Summer Camp Before College: Inbound Program at Juniata

(Posted April 18, 2013)

Arts Inbound, one of the many retreats offered for the Inbound program at Juniata.

Juniata's Inbound program is designed to help first-year students transition to college life. The program offers around 40 "retreats" in which students are divided into groups based on their interests. During the week prior to the start of classes, these groups participate in activities in accordance to their group's interests. Natalie Hershberger, who is responsible for coordinating Inbound, gave us an inside look at the many variables that make this program possible.

Q: What is your role in Inbound? Can you touch on all of your responsibilities?

A: I was hired in October to serve as Inbound Coordinator, which is a new ancillary position for Residential Life (I also serve as the Resident Director of Sunderland Hall). Inbound started under the Office of Student Activities in 2005 with just 10 participants. By 2012, Inbound had expanded to 330 participants and had outgrown Student Activities. As Inbound Coordinator, I am responsible for all aspects of Inbound from planning and recruitment to implementation and assessment. I have hired three interns who will work with me throughout the spring and summer to plan and carry out this program.

Q: Can you explain more about what Inbound is and how it operates?

A: Inbound is a social, transitional program for Juniata's first-year students. First-year students include freshmen, transfers, and new international students. The program takes place just prior to the beginning of the fall semester (Saturday, August 17 -- Tuesday, August 20, 2013). First-year students are encouraged to participate unless they have scheduling conflicts, such as preseason training for fall sports. Participants register online and list their top retreat choices. We do our best to place all participants in one of their top three choices. Each retreat is assigned two peer leaders (returning Juniata students) and one advisor from the faculty or staff. Each retreat participates in large group activities, but spends most of their time as an individual retreat group participating in activities related to the participants' shared interests.

Q: What is the overall purpose of Inbound? How do first-year students benefit?

A: The purpose of Inbound is to bring first-year students onto campus before upperclassmen return, to give them a chance to meet their peers, establish relationship with peer leaders and advisors, and become acclimated to campus and the surrounding community before classes begin -- all while having fun. First-year students benefit from meeting others with similar interests and making additional social connections with others outside their resident halls and classes. Some participants establish friendships that last throughout their entire four years at Juniata.

Q: Can you explain the process that students must go through to become a peer leader? Where are you in the process currently?

A: Most any freshman, sophomore, or junior can apply to be an Inbound peer leader (some exceptions are fall athletes and others with scheduling conflicts during peer leader training and Inbound). We're looking for individuals who have the ability to lead small groups, serve as a positive role model, and assist first-year students in their transition into life at Juniata. Our peer leaders have been selected and assigned to a retreat. We were fortunate this year to have many qualified candidates and have a waitlist in the event more peer leader positions become available.

Q: Can you highlight some of the interesting groups this year? What are some cool activities that students will have a chance to do in Inbound?

Wilderness Adventure -- multiple retreats offered, likely to be one of our most popular -- major activities are white water rafting on the Youghiogheny River in Ohio Pyle State Park

Pop Culture -- last year visited the Andy Warhol Museum and Mattress Factory Art Museum in Pittsburgh.

Better Together (interfaith) -- brand new retreat focusing on building interfaith communities

Mighty Eagle (martial arts) -- Phil Dunwoody, associate professor of psychology teaches I think he teaches Tai Chi

Ride On (cycling) -- John Matter, professor of biology, rides the trails with the group

-Seth Ruggiero '14 Juniata Online Journalist

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Contact John Wall at or (814) 641-3132 for more information.