Champlain Student Life Wraps Up Pre-Orientation Summer Launch Trips

Throughout the summer months, Champlain College Student Life offered five 'Summer Launch' trips to incoming first-year students in the class of 2016. The purpose of these trips is for incoming students to meet a small group of their peers with the hope of forming friendships through similar interests and personal conversations about the last minute excitements and concerns before heading to College. Each trip offered something different: an outdoor adventure program, the thrill of rollercoasters, biking along Lake Champlain and enjoying what greater-Burlington has to offer, and serving communities in Montreal, Canada.

In all five trips, incoming students agreed that friendships were made and they would definitely recommend a Summer Launch Program to incoming-first year students in the future. Stephanie Goodwin of Upton, MA explained, "I honestly believe that even if an accepted student doesn't want to attend one of the summer launch programs, they should anyways. I think it's an experience you can only have once and no matter how confident you are with moving into college life or your ability to do the work and manage yourself as a young adult, the programs can only help you." She continued, "This experience and the friends I made were enough to ease any apprehensiveness I have about all the changes happening after high school."Each trip had between eight and fifteen incoming students, two to four current student leaders, and one to three staff members present. "Small groups are ideal for making real connections," said junior Marketing major Adam Rowe. "I didn't get to do a summer launch program as an incoming first-year, but I wish I did because the summer launch really provides the students a chance to experience a lot of what makes Champlain such a great community and allows them to get a step ahead in the orientation process."The five trips ran each week, Tuesday through Thursday, throughout June and July. The programs included:

  • The Ultimate Transition Experience Summer Launch Program offered incoming students a more intimate welcome to campus than the accepted student days in the spring. In this program, students were exposed to what Champlain and greater-Burlington has to offer. The group toured the Champlain campus where they learned about various resources and met a few faculty and staff members. One student noted that the most beneficial aspects of the Transition Experience were learning about campus and meeting fellow students. The group also got to explore Burlington social attractions like Pizza Put, Church Street, and they went on a local hike.
  • The Rollercoaster Extravaganza summer launch welcomed thrill-seekers from both near and far. Despite bad weather, incoming students enjoyed rides and the water park at Six Flags Great Escape in Queensbury, NY. Rollercoaster Extravaganza had the greatest number of participants at 15, and students learned not to judge others on first impressions or their choice of major, because many had unexpected common interests and were excited to continue their friendships during college.
  • During the Outdoor Adventure Program (OAP) the group of 12 incoming students and four current student facilitators stayed at The Round Hearth, a ski dorm at Stowe. The group played games and went on various hikes at Stowe. Incoming first-year Digital Forensics major Olivia Hatalsky of Sharon Springs, NY noted, "OAP has made me more confident that I will be able to find friends and my own place on campus, and has encouraged me to become a student leader (especially an Orientation Leader and/or Resident Assistant) at Champlain." As most participants wished OAP was longer than three days, Hatalsky was lucky enough to return to Champlain a week later for her second summer launch experience, Bike Vermont.
  • Spending their first afternoon in Warren, VT, Summer Launch Bike Vermont hiked to and swam at Bingham Falls, drove through the scenic Notch, and enjoyed a tour of the Ben & Jerry's Factory. On the second day students biked the Burlington Bike Path, through Colchester, the Ethan Allen Homestead and the Intervale, hesitating only for lunch at Handy's. The group then relaxed on the beach at Oakledge Park before a dinner at American Flatbread. Students had the chance to explore Church Street before reuniting with their parents to return home for the last stretch before returning to Champlain for Orientation in late August. "My favorite part of the program would have to have been visiting so many of the attractions around Burlington," said Goodwin. "I enjoyed getting to know some of the nice places relatively close to campus to go and share with others once I arrive at Champlain."
  • The Montreal Service trip began with a tour of Champlain's Montreal campus. Service began on the second morning at Welcome Hall Mission, where students compiled 400 backpacks full of donated supplies for children of the 1,000+ families the Mission serves, as well as sorting donations. That afternoon, students learned about urban gardening projects by Sustainable Concordia and Santropol Roulant. Although students expected more hands-on service work and engagement in the community, they enjoyed learning about sustainable efforts in a modern city and making new friends. "I look forward to returning to Champlain and reuniting with you all," said June Oakley of Bethany, CT. "I can't wait to see where we end up."

"Outdoor Adventure Program (OAP) was the first Summer Launch Program, beginning the summer of 2008," said Director of the IDX Student Life Center, Lisa Mazzariello. "The Class of 2012 was the first to graduate OAP participants." A group of these students approached Mazzariello while on their senior boat cruise this past May, asking for a photo together. "Their friendships really did last all four years of college. Their experiences at Champlain would not have been the same without summer launch."

To read more about the Montreal Service Summer Launch Trip, check out the blog post by student leader, Kayla Hedman at

Founded in 1878, Champlain College is a small, not-for-profit, private college in Burlington, Vermont, with additional campuses in Montreal, Canada, and Dublin, Ireland. Champlain offers a traditional undergraduate experience from its beautiful campus overlooking Lake Champlain and over 90 residential undergraduate and online undergraduate and graduate degree programs and certificates. Champlain's distinctive career-driven approach to higher education embodies the notion that true learning occurs when information and experience come together to create knowledge. Champlain College is included in the Princeton Review's The Best 384 Colleges: 2019 Edition. For the fourth year in a row, Champlain was named a "Most Innovative School" in the North by U.S. News & World Report's 2019 "America's Best Colleges,” and a “Best Value School” and is ranked in the top 100 “Regional Universities of the North” and in the top 25 for “Best Undergraduate Teaching.” Champlain is also featured in the Fiske Guide to Colleges for 2019 as one of the "best and most interesting schools" in the United States, Canada and Great Britain and is a 2019 College of Distinction. For more information, visit