The Orion

New nature program nurtures success skills

Gary Nelson

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Focus, preparing for the unknown and self-reliance.

These are only a handful of the skills Chico State’s incoming students can learn while participating in one of a few 4-5 day expedition-style adventures this summer. Adventure Outings is offering a newly renovated Wildcat Wilderness Orientation to make the college transition easier.

The program also offers a larger scale introduction to Chico and college life in general. The program went through some major developments this year.

Daniel Lovik was recently promoted to student coordinator for the orientation. He enjoys the freedom he has with the program’s curriculum.

“The structure of the program is currently like a big ball of clay, and I get to mold it however I want,” Lovik said.

He has planned a few trips already and is excited to partake whenever possible.

“The curriculum and length of trips were changed,” said Ellsworth Faris, previous staff leader for Chico Bound, the program replaced by Wildcat Wilderness Orientation.

“The trips are going to be a longer duration on average, as well as focusing more on actively team building and constructing that sense of community building within the group,” Faris said. “When I was doing it, the teaching was a little more passive.”

The name of the program changed as well, from Chico Bound to Wildcat Wilderness Orientation. The orientation started up again in the fall.

“One thing we didn’t like is that if you’re an incoming student, there’s a lot of information flying at you,” said Keith Crawford, assistant coordinator for Adventure Outings. “The new name gives a better idea of what it is. We also like bringing Wildcat pride into A.O.”

The old school approach to outdoor education in the 1960s was to let the mountains speak for themselves. This was the model for National Outdoor Leadership School and Outward Bound, two well-known programs which have played an important role in the curriculum-building process for Chico State.

“In the past, there wasn’t much facilitating or debriefing, but it’s evolved towards more of that,” Crawford said. “They still do speak for themselves, but we make sure that everyone hears them. That’s where the staff comes into play, especially with W.W.O.”

Along with the more guided curriculum style now in play, the program’s staff will also help facilitate discussions about living a healthy lifestyle. This will include issues of self-control in regards to alcohol and how improved self-confidence makes it less likely that students will abuse it.

In a study done by Prentice and Miller in 1993, males confronted with a discrepancy in regards to how much they drank and how much others drank increased their drinking behavior to be in line with the perceived norm, Crawford said.

The new program helps freshmen and incoming students improve their self-confidence and thus remain in better control of themselves. This topic is prevalent, especially with the current campus climate, Crawford said.

He enjoys the break from technology he gets on outdoor trips.

“Outdoors, it’s the real world, because you aren’t distracted by the same stuff we are here, by what most people are distracted by in their days and lives,” Crawford said. “When there’s no distractions, you get to be in tune with yourself, nature and those around you.”

Gary Nelson can be reached at [email protected] or @theorion_news on Twitter.

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New nature program nurtures success skills