Group: Outdoor Pursuits at Johns Hopkins University
Year Founded: 1997
Name: M.C. Berger
Position: Pre-Orientation Director, Canoeing and White Water Kayaking leader
If you ask me what my best decision has been so far at Hopkins, I think I’ll surprise you in saying that is was also one of my first. When I was a mere pre-frosh, I decided to go on one of the Pre-Orientation trips offered by Outdoor Pursuits. Going on Pre-Orientation, or PreO in Hopkins jargon, was an adventurous decision for me. To put it lightly, I was a city girl. Born in San Francisco and raised in Los Angeles, my idea of spending “a week outside” was going to the beach everyday with warm hot showers at night in a hotel.
Nevertheless, I decided that I should try something new and make some friends before I was caught in the whirlwind that is Freshman Orientation. Somehow, I not only survived, but actually loved my week in the backcountry on Canoeing and Hiking Pre-Orientation. For four days we paddled the Potomac River, and then hiked the Appalachian Trail for three days. It was the first time I had slept outside for more than a night at a time, and it was definitely the first time I went a whole week without showering. I don’t want to get all tear-jerker on you here, but I met my to be best friend and now roommate, Jen, on PreO, and I looked up to my leaders like idols. My leads told me all about what to expect from classes, dorm life, parties, etc., and each night Jen and I would get in our sleeping bags and wonder what our new lives were going to be like.
I think the best thing about PreO is that it doesn’t end when the week is over. When we got back to campus, my group got our cell phones back (finally!) and we immediately all exchanged numbers. The first few weeks of school, my leaders would check in on me regularly, asking how I liked my classes, letting me know what they would be up to that Saturday night, and telling me the best places to eat near campus. About a few weeks into school, my leaders approached me and asked if I was interested in becoming a leader myself. Had they forgotten that I was the girl who showed up in a white dress and leather boots to the first day? Well, needless to say I applied.
I was selected as a Canoeing leader, and a few months later I picked up Kayaking too. Outdoor Pursuits has become like a family to me. When people ask me why I love PreO, my answer is always the same: the people. I can go out into the backcountry any weekend, but only during that one week of the year does the PreO spirit come alive. So make the best decision you’ll make at Hopkins before you even get here, and join me and forty-six of my best friends/fellow leaders on Pre-Orientation 2012.