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Volunteering in College: Freshmen Orientation

Yesterday afternoon I wrapped up volunteering as a victor guide (small group leader) at my college’s 3-day freshmen orientation, and all I can think about is being able to do it again next year.

Since I listed volunteering as a must-do on my guide to having the best summer ever, and my summer technically doesn’t end until tomorrow, I thought I’d share my experience with helping out at freshmen orientation this year.

I’m going to break things up by day, so things don’t get too overwhelming.

Volunteering in College: Freshmen Orientation Edition | College with Caitlyn

Thursday

Thursday was a long and very sweaty day.

I woke up at 6:30 a.m. to report for my assignment at 7:00. I was put on move-in duty from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Those six hours were probably the greatest workout I’ve had my whole life. To get to most of the dorms you had to climb at least three flights of stairs, so we were all immediately sweaty. One girl who had been volunteering with me had worn a fit bit all day and told me that we had climbed almost 70 flights of stairs.

Honestly, I think during those six hours I was the sweatiest I have ever been. Kentucky summers are hot, but that day there was also the looming threat of a thunderstorm, so it was even more humid than normal (thank God it didn’t actually rain though).

Despite the humidity, being drenched in sweat, and not having been fed for six hours, I felt absolutely amazing the whole time. I tried to move as quickly as possible, so I could help as many freshmen move in as possible, and get them moved in as fast as possible. (That was a lot of possibles. Oops.)

At the specific dorm I was assigned to we had about 50 volunteers and I think we absolutely killed it. I’m not sure exactly how many students we helped move in, but I would guess we helped somewhere around 100 freshmen.

After I was released from move-in duty I took a much needed shower, and then I headed over to the arena to help out with convocation. I volunteered to swipe students into the event because I thought it meant I would be able to sit down……I was wrong.

I spent the next hour helping swipe in over 2000 freshmen and directing parents through the lines into the arena. During that hour I realized how fun it is to swipe cards through a reader, and thought maybe that’s why I have a shopping addiction; I love swiping my card in the machines.

I was free to go after convocation, making Thursday almost a 12 hour day of volunteering. Plus I also went to the Victor Fest event (basically a welcome week event) that night and played glow-in-the-dark ping pong, foosball, and mini golf.

Friday

This was the most important day of the weekend, so we were all up bright and early to prepare. My alarm went off at 5:30 a.m. so I had time to get ready and actually wake up before reporting for duty at 6:30.

After meeting up with my victor guide partner and getting our materials, it was off to our assigned location to await our 14 freshmen we’d be guiding around the next two days.

group balloon

We were given a balloon to carry around and mark where our group was just in case anyone got lost, and so the freshmen could always know where we were. We also got a clipboard with the days’ schedules and a roster of the kids to keep attendance at the presentations. I asked to be in charge of the clipboard because they make me feel official. For real, I wish I could carry around a clipboard every day, just like I wish I could wear a nametag everyday.

freshmen orientation

While we waited for the freshmen to start trickling in I asked Jordan (my partner) to take photos of me with our balloon (we named him Cooper), but it did not want to cooperate. I swear our balloon was broken. There was no wind, but it refused to stand up straight. I’m just confused about it as you are.

Jordan and I are both math majors so we were assigned freshmen who are also math majors, which was why our group was so small and (sadly) male dominated. I was so happy to see that we did have two girls though!

At first, the group seemed very hesitant to interact with each other, and us, but as soon as we forced them to start playing ice breakers they didn’t want to stop. Unfortunately, we had very little free time to play though.

After leading them through four different rotations, plus lunch and dinner, we took them to an event hosted by the math department: a scavenger hunt.

My partner and I were assigned to wait at one of the locations on the hunt: a statue of the university’s old mascot. There, the students had to answer a question and pose with the statue with mustache props while I took their picture. Some of them took the game really seriously and were hardcore sprinting all over campus trying to win. It filled my heart with joy to see them having fun and being competitive with each other.

I thought I’d include some of the photos from the hunt below because I found them adorable.

freshmen orientation

This was one of my favorite photos of the day, because while I took the picture the boy on the right yelled out, “Sorority squat!” If you look closely you can also see that he’s making the duck face!

freshmen orientation

This was another one of my favorites because one of the freshman boys just dropped into the splits ready for the photo. Like holy cow! That’s crazy!

Also, while stationed at the statue, a lost freshmen wandered up to us and asked for help. Her group hadn’t really explained to her what was going on and sort of just left her. Soon we were deep in conversation and giving her advice about the dorms, getting involved and Greek life. I remember telling her that I’m an introvert but I didn’t find it very difficult to get involved on campus, and in the moment I felt overwhelmed with a sense of pride. There I was talking to a girl I had never met, just like I had been doing all day, when normally I find to awkward to just wave at someone I know when I pass them on campus. Helping her out and giving her advice made me feel like I was helping a past me.

After finishing up the scavenger hunt, my volunteer hours for the day totaled up to being around 13. That doesn’t include the hour I was up before reporting for duty, or the time I spent trying to win a $50 Target gift card playing bingo at the Victor Fest event that night. (I swear everyone cheats in bingo!)

Saturday

The most chill day of the bunch, and the day we had to say goodbye….for now.

I actually got to sleep in yesterday, and I am forever grateful because if not I would have literally been a walking zombie. Running on five to six hours of sleep, and running around for 12 hours every day is not something I would recommend for a long term schedule.

I got up at 8:00 a.m. so I could get ready and just kind of relax before meeting my small group at 10:00 to get brunch in the student union. Before I left my room that morning, I drank a cup of coffee that was literally the size of a bowl of cereal. Needless to say, I was hyped up and ready to go all day long.

We put like five tables together so we could all sit together to eat, and it made me feel like I was at a family meal. It was then that I realized how attached I had grown to these freshmen and how excited I was to see them around campus all semester. I’m obsessed with them, and can’t wait to see them grow and flourish here. For real though, they’re my new favorite people.

freshmen orientation

After we finished eating we took some photos, played some more games and then attended our final two presentations of orientation. Then, I showed I helped a couple of students find their classes so that they would be ready come Monday morning.

freshmen orientation

I ended the night at the “beach” party the campus threw, where I got a caricature drawn and watched Jaws while floating in the pool on a giant duck float. No better way to end a day, and no better way to end a weekend of fun.

In the end…

I feel like I’m walking on air writing about all the fun I had these past three days. I honestly couldn’t think of a better way to ring in my sophomore year of college.

I do find this a tad strange though, because I never really used to like volunteering. I thought it was kind of boring and not really worth my time, but now I know that’s because I wasn’t volunteering for the right things. I was offering up my services for causes and events that I wasn’t passionate about, therefore I didn’t really enjoy what I was doing. Now I know that I am passionate about helping other students, and easing the transition from into college for them so they don’t feel lost like I did last year. I guess I should have made that connection a long time ago considering what I blog about. (Sometimes I’m not the brightest.)

Volunteering while you’re in college can more beneficial than just make you feel good about yourself; it can help expand your network, get you more involved, improve your resume and make you new friends.

I 100% recommend volunteering at least once through your college.

I mean I did, and I fell in love. Who knows, maybe you’ll be next.

Have you ever volunteered at a college before? Is volunteering something you do regularly? What do you enjoy volunteering for? How was your freshmen orientation? How did you spend your weekend? Let me know in the comments below!

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