Date of Award

8-2014

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Legacy Department

Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management

Advisor

Barcelona, Robert

Committee Member

Anderson , Denise

Committee Member

Anderson , Daniel

Abstract

Beginning a college career can be an intimidating and rewarding experience. New student stress can be traced back to increases in academic loads and loss of comfortable social circles and habits (Vlamis, Bell, & Gass, 2011). As a preventative measure to these stressors, universities have increased the number of orientation programs available to incoming students to help ease their transition (Vlamis et al., 2011). Some universities have also taken steps to implement outdoor experiences into their orientation offerings. These programs generally take the form of extended wilderness trips with varying goals and are increasing at a rate of approximately 10 new programs every year (Bell, Homes, & Williams, 2010). Clemson University Division of Student Affairs and Clemson Campus Recreation developed an outdoor orientation program in 2001, known as CU Outdoors, with the goal of easing the transition into university life for their incoming classes (Kafsky, 2001). However, there has been little systematic evaluation of the program to explore its effectiveness in attaining its goals. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with CU Outdoors participants from the summer of 2013 sessions. These interviews were used to explore whether or not the program is sufficiently meeting the goals set by the programmers. These goals include providing the students an opportunity to develop social groups and friendships prior to the start of classes and to prepare the students for college life. Conclusions were drawn and recommendations were made to the CU Outdoors and similar programs. The data supported the idea that the program provided the students an opportunity to develop initial social circles. However, the program did not appear to have a strong influence on the students' preparation for life at a university.

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