The Brown Outdoor Leadership Training program, which facilitates bonding for sophomores and transfer students before classes start via backpacking trips, has drawn an increasing number of applicants each year – so much so that its organizers now want to add more groups to allow more students to participate. The program, which stopped receiving applications for this fall’s BOLT trip April 18, currently has a total of 160 spots and will celebrate its 25th trip this fall.
As the sole sophomore- and transfer-only outdoor program in the country, according to Director Shelley Adriance, BOLT is dedicated to promoting leadership and development, the environment, education and community. It trains students in outdoor leadership in preparation for a five-day backpacking trip in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.
The program “adds a really nice support system going into sophomore year” and helps alleviate anxiety during the “sophomore slump,” BOLT leader Jeremy Jacob ’12 said.
During the program, students “use the outdoors as an environment to meet new people and bond in ways that aren’t always possible on a college campus,” leader Katharine Mead ’12 said.
The program provides a “chance to find a new community and reflect on your progress so far and figure out what you want to achieve,” leader David Emanuel ’13 said. While some students who participate in BOLT have prior outdoor experience, the program is designed so that it is not necessary. “When I was a freshman, I missed trees and thought I’d apply to BOLT to meet people,” even though she had never been backpacking, Mead said.
Adriance said she would like to see more social events integrated into the program, including a “BOLTer and friend” program in which a participant can bring a friend from outside BOLT to get involved and meet others.
“A lot of friendships are made that stick,” Adriance said.
Due to Hurricane Irene last fall, BOLT participants spent the first night of the trip at Brown and then used a base camp in western Massachusetts for shorter day hikes, said Christopher Laurie ’14, a member of the program.
“BOLT leadership was really good about organizing and having a backup plan,” Laurie said.