(Posted August 13, 2007)

HUNTINGDON, Pa. -- For many Juniata College freshmen, their first college experience will not be buying books, finding classrooms or learning how to do laundry. Instead, thanks to a new orientation program called Inbound Retreats, new students will be rock climbing, dancing, making pottery, fishing, creating activities for children and a host of other activities. The Inbound program starts one week before the start of classes, Sunday, Aug. 19 and continues through Friday, Aug. 24. Students in the program are all first-year students. The program is in its second full year (there was a small pilot program in 2005), and 85 students are participating. Created by the college\'s Office of Student Activities, Inbound Retreats are designed to bring together students of similar interests in groups formed around a common activity. The cost of the program is $150. \"The top three things students are worried about when coming to college are academics, time management and making friends,\" explains Staci Weber, director of student activities. \"All the students taking part in Inbound have to focus on is making friends.\" The Inbound Retreats offer 10 programs centered around various student interests. Each program has two current Juniata students as peer advisers, and each program is advised by a Juniata faculty member or employee. The programs are: --Arts: painting, ceramics and other activities are included. --Dance: students with or without dance experience are welcome. --General Community Service: Students in this group perform service projects with agencies in Huntingdon and surrounding communities. --Big Brother/Big Sisters: Students work with little brothers/little sisters in a series of activities on the Juniata campus --Outdoor: There are Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced groups and activities include rock climbing, kayaking and other outdoor sports. --Wilderness: These activities are focused on other outdoor sports such as fishing, skeet shooting and other sports. --Women\'s Group: This group focuses on such activities as empowerment activities, yoga, herbal therapy and meetings with women community leaders. --Plexus: Directed by Juniata\'s Office of Diversity and Inclusion, this program is designed to highlight multiculturalism through diversity activities. \"Many of the retreats are organized by student clubs on campus that are associated with each area of interest,\" Weber explains. \"Each peer leader is a club member and many of the retreat advisers are advisers for the student clubs on campus. If a new student tries out these activities and loves it, then they have an open path right into one of our clubs on campus.\" Weber emphasizes that the program is designed not only to familiarize new students with Juniata\'s campus, but also to get incoming freshmen involved with Huntingdon and surrounding communities. Two Juniata student interns, Dustin Gee, a sophomore from Lawrenceville, Pa., and Sara Cieslewicz, a junior from Greenock, Pa., organized the Inbound schedules. \"Inbound will help freshmen transition into Juniata, keeping them a step ahead of their peers,\" says Cieslewicz. \"They will be able to make connections with faculty and staff, which can be a priceless asset for a productive and successful college career.\" A typical schedule includes several activities per day throughout the week. For example, the Big Brothers/Big Sisters group, which has 10 students in it, next week will take part in craft activities, cooking lessons, a bingo activity, a trip to a local tourist cave and the Huntingdon Library. Weber explains that all Inbound programs have to have at least five student participants. The majority of the participants in the program come from beyond central Pennsylvania and about 80 percent of the participants are women. The college has marketed the program at each orientation session, through e-mail, on Facebook.com, and on campus tours. Weber says the number of students participating this year almost doubled from the previous year. \"We want the students to realize that they are part of a larger community and to set their sights beyond the college campus,\" Weber says.

Contact April Feagley at feaglea@juniata.edu or (814) 641-3131 for more information.