ORION program prepares incoming freshmen for college life

August 23, 2010

A few screams, some "We are Penn State!" chants, and lots of encouraging words filled the air above Stone Valley on Thursday as incoming freshmen finished up the six-day ORION program.

For five days, students participating in the two-credit course backpacked through area state forests while they worked on communication dynamics and conflict resolution to help with those times when roommates just don't see eye to eye. They learned to prepare and cook their meals and set up camps as a team. Each team had 10 students and two leaders.

On the final day, according to Jennifer Bean, ORION program director, participants had a choice of working on the ropes course run by Stone Valley or canoeing on the Bald Eagle River. Then they celebrated Thursday evening with a big cookout, where they performed skits showing what they had learned.

Bean said the students can gain a one- or two-semester advantage over other incoming freshmen by taking the course, KINES 089. Their team leaders, all upperclassmen, talk to them about campus clubs, where to laundry, and what's available on campus. That way, students start their Penn State career with some confidence.

Each participant gets a shirt to wear during ORION T-shirt day during fall semester, so freshmen and upperclassmen program graduates get a chance to meet and talk. This is the 15th year for the program.

For photos from the camp, visit http://live.psu.edu/stilllife/2315 online.

  • In this exercise, students must get eight people on one of the platforms, then move everyone to the next platform. The ORION program for incoming freshmen includes five days of backpacking through area state forests. For more photos, click on the image above.

    IMAGE: Laurie Creasy
Last Updated November 18, 2010