, explained the structure and goals of WA trips.

“Wilderness Adventure is the biggest of all the pre-orientation trips offered by Colgate, put on by Colgate’s Outdoor Education,” Hatchett explained. “Two staff leaders lead groups of 6-10 participants into different areas of the Adirondacks for six days […] to give new students an introduction and connection to Colgate before it begins.”

First-year Ellie McGoldrick went on the Fish Creek Canoe South trip during the second session of WA. She spoke highly of the trip and emphasized how she enjoyed both the actual canoeing experience and the opportunity to make friends and learn about Colgate from her guides.

“It was a great chance to connect with other incoming students and experience the beauty of the Adirondacks,” McGoldrick said. “Some of the highlights were paddling through the narrows, stargazing and getting to see other groups! Through WA, I had the chance to ask questions and learn more about Colgate, and make connections so that I knew people going into school.”

Ryan Chun, another first-year, participated in a trip sea kayaking on Cranberry Lake. Similar to McGoldrick, he loved how his trip connected him to other first-years and helped ease the transition to being a college student.

“WA had such a positive impact on my Colgate experience,” Chun said. “I was able to meet so many great friends on this trip who are still my friends to this day. I had no idea what Colgate would be like coming into it freshman year, and WA facilitated my transition. From the get-go, everyone was very welcoming and friendly, both the leaders and fellow classmates.”

Chun continued to explain that the outdoor activities helped bring him closer to those he met on the WA trip:

“We were able to bond on a whole different level because of the intimacy of camping […] It caused all of us to have that vulnerability (like not caring about appearance, for example) that wouldn’t be replicated in any other setting.”

Chun emphasized how much fun the trip was and how much he enjoyed the little things his group did that helped them bond.

“Every night we played the game Mafia as a group, which was so fun and created a lot of inside jokes,” Chun said.“At the end of the trip, we gave ‘awards’ (not really awards), but they highlighted moments or traits that were specific to the trip.”

WA is a wonderful opportunity to meet other new students and make friends, but it is also an incredible way to learn more about the natural resources near Colgate.

“I have more of an appreciation for the wildlife around me, and I learned notions such as LNT (Leave No Trace) to respect the grounds that came before us,” Chun explained.

McGoldrick and Chun both strongly agreed that incoming first-years should consider participating in a WA trip.

“I would most definitely recommend WA to incoming freshmen,” Chun said. “Although I had never camped in my life before, I really enjoyed the whole experience because it was like nothing I had ever done before.”

McGoldrick agreed, “I would definitely recommend WA to any incoming freshman!”

Hatchett emphasized how effective WA is at building friendships and relationships between students and preparing them to start the semester with their best foot forward.

“[WA] allows students to connect to upperclassmen who can give a more rounded picture of student life and student experiences on campus,” Hatchett said. “Starting college can be extremely stressful and nerve-wracking, so getting out in the outdoors and creating connections about different things can help create connections to help students get through the first few weeks of college and sometimes even longer.”

“WA provides you with a network of people coming into campus and the first week of orientation,” Chun added. “Whether that’s friends to hang out with or grab meals with, you’ll always have a familiar face in that time of uncertainty. Even having the leaders as a resource for advice attenuated those pessimistic expectations I had going into freshman year, and they’ll always be there for you throughout the year.”

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About the Contributor
LJ Coady
LJ Coady, Baker's Dozen Editor (Fall)
LJ Coady is a junior from Houston, TX concentrating in political science with minors in history and religion. She has previously served as a writer for the Baker's Dozen, Arts & Features, News, and Commentary sections.

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