The best way to learn about a university is to experience it firsthand. That's what New Student Orientation is all about at Temple — giving student the opportunity to get a good feel for the university and its campuses to start their college career off right.

Now add in overnight camping, teambuilding on the Temple Ambler Low Ropes Challenge Course and night orienteering and you've got an OwlVenture!

OwlVenture is a new collaboration between New Student and Family Programs and Recreation, Outdoor Education & Wellness at Temple Ambler designed to give students the opportunity to "explore a different side of Temple University," according to Deanne DeCrescenzo. Associate Dean of Students in the Temple Division of Student Affairs.

"OwlVenture is designed for incoming first-year students. When students register for an orientation session, they will see more information about OwlVenture and the opportunity to learn more and sign up," she said. "The program aligns with several of Temple's Orientation learning outcomes — that students feel prepared and excited to be a student at Temple; that they can identify resources or opportunities — such as the Ambler Campus — that support their academic, social and personal success. We hope that the student participants make meaningful connections with other Temple students during this overnight experience."

During the new OwlVenture program, students "will build positive connections with other new Owls, develop their capacity to lead and gain perseverance for their new TU journey through participation in multiple outdoor activities," according to the program website.

According to Steve Sassaman, Assistant Director for Recreation, Outdoor Education & Wellness, OwlVenture has been developed as an "extended student orientation program that we are piloting this year, part of Temple's outdoor wellness retention initiatives that the Ambler Campus is helping to spearhead."

OwlVenture programs will take place between Thursday, June 27 and Friday, June 28 and Tuesday, July 23 and Wednesday, July 24.

"After their orientation at Main Campus, first-year students will travel out to Temple Ambler for a pool party, barbeque, night orienteering adventure and s'mores around the campfire," he said. "The next morning, they will take part in a challenge course experience and then a picnic lunch in the gardens."

According to Sassaman, students will not have to worry about setting up their own tents for the overnight camping experience — they will already be set up when they arrive.

"A lot of other universities provide an overnight experience where students can build a cohort, so they have a peer support network, they have a greater sense of belonging at the University," he said. "There is a lot of research that suggests these types of programs improve students' academic performance. Students who participate in these types of programs are also more likely to persist to graduation. We're hoping that this pilot program will go well and that we can potentially expand on it in the future."

DeCrescenzo said she hopes OwlVenture "enhances the orientation and transition experience for our incoming students."

"We hope it enables them make connections, gain confidence and get excited to start their Temple journey!" she said.

First-year students interested in participating in OwlVenture are invited to register for the program here.