The Discovery Program Creates New Connections to Elon and Each Other for New Students
College is the beginning of many new experiences. Challenges such as living on your own, sharing a room, deciding a major, and meeting new friends aren’t always as easy as they seem. By scrambling over rocks on an 8.8 mile hike, canoeing 13 miles down a river, helping to prevent erosion, and paint bathrooms at a camp ground, 19 incoming students chose to jump start their college experience in a positive way
Elon’s Discovery Program, a first-year summer experience program of the Office of New Student Orientation, familiarizes incoming students with Elon's campus and helps them develop leadership and team-building skills before they begin in the fall. This year, the program was led by student facilitators Nick Margherita ’14 and Emily Delaplane ’14, advised by Katie Hight, director of New Student Orientation, and Karley Counts, assistant director of campus recreation.
On June 19, within minutes of arriving on campus, the students quickly learned how to trust and depend on one another while participating on the Elon low-ropes course. Here, they learned concepts that would bring them together for a positive, unified week.
The Discovery program traveled to Luray, Va., in the Shenandoah Valley and conquered the trails of Old Rag Mountain. Accompanied by their student facilitators and advisers, the group hiked nearly nine miles, working together through a rock scramble to a 3,291 foot summit, where they encountered some of the most beautiful scenery Virginia and the East Coast has to offer.
Participants also strengthened teamwork and communication skills during a 13 mile canoe ride down the Shenandoah River and explored the history of the local Luray Caverns.
Amidst developing leadership and teamwork skills, the students put these skills to work as they assisted Lake Arrowhead Recreational Park to prevent erosion around the camp sight. The students spent the day lining a ditch with rocks to allow water to move freely as well as repainting the bathhouses. During this process the students learned how to set S.M.A.R.T. goals in order to work together and accomplish a task. The students took this opportunity to learn from each other, practice necessary skills for beginning their college careers, and giving back to a campground that has been hosting the Discovery Program for ten years.
Beyond adventures through the wilderness and service, upperclassmen facilitators guided new students on discussions, ranging from involvement opportunities, the Elon Honor Code, academic rigor, and being an active contributor in the Elon Community.
Despite only spending one week with each other, the students gained trust and formed friendships that will last forever. Determination, and pushing through obstacles, helped each participant realize that even though college is a significant transition, they have peers who will be a support during their transition.
For these 19 first-year students, getting ready to start a new chapter in their life, Discovery helped ease worries about roommates, friendships, and learning about academic expectations before coming to Elon. In a way, their first glimpse at college life was a discovery, through leadership, service, discussion, and teamwork.
Discovery participants were: Matt Albers, Hannah Allen, Caroline Arnold, Alex Chir, Jordan Cottle, Trevor Fox, Jimmy Grimes, Ryan Hodges, TJ Kane, Rosie Kelley, Meg Kuhlman, Kasey Llorente, Adam Maloney, Kelsey Miner, Dustin Pfaehler Katherine Sipple, Molly Topp, Sabrina Urman, and Molly Zoellner.