Brock is expanding an orientation program this year that will take 78 first-year students to the great outdoors.
Brock BaseCamp, offered through the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences, will see students paddling, backpacking and rock climbing at Algonquin Provincial Park and Milton’s Rattlesnake Point Conservation Area this summer. The purpose is to make friends and give students a preview about social and academic life at Brock.
BaseCamp was first offered last August. Seven incoming students and two Brock student leaders headed on a five-day canoe trip in Algonquin Provincial Park. It introduced students to wilderness travel and student life.
“University is a big scary experience, and knowing some people made it feel less big and less scary,” said student Naomi Robbins of last year’s canoe trip.
BaseCamp is the brainchild of Tim O’Connell, associate professor of Recreation and Leisure Studies, and Anna Lathrop, Associate Dean of Applied Health Sciences. It is co-ordinated by PhD student Ryan Howard.
Research into last summer’s trip shows that BaseCamp participants had greater social connections, feelings of mutual concern for their group and enhanced community values after their wilderness trip, O’Connell said. This lasted for months after the trip.
“Programs like Brock BaseCamp help students build friendships before arriving on campus and ease some of their fears about not knowing anyone at university,” he said.
American universities have been running similar outdoor programs for more than 40 years, Lathrop said.
“The research is clear: students who participate in this kind of outdoor orientation are more likely to make a smooth transition to university life, both socially and academically.”
With upper-year students participating, it adds an element of peer mentorship, Howard said, which means “we are able to effectively tackle topics such as time management, study skills, the importance of work/life balance, making healthy choices, being away from home and even where to buy the best pizza.”
Registration is open for this summer’s BaseCamp, which will run through July and August.