Bowdoin College Pre-Orientation Trips


The night before last I was asked to spend a few hours with the incoming freshman students at Bowdoin College as arrived for their Pre-Orientation trip.  For those who aren’t familiar with that term, the “Pre-O” trip is an opportunity to spend about 5 days with a small group of fellow students off campus before the on campus orientation begins.  Bowdoin takes full advantage of being located in an incredible state like Maine and as a result, most of the Pre-O trips involve some sort of outdoor sport and service component.

Incoming students get to choose their preferred trip: for some that means sailing or kayaking through Casco Bay, for others it’s community service in downtown Brunswick and many more head north into “The County” to explore the wildlands and immerse themselves in the culture of that “other Maine” we often hear about, but so few get to truly experience.


Seeing the students arrive at Bowdoin brings it all back for me and my days as an incoming freshman.  A night spent sleeping on a field house floor, the excitement and exhaustion of meeting 300 new friends and the anticipation for all that was to come.


Camping next to the indoor triple jump lane.


A Bowdoin Tradition: sleeping in The Farley Field House.


First conversations.


The bonding happens quickly in these small groups.


Impromptu games of kickball were started.


Frisbees were everywhere.


Even a few old school woodsman’s games.


No, I did not ask for this… though I was impressed by the spontaneity of the design & construction.


After dinner there were a few brief instructions about the logistics of getting 300+ people packed and out the door beginning early the next morning.


The singing of Bowdoin’s Alma Mater.


And then there was this…


Which turned into this…


Which created a reaction like this…


And this…


Whatever “that” was I still don’t know, but it resulted in hundreds of smiling faces… and the start to an incredible four year experience at one of the best schools in the country.  On behalf of all the alums that are floating around out there, welcome to our community!


Want to see the complete photos?  Just click here or visit


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  • August 28, 2009 - 9:57 am

    Marleigh - For a group of students who are new to Maine, the college, and each other they certainly seemed at ease in theses photos. Great job capturing the moments and the natural bonding moments. The students obviously were in such a natural state and Brian did such a great job of blending in.

    These pictures are a mini documentary of this class truly coming together.

  • August 29, 2009 - 9:18 am

    Jen - These are great! The first day of college is such an exciting time.

    I heard somewhere that they’ve got a surfing Pre-O trip these days. How cool is that? Things have changed a bit since we were there… (Not everything has changed though- the fieldhouse looks just the same as the last time I saw it, way back when, at the lobsterbake on graduation day…)

    Go U Bears!ReplyCancel

  • August 29, 2009 - 10:24 am

    Malia - Welcome to Bowdoin, indeed.
    This makes me wish I’d actually gone on a pre-o trip! It looks like a ton of fun.

  • October 15, 2009 - 1:20 pm

    Christopher O'Donnell - Great shots Brian, you really captured some great moments. I found this by ways of a google search for Bowdoin. I live close-by and visited the campus yesterday to take autumn photos; it is more beautiful than I anticipated. It’s a great college and such a quintessential New England community.ReplyCancel

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