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Sunday January 25, 2015

Outdoor Action Capital Campaign

There are several ways in which you can make a gift to Outdoor Action:

  • Outdoor Action is part of Princeton University's Aspire Capital Campaign. You can specify that your gift should be for the Outdoor Action Program.

  • You can indicate that a portion of your Annual Giving donation should go to Outdoor Action. Gifts can be submitted online through the University's Annual Giving portal. Please indicate that your gift is to be directed to Outdoor Action (see example). You can also call the University's 24-hour gift line at: (800) 258-5421 within the United States (609) 258-3373 internationally. (The amount of your gift to OA does not count towards your Annual Giving contribution).

  • Gifts can be also made by check by completing the OA Membership & Gifts Form (or print the Adobe Acrobat version) and mailing it to the Outdoor Action Office. 
    Outdoor Action Program
    Dillon Court West
    Princeton, NJ 08544

    Gifts in the form of stocks and securities or other gifts may be transferred to the University. Please contact Rick Curtis in the OA Office, 609-258-6230 for additional information. 

A Spire - a campaign for Outdoor Action

A Spire

OA's Campaign Goals

Targeted funds from the University's Aspire Campaign will be used to create an endowment for the Outdoor Action Program. Our goal is for Outdoor Action to be able to provide positive learning and leadership development experiences for all Princeton students in a safe and properly supervised environment. The goals identified for the capital campaign for Outdoor Action are to:

1. Secure funds to maintain excellence in student leadership development

One of the most important parts of the Outdoor Action program is leadership development. Our goal is to be able to provide this important training to students for a nominal fee. Therefore funds are sought to support leadership development activities during the year, including the Leader Training Trip, workshops and training courses, first aid and Wilderness First Responder courses, and general leadership development, which prepare students to serve in leadership roles not only in Outdoor Action but across the campus as well.  

2. Provide funding to support a rich set of outdoor education programs and activities to be offered during the academic year

In order to offer a range of outdoor activities for students during the academic year, Outdoor Action needs general endowment to support activities during the academic year such as trips over breaks, day trips, community service programs for area youth, the Climbing Wall program, and outdoor skills courses like kayaking and rock climbing. These activities provide rich opportunities for student leadership development as well as community building and learning in social settings that do not involve alcohol.

3. Sustainability Initiative

Outdoor Action is in a unique position to educate students about critical Sustainability issues that face the campus and the larger society. Working in conjunction with the Princeton Environmental Institute and other departments Outdoor Action can provide curriculum to the majority of the incoming class each year. Such a program will require funds for curriculum development and implementation.

4. Equipment & Facilities

Proper equipment is essential for safe and effective operation of Outdoor Action activities. In order for all students to be able to participate, the program must be able to provide the required equipment. Currently OA is able to provide only some of the necessary gear, and students must still purchase many of the items they need. An endowment fund is sought to provide funds to replace equipment on a regular basis including canoes, backpacks, tents, sleeping bags, and climbing gear. An expansion of the new Climbing Wall to include a separate Bouldering and Teaching area would require a one-time gift.

How You Can Make a Difference!

Outdoor Action only receives a small fraction of its budget from Princeton University. The remaining funds to support the program come from student fees and from gifts from alumni(ae) and friends.

Special Funds

Growing OA's Resources for the Next 30 Years

The OA Capital Campaign will raise endowment funds to secure OA's ability to continue to offer the highest quality programs for Princeton students and local youth. You can help in a variety of ways.

How OA Makes a Difference at Princeton and Beyond

The Outdoor Action Program has become an integral part of campus life over the past twenty-five years. Thousands of students participate in the program each year and participation continues to increase. You can read more about what students, leaders, and alumni say about the impact of the Outdoor Action program. 

OA Program Activities

What began thirty years ago as a pilot project of the Dean of Student Life Office has become an integral part of campus life. Over half of all current Princeton students have participated in some Outdoor Action activity. To understand the impact of this program, you must look at the range of services it provides to the Princeton University community.

  • OA provides activities that truly build community cutting across the different groupings, which too often fragment the campus. OA brings together students from all four classes, graduate students, faculty and staff.
  • OA provides the training and opportunities for students to develop leadership skills.
  • Each year OA provides a critical orientation experience for over half of the incoming class.
  • OA provides valuable non-alcoholic group activities for students.
  • OA provides a full range of activities that are affordable for all members of the Princeton University community regardless of economic background. This includes providing both instruction and equipment for the activities.

There are a number of specific program areas within the Outdoor Action Program.

Frosh Trip Program

The Frosh Trip Program has become an essential vehicle for orienting new students to Princeton. Each year over half of the incoming class has their first exposure to university life through the Frosh Trip. The Frosh Provides an important transition experience from home and high school to college life. By helping build new friendships among new classmates and upperclass leaders the Frosh Trip helps ease this transition. Students report that they feel much more comfortable on campus and more able to focus on academics in the first semester. By mixing students across Residential Colleges, Frosh Trip participants expand their range of social contacts outside their college. OA leaders provide important information to incoming students about life on campus. Recent research shows that the Frosh Trip has a positive impact on reducing inappropriate stereotypes about campus alcohol consumption. OA is working to expand the training of OA leaders to better be able to address critical orientation issues such as alcohol, diversity, and being part of a community. Here are just a few of the overwhelming positive comments about the experience.

The Outdoor Action Program us the single most effective socially-oriented program that Princeton offers with regard to the adjustment of new students and the opportunity, throughout one’s Princeton experience, to meet other Princetonians. – Ryan Salvatore ’02

I have only been at this University for a few months, but I already call it home. This is due in large part to Princeton University’s Outdoor Action Program. Being a part of the Freshmen Trip this summer helped ease a lot of the uncertainty and confusion that accompany such an overwhelming transition, as the one from high school to college usually is. My leaders helped me feel comfortable not only in a backwoods setting, but also among eight complete strangers. With the pressure of what to wear and who to talk to out of the way, I was able to settle into myself with ease and get to know eight great people. – Anna Evans ’03

My first encounter with Princeton Outdoor Action was my Freshman Trip. Going in, I honestly had no idea of what type of people would join me at Princeton, how I should act, and whether or not the school was truly a good fit for me. From Day One, I realized that I had made the correct choice, for not only had I formed a bond with nine other students, I had already in a sense oriented myself to Princeton life through my leaders guidance and felt that my adjustment to campus life was that much smoother. – Brandon Hall ’02


Leadership Training Program

The OA Leader Training Program is the only leadership development program on campus. OA is unique in college outdoor education programs in allowing all students to participate in the benefits of the leader training program. Students must complete an extensive training program that includes training in wilderness first aid, group facilitation skills, outdoor safety, leadership and group dynamics, and backcountry living skills. This is a hands-on, experientially based training program that allows students to practice their leadership skills in the outdoors in a supervised setting. Students who participate in the program become role models for other students across the campus and utilize their OA training in other activities on campus. The ripple effects of this training to other parts of campus life cannot be overstated. Here is what a few students have to say about the OA Leader Training Program.

In evaluation my past four years at Princeton, I would attribute the greater part of my personal growth and leadership development to the Outdoor Action Program. Outdoor Action provides a type of training which would otherwise be unavailable on campus: positive character building through leadership training. While organizations such as the Undergraduate Student Government, the Student Volunteers Council, and various sports teams acknowledge the importance of leadership experiences, they do not necessarily actively train and evaluate their participant’s skills in group dynamics. As a Frosh Trip Leader, a member of the OA Executive Committee, and a leader trainer, I have learned how to build a student’s self-confidence, work cohesively with people of all ages and backgrounds, and, at the same time, maintain connections with underclassmen. – Hayley Hawes ’00

The OA leader education program is truly outstanding. The skills it teaches are truly life skills. First aid and safety, group dynamics, and outdoor survival are personal skills that I will prize forever. My experience as an OA leader has greatly facilitated that most important step in becoming a true gentleman: moving from student to teacher. – Drew Dillman ’01

I have made it through seven OA trips, four of them as a leader. Prior to my Frosh Trip, I had never been camping before. Now I am searching for outdoor education jobs and planning a through-hike of the Appalachian Trail in the summer of 2001. I have more self-confidence, more initiative, more determination. But I also have become more sensitive to others, more flexible, more compassionate and understanding. I can say without hesitation that all of all my experiences at Princeton in the last three and a half years, my participation in OA has done the most to make me a better person. – Bryan Seeley ’00

Leading turned out to be an extremely valuable experience for me. I had never led a group of students my own age before. On my Frosh Trip, I had to lead a group of 10 freshmen, who were only 1-2 years younger than me. And it was great! They respected my decisions as a leader, and did everything they could to help. And I owe a lot of the success to the leader preparation courses. They taught us how to deal and facilitate with groups and how to lead. And it really worked. I felt much more confident in the wild, and was able to share the wonderful experience of OA with 10 wonderful freshmen. The leading experience also greatly helped me in my sports career. I am a member of the women’s varsity fencing team, and I was Epée squad leader. Both the Women’s Captain and I are OA leaders, and we use many of the facilitation tactics [learned through OA] to lead the team. It is remarkable how much OA has helped us to become stronger people, and how we are constantly applying the skills we learn to everyday life. – Kristiina Hurme ’01


Trips Program

During the year OA runs a variety of trip activities ranging from one-day activities over weekends to multi-day trips over fall break, intersession, and spring break. These trips allow students to take a break from the academic demands of Princeton and to be involved in positive social interactions that do not include alcohol. For students from far way, these trips offer an affordable alternative to going home for break. OA trips focus on building positive group cooperation and interaction, teaching participants skills for living in the outdoors, and respect for the environment. Activities include backpacking, hiking, canoeing, kayaking, rock climbing, cross-country skiing, winter camping, and natural history field trips. OA also offers trip services to specific groups on campus who wish to provide activities for their members. We have offered trips for the Center for Jewish Life, the Women’s Center, the International Students Association, and the Graduate School.

Community Service Program

Since 1996 Outdoor Action has expanded its program to include community service activities. Utilizing the program’s special expertise in training student leaders and in providing adventure-based activities, OA has taken on a unique role in the community service landscape at Princeton. We are both offering our own service programs and providing our special expertise to other service groups on campus to enhance their programs. An example of a separate program is LAMP (Leadership Among Multicultural People) and group of students from Princeton High School that develops dramatic skits and presentations on issues of racism for elementary school children. OA has been providing leadership development activities and support for this program for the past four years. A new program for this year Freshmen-2-Freshmen and beyond is a joint program between Outdoor Action and Community House that matches Princeton freshmen with Princeton high school freshmen in a four-year mentoring program. Outdoor Action is providing monthly adventure challenge activities to build positive teamwork between the mentor pairs. OA also offers special service activities to other service groups. For example, the Big Brothers Big Sisters Program from Community House has brought their participants down to the OA Climbing Wall for activities. OA also has co-sponsored special training workshops on service in conjunction with the Student Volunteers Council and Community House. The area of community service is one in which there is room for considerable expansion.

Training Programs

Outdoor Action offers a range of training courses and workshops throughout the year designed to teach appropriate skills for outdoor activities. The training events range from an evening workshop to a multi-day class and include such subjects as Rock Climbing, Kayaking, Wilderness First Aid, Outdoor Safety, Animal Tracking, River Rescue and others. Such courses teach new life-long recreational skills, promote a healthy lifestyle, and bring diverse members of the university community together. These programs also provide an excellent opportunity for OA leaders to further develop their teaching style and techniques. Intermediate level courses serve to train OA leaders to a higher skill level so that they can turn around and teach basic level courses to beginners.