Washington College’s signature pre-orientation program - Explore! - is a welcoming experience for first year students. Each experience is designed around a special interest area and offers dynamic, experiential activities that help students acclimate to their new environment and connect with a small group of like-minded peers.
Explore! makes the transition to college less daunting. Beginning college life with a small group endeavor facilitates a personalized welcome and sense of belonging within our Washington College community. These shared experiences often become the most fond and memorable moments students have of Washington College.
What to expect:
After moving in and saying goodbye to family, the Explore! experience begins. Each experience is unique. Some groups stay on campus, some are based off-campus. Some groups do a mix of on and off campus adventures. Selections are designed to appeal to many different interests and accommodate individual needs (dietary, mobility, stamina...). Explore! runs from Monday evening through Thursday morning. When Explore! concludes, we move right into our traditional on-campus orientation program.
Explore Sign-ups open early April. Students who have paid their deposit are eligible to register. Experiences are filled on a first come, first served basis.
Explore! Example experiences from 2022
Explore the intersection of human and environmental health with foraging, kayaking, hiking, swimming, fermentation, and forest gardening. The permaculture philosophy asserts that people can improve personal and planetary vitality by living in accord with patterns observed in nature. Learn to use all your senses to experience your place in the natural world.
In 2015, staff and students in WAC's Summer Field School in Archaeology discovered an intriguing site at a nearby farm - recovering a wealth of artifacts dating from 1680-1720. Participants will dig with us to discover what life was like for these people and how they adapted to the environment. Students will learn the basics of archaeological field and lab methods.
Who gets to decide what makes it into a museum’s collection? Whose stories are lifted up to be included on the panels, audio tours, and online displays that show us as learners what is important to know about history? Conversely, which parts of history are not on display, and why? Perhaps most importantly, what can you, as a Washington College student, do if you want to participate in how history is told in public spaces? In this orientation program, we will consider how public spaces of history, like museums, walking tours and monuments tell their stories. We will explore the local history of Chestertown, and of Kent County, by visiting local historical sites and meeting with some of our community’s great historians. We will travel to regional museums and speak with people doing behind-the-scenes work in some of our region’s most interesting museums and cultural sites. Finally, we will partner with a local museum to help them begin the process of telling their story to the wider world by digitizing objects in their collection and building a virtual museum tour.
Exploring the sounds, sights and tastes of the Eastern Shore, while learning the filmmaking process to tell stories and make original, creative works.
Spend the days on and in the water! Travel to Baltimore Aquarium to spend the day with the fishes and friends- lunch and time to explore the Inner Harbor. Head to Cape Henlopen for a day at the beach- bay side & ocean side picnic lunch and ecosystem exploration. Spend the last morning on a peaceful paddle to Radcliffe Creek and a tour of the Waterfront Campus!
Spend a few days like you're in the middle of Chesapeake Semester: tent camping at our River and Field Campus, campfire dinner, crabbing in Rock Hall, crab feast for lunch, with more time spent on the river and in good company. This program is designed to introduce you to life in the Chesapeake Semester while introducing you to some different facets of Washington College you might have missed!
Into wildlife? Love the outdoors? Ever want to know exactly who or what you're sharing your space with? Come dive in deep into surveying all the organisms residing on our River and Field Campus! Led by wildlife biologists, work on your field skills while enjoying good company, hike by moonlight while doing moth surveys, cool of in the Chester River while seeking aquatic species & fishing! There's so much to explore at RAFC and this is a great way to see it all!
Let’s play some video games! You will be introduced to the Washington College Goldstein Arena, the club’s discord, and some video game play. A potential visit to a game studio may work out depending on numbers and company availability.
Washington Interactive Gaming Society - Board Games - Tabletop RPGs - and Magic
Enjoy everything the Washington College Interactive Gaming Society has to offer. We will play some board games from our collection and welcome any new games that you bring. Ever played a tabletop Role Playing Game like Dungeons and Dragons or Masks? Why not try one! Or how about a Collectible Card Game like Magic the Gathering? All this awaits!
Guided by naturalists from our local Sultana Education Foundation, you will embark on a series of canoe trips on the Chester River. Each day will be spent exploring a different section of the river. Fishing, swimming, tromping in the mudflats, and learning about the natural history of the Mighty Chester River will keep you engaged by day. Evenings will be spent on land enjoying music and small group socials back in Chestertown. Great memories await.
Spend your days kayaking, fishing, and exploring this rural Chesapeake tributary. Your group will visit an historic tidewater nature preserve and hike along shoreline trails. Evenings will include riverside campfires and moonlit paddle outings. This three-day and two-night camping trip along the lovely Sassafras River is perfect for outdoor enthusiasts.
Calling all horse lovers. Spend your days riding, grooming, and frolicking with horses. Enjoy Eastern Shore cookouts and evenings on the beach! Riders from beginner to experienced are welcome - all you need is an interest in horses. Led by members of the Washington College Equestrian Club, focus will be on English style riding and an introduction to club and team opportunities at Washington College.
On each day of this program, Sultana Education Foundation will lead you on an exploration of a different area of the county and its unique culture. One day might take you out to Oyster Aquaculture Farm and then an exploration of the old waterman's town, Rock Hall. Another day might take you to the northeastern part of the county and the Sassafras River where you will explore small historical towns and a farm and manor house that dates to the beginning of English colonization. Another day, you will explore historic Chestertown and the surrounding areas beyond Washington College. On these outings, you will experience both the rich history and modern treasures of Kent County. This will be a wonderful opportunity to immerse yourself in your new home! Evenings will be spent on land enjoying music and small group socials back in Chestertown. Great memories await!
Navigate the Chester River with Echo Hill Outdoor School (EHOS) on their historic wooden workboats. Experience living legacies of Maryland history while on this three-day, two-night expedition, led by EHOS captains who spend much of their lives on the Chester River. Spend your days fishing, crabbing, meeting local watermen, swimming, and exploring the ecology of rural coastlines along the Chester River.
On this three-day, two-night experience with Echo Hill Outdoor School (EHOS), participants engage in a series of high-ropes elements on the Challenge Course. The Giant’s Ladder Zipline, Giant Swing, and Alpine Tower will encourage you to challenge your body and mind while discovering new things about yourself and your classmates. Tour different parts of Kent County, meet a variety of personalities who call the area home. Other activities include exploring a freshwater shrub swamp by canoe, and roasting marshmallows for s’mores over a beach bonfire. Enjoy a traditional Eastern Shore crab feast followed by a Chesapeake poetry and music performance to end your journey.
Welcome to the land (and water) of crabs, farm-to-table experiences, and local food heaven! This Explore! Orientation experience is perfect for students who are less acquainted with the Eastern Shore of Maryland. We will taste local cuisine via day trips while furthering our knowledge of local food and why it is important. You are welcome to join us on this full sensory adventure; bring your appetite and enthusiasm!
How do you expect your Washington College experience to impact you, and how will you use your experience to impact the community around you? Using the history of the Chesapeake Bay and its impact upon human life, as well as the impact of human life upon Bay ecosystems, students will participate in a variety of fun, exploratory outdoor activities throughout Kent and Queen Anne’s Counties to answer this driving question.
Sailboats, big and small, have long been a part of the working and recreational environment on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. Come learn about the history of sailing on the bay and learn the basics for recreational sailing on the Chester River. No prior sailing experience needed to enjoy this adventure.
Participants of this program will EXPLORE everything Football. Focus will include interactive activities related to the NFL and Fantasy football. This will be a great way to connect with your classmates who love the game and want to learn more about it.
Community Creativity and Connection through the Arts is what RiverArts offers. Over three days you will tour art galleries, work with clay, dabble in photography, paint “en plein air”, and gain an appreciation for the rich visual arts that abound in Kent County. Sessions will be led by the professional artists of Chestertown RiverArts, a local non-profit arts organization.
Fitness friends are the best friends. Start your college career with healthy habits. Fitness classes, weight lifting, swim time, workout tips, healthy eats and a small supportive group are what this Explore! experience is all about. If you are interested in wellness, this is the pick for you.