The concept of adventure might conjure images of daring climbs up snowy peaks or the rushing waters of class four rapids. But for the students spending their first week on campus completing service work in and around Geneva as part of two Pre-Orientation Adventure Programs (POAP), adventure is something completely different – and no less courageous or life-changing.
“There’s not one definition for adventure,” explains Assistant Director of the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning Jeremy Wattles. “It’s still an adventure even if you’re not white water rafting, and I think that these specific POAP programs say a lot about these students; they want to come early to serve others.”
This year, CCESL is offering two programs in the Geneva area. Students will have the chance to help build a home with Habitat for Humanity, or explore environmental and sustainability issues at the Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge.
This marks the first year that incoming students will have the chance to camp and learn at the extensive Audubon center located at the nearby national wildlife refuge. The hybrid trip will have students doing important environmental service, including helping to repair trails and removing invasive species.
“We’ve been exploring ways that the Colleges could partner with Montezuma, looking for ways that our sustainability efforts on campus can overlap with our expanding environmental service efforts,” says Wattles. “When this opportunity arose, it was the perfect project – it’s a cool collaboration with a great community partner.”
Those students who will remain in Geneva to construct a house with Habitat for Humanity – the fourth year that POAP has included this in their program offerings – will also see the unique advantages of choosing an adventure a little closer to home.
First-years at the build site on Hawkins Avenue will enjoy meeting their new neighbors – the people of Geneva. “Our students working with Habitat for Humanity have been very positively received by Geneva – they’re happy to work with our students,” explains Wattles. “Last year, the students were even able to meet the family the house was being built for. It was an amazing and humbling experience.”
Students remaining in the region become familiar with Geneva and the Finger Lakes in a way many first-years will not experience so soon into their time at the Colleges.
“It’s really a great way to get plugged into Geneva as a place,” says Wattles. “Beyond just making friends through the program, they’re also in Geneva, learning from their sophomore, junior and senior classmates – particularly those in the upper classes who are interested in service and giving back to the community.”