As graduation approaches, seniors enter a busy time finishing their experience at Princeton and preparing for their next adventure. Every year at this time I have a chance to follow up with graduating OA Leaders and many of them tell a similar story: Outdoor Action was one of the experiences that they value most about their time at Princeton.
When you are on campus for graduation, I hope you and your family will join us at our annual reception for OA leader graduates and their families on Sunday, May 31, between 3:00 and 5:00 p.m. in the Chancellor Green Rotunda immediately following the Baccalaureate service. It is our opportunity to thank all of the graduates for their contributions to OA and to Princeton and it’s always a wonderful occasion for the leaders to be able to introduce their family members to some of their close friends from the program.
For more than four decades Outdoor Action has transformed the orientation process for thousands of incoming students at Princeton. At the same time OA has built a unique experiential learning laboratory where students get the opportunity to practice real leadership in service to others.
The OA Frosh Trip is the largest single outdoor orientation program in the U.S. Each fall, over 700 incoming freshmen begin their Princeton experience with a five-day outdoor trip where they learn about Princeton from experienced upper-class students. Here is what one leader had to say about their experience with OA.
Through Frosh Trip, OA provides freshmen with friends and mentors, essential sounding boards during the uncertain first few months of college. Through leader training, OA allows students the opportunity to learn valuable first aid skills, to put challenging abstract group dynamics and facilitation issues into concrete terms, and to lead peers, one of the most difficult but most useful skills around. My OA experience, and therefore my Princeton experience, became more rewarding the more time and energy I committed to the program. Though this lesson (the more you give, the more you receive) may not be an accurate portrayal of all facets of life, it is incredibly refreshing and energizing to know that I was a part of such an incredible program.
Right now over 90 new student leaders are preparing to go on Leader Training Trips to develop their leadership skills so that they can help next year’s class start Princeton with a supportive experience. Here is what one freshman had to say about the impact of the Outdoor Action Frosh Trip:
Every time I walk through Blair arch I think back to my first night at Princeton, camping out in the grass before OA, and smile. Even though I had trouble falling asleep I still felt overwhelmingly excited for the adventures in store over the next week, and four years. Butterflies still ran amuck in my stomach, because even though my group seemed cool, I couldn’t yet tell how much we’d click, and Princeton in general still seemed a big mystery. Fast forward to our last night of OA in the Delaware Water Gap…I slept like a baby because over the course of OA I became completely comfortable. Physically, I grew to love living outdoors. Emotionally, I felt like an integral part of my group, as if I had a place in the Princeton community before even getting there, and had learned so much about ways I wanted to get involved in other communities once I got to campus. I can think of no better way of starting my Princeton career than OA.
Outdoor Action is the single largest and most influential student leadership development program on campus. The broad-reaching impact of the Leader Training program is evident in the myriad ways that OA Leaders enhance campus life through their involvement and leadership as RCAs, on sports teams, student government, student organizations and community service. Our Web site tells the whole OA Story and we invite you to share your feedback on how OA has benefitted your student at https://outdooraction.princeton.edu/leaders/parent-information
Every year we work to expand the depth and quality of the leadership experience we offer OA Leaders. Our long term goal for OA is to continue to expand the range of leadership development opportunities beyond OA and offer them to all Princeton students. Our annual reception for families is an opportunity for us to thank all of the OA graduates for the leaders’ families to be able to meet each other. I look forward to seeing you there.
Rick Curtis ’79
Director, Outdoor Action