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McKeen Center and BOC plan for return of Orientation trips

March 12, 2021

Courtesy of the BOC.
making ca-new friends: Students embarked on a canoe trip with the Outing Club. Similar trips will resume this summer for Orientation.

The College expects to resume Orientation trips and activities for the Class of 2025 this upcoming fall, President Rose announced in an email to the Bowdoin community on March 4. He also wrote that similar class-building activities may be offered to the Class of 2024, which did not have Bowdoin’s typical orientation programming this past fall due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It seems like a cool way to go on an Orientation that we didn’t have, but also to help [first years] get to know each other [and] ease their worries about coming to Bowdoin,” Liliana Lines ’24 said in a Zoom interview with the Orient.

Lines hopes to volunteer as an Orientation trip leader in the fall, as well as attend activities for her class.

Lines said she thought that Orientation trips are crucial to helping first-year students transition to life at Bowdoin, and missing that experience increased the anxiety she and many other current first-year and transfer students felt when acclimating to their new community.

“I think it would have just given me more of a sense of security—like, ‘oh, yeah, I already know these people. I can get lunch with them; go study with them,’” Lines said.

However, students remain apprehensive about the College’s current plans. The disappointments of the past year are still preventing many from feeling too optimistic about volunteering to lead or signing up to attend potential Orientation activities.

“I mean, honestly, I’m not getting my hopes up. [If it doesn’t happen] I would just be like, ‘okay, it’s just another thing the Class of ’24 didn’t get added to the list [for],’” Lines said.

Courtesy of the BOC.
warm memories: A group of students laughs around a campfire on a BOC trip.

Despite this anticipated potential for disappointment expressed by many first-year students, Bowdoin Outing Club (BOC) Associate Director Anna Bastidas and Associate Director of the McKeen Center for the Common Good Tom Ancona are working to select volunteers for each organization’s respective trips, as well as figure out what will be realistic for the fall.

“A primary concern for the McKeen Center, even in non-pandemic times, is figuring out if [we] might have a positive or negative impact on a community through our work,” Ancona wrote in an email to the Orient. “In the latter stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, this concern becomes an even more urgent question, and we do anticipate that some partners in more vulnerable communities may decide that it would be best to wait another year.”

Bastidas similarly voiced the need to ensure that safety measures are taken into account, regardless of activity location.

“From the BOC perspective, we’re fortunate in that our trips occur outdoors and in small designated groups. We’ll, of course, need to align our program with the COVID-19 protocols for both the state and the College when planning our trips—and so, again, [we] will develop contingency plans should things evolve over the course of the summer,” Bastidas wrote.

Bastidas and Ancona are currently in the process of selecting the 150 student leaders needed for the Orientation trip teams—120 people to be part of the BOC Orientation trip team and around 30 to be involved in the McKeen Center Orientation trip team.

Though many details remain uncertain, there is still optimism brewing about the fall.

“Planning is only a few weeks behind schedule because we needed to have a better idea of what the summer may bring,” Ancona wrote. “Now that the College has released more concrete plans for the summer and expectations for the fall, we can more confidently move forward.”

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