Exploration Adventure leaders participate in a group bonding game at Green Lakes State Park.

While incoming first-year students may have to wait until August for orientation, the excitement has already begun for some of Hamilton’s current students. Every year, new and returning leaders for each of Hamilton’s three orientation programs stay on campus for May training. Largely student driven, past leaders mentor the next generation of student leaders for the week after final exams. Although they may not know who their incoming first-year participants may be, next fall's leaders use this week to hone their leadership skills and get a taste for their respective programs.

Consisting of a wide spectrum of themed trips, the Exploration Adventure (XA) program  introduces students to a variety of new, and sometimes unusual, activities, such as beekeeping and letterpress printing. In the past, XA leaders have visited a variety of sites in central New York, including the Munson William Proctor Arts Institute in Utica and the Rosamond Gifford Zoo in Syracuse. While some XA trips may be based in cities, others may involve exploring historic sites and include light camping. Preparing for this aspect of the program, leaders spent two nights camping at Green Lakes State Park in Fayetteville and visited Ska-nohn, a Haudenosaunee Heritage Center, in Liverpool.

Though students will be traveling a few hours away from campus in August, the Adirondack Adventure (AA) spring training program kept its leaders close to home. Covering topics from bear safety to knot-tying, AA leaders spent time in the Glen House, home to Hamilton’s outdoor leadership program, and in the wooded glens on campus. The oldest orientation program, AA has introduced students to the Adirondacks by land, via mountain biking, hiking and rock climbing trips, and water, via canoeing and sea kayaking. Preparing for the latter, AA leaders spent their last day of training practicing paddling and water rescues.

The smallest of the three orientation programs, Outreach Adventure (OA) focuses on giving back to the local community and introducing students to service missions around the college. OA leaders broke into small groups and familiarized themselves with a number of different service groups engaged in youth mentoring, environmental service and construction activities. Students spent most of their time in Utica, visiting organizations including the Thea Bowman House, which works with local low-income families, and the Emmaus House, an emergency shelter for women and children. OA leaders also worked with the Masonic Care Community and Sculpture Space.

In addition to program specific training, orientation leaders spent time as a larger group covering issues such as risk management, empathy training and leadership theory. Though May training is now finished, leaders will return in early August before the Class of 2020 arrives on campus August 16, for additional training.

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