Some 280 freshmen and transfer students participated in the College’s broadest pre-orientation program ever, fanning out across the region to explore history, culture, and the natural beauty of the Chesapeake Bay, or sticking to campus to learn everything from book arts to filmmaking.
With the help of staff, faculty, student leaders, community members, and one member of the College’s Board of Visitors and Governors, the new students chose among 26 programs in the broad categories of community and service, environment and adventure, and leadership and academics. Programs ran the gamut from the Capital Crawl—a weekend of exploring Annapolis and Washington, D.C., including a White House tour—to learning about the art and theory of permaculture, including beekeeping, foraging, and composting. Some students braved the August heat and humidity to kayak and camp along local waterways or reconnoiter the Chester River aboard the historic skipjack Elsworth, while others explored Harriet Tubman’s Underground Railroad or stayed on campus for a Maker bootcamp with 3D printers and laser cutters in IDEAWORKS.
Even College President Kurt Landgraf jumped in to participate, joining on a bike ride with students through Chestertown, as well as breakfast with students and Chestertown Mayor Chris Cerino.
Laura Johnstone Wilson, special projects coordinator in the Office of Student Engagement, says last year the College offered 11 programs, for about 130 students. The boost in programming is expected to continue next year, in an effort to have 100 percent participation from the incoming class. Nineteen staff members volunteered their time to lead the programs, along with 26 student leaders (three programs were run entirely by students) 11 faculty, five members of the Chestertown community, and BVG member Ann Horner.
“The experience was exhausting on all levels, for the students and the leaders, but it was immensely rewarding,” Wilson says. “And for the most part it accomplished our goal, which was to have these students to connect with each other through an interest they shared to form what we hope are lasting friendships.”