The HWS Pre-Orientation Adventure Program (POAP) kicks off this weekend as 130 members of the Classes of 2020 embark on hiking, kayaking or volunteer projects before Orientation weekend begins.
“POAP offers incoming first-years the opportunity to meet other students who have similar interests as well as meet people from diverse backgrounds who they may not have met right off the bat,” says Audrey Bates ’17, this year’s POAP coordinator. “I’m happy to be able to offer this HWS experience to the new incoming classes.”
Twelve outdoor adventure trips in the Adirondacks and Finger Lakes, on which students can opt to hike or kayak, are offered through POAP, with skill levels ranging from beginner to advanced. In conjunction with the Center for Community Engagement and Service Learning, two trips are offered for students who are passionate about engaging with the Geneva community through service and volunteerism. Students were able to choose between volunteering at Montezuma Wildlife Refuge or with the Seneca County Habitat for Humanity.
Twenty-nine POAP guides began training this week, traveling to Cornell University where they completed a high and low ropes course. Guides will spend a night camping in Ithaca’s Buttermilk Falls before first-years arrive on Sunday.
“My hope is that the students are able to get acquainted with the Colleges before Orientation weekend,” explains Bree von Bradsky ’16, the graduate intern for POAP, “and that once the time comes, they feel more comfortable with campus and their fellow students.”
Field coordinators Peter Banks ’18 and Stefani Schmitz ’17 agree that they want incoming first-year students to be comfortable with campus and all that it has to offer. Banks wants students to “gain perspective from their guides,” and “come back with a group of friends ready for the academic year.”
“I want them to have a sense of place and to feel at home here,” emphasizing that she hopes the incoming classes “grow to love campus as much as I do.” Schmitz says.
Assistant Hobart Dean David Mapstone ’93, who has served as director of POAP since it was founded in 2007, says POAP helps students make the transition from high school to college. “This program allows students to come to campus in smaller and more intimate groups so they can ease into making friendships and developing relationships with upper-class students and their own peers before the start of Orientation.”