11:46 A.M. SEPT. 9 UPDATE - Heavy rain moving outdoor pre-orientation activities to campus

Sept. 9, 2011 11:46 a.m.

The previously announced relocation of this year’s freshman pre-orientation Outdoor Action trips to campus due to heavy rain in areas of the East Coast was completed Thursday, Sept. 8, and all 800 freshmen and 250 student leaders on the trip have returned to the University. The students resumed program activities by participating in an Outdoor Action day of service Thursday, Sept. 8, and social and recreational events. 

The activities, which were organized by the Office of the Dean of Undergraduate Students and the Pace Center for Civic Engagement, included assembling toiletries kits for a homeless shelter and assisting with campus cleanup after Hurricane Irene. The program will conclude the evening of Sept. 9 with the Outdoor Action Frosh Dance. For more information, visit the Outdoor Action website.

Sept. 6 announcement: Heavy rain moving outdoor pre-orientation activities to campus

Heavy rain in areas of the East Coast has caused Princeton University to modify many activities of its outdoor freshman pre-orientation program, and students in affected areas are being relocated to campus.

In the wake of Hurricane Irene, some of the dozens of activities that are part of the Outdoor Action Frosh Trip were relocated from New England to Maryland, Pennsylvania and Virginia. Now, due to heavy rain in those areas, all but a handful of the activities are being relocated to Princeton.

Outdoor Action is a 37-year-old program that brings hundreds of freshmen to campus early for experiential education and bonding. "The program is carefully planned year-round, but student safety is always the highest priority, which is why we are making this series of changes," said Rick Curtis, director of the Outdoor Action program.

About 800 freshmen and 250 student leaders departed Sunday, Sept. 4, for different locations in several states. On Monday, Sept. 5, as weather conditions deteriorated, trip organizers began contacting groups of students hiking in Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut and Massachusetts, to inform them the trips would have to change. Students were directed to meeting areas to be picked up by buses and taken to hotels. Some students in the areas that received heavy rainfall sheltered in their camp areas overnight until it was safe to move to the designated pick-up locations.

Several other student groups in areas in New Jersey that have not been adversely affected by the weather are continuing their programs until the end of this week, as scheduled. Students whose trips have been shortened will complete their Outdoor Action experience through various activities on campus.

"We spend months preparing for this program each year, but Mother Nature can easily turn all those plans upside down," Curtis said. "Thanks to the work of many student volunteers, Outdoor Action leaders and a number of University offices, we have been able to coordinate the relocation successfully and ensure the safety of the students. We hope that they will continue to make new friends as they complete the program on campus."

In addition to creating bonds with their classmates, Outdoor Action participants have the opportunity to engage in diversity conversations, alcohol education, sustainability initiatives, campus citizenship and community living discussions. Prior to their departure, the students participated in picnics in each of Princeton's six residential colleges, which gave them an early chance to experience their new living conditions and to meet their college masters, staff members and residential advisers.

"The University has shown tremendous flexibility, resourcefulness and concern for the well-being of our students, while trying to provide them with a pre-orientation bonding experience," Curtis said. "Through this experience, the students, leaders and organizers have learned a lot about improvisation and overcoming adversity."

During the frosh trip, Outdoor Action operates a 24-hour command center, and a support team is available in each trip area. All groups carry a cell phone or satellite phone.

For more information, contact (609) 258-8245 or visit the Outdoor Action website.