An outdoors trip leading up to her first year at Brock University altered the trajectory of Lisa Brown’s life.
After registering for her first-year Outdoor Recreation classes in the summer of 2011, Brown (BRLS ’15) wanted to prepare for the transition to post-secondary life, so she enroled in Brock’s BaseCamp summer orientation program, which offers a variety of multi-day outdoor experiences, including canoeing, backpacking, rock-climbing and camping. Throughout the program, students learn more about the University and find out what it takes to make healthy choices while living away from home.
Each year, dozens of students participate in the program, which runs three- and five-day trips during the second half of August in Algonquin Provincial Park, Rattlesnake Point Conservation Area in Milton and Short Hills Provincial Park in St. Catharines.
For Brown, a rock-climbing expedition in Milton was the ideal setting to take in a lot of new information about Brock.
“Our leaders taught us to tie some cool new rock-climbing knots, but also explained everything about Brock, like what a syllabus was and what we could do if we needed help of any kind on campus,” she said. “They talked us through how the library worked and pointed us in the right direction with a lot of small, but necessary things.”
Brown said the student leaders on the trip offered helpful advice not to be intimated by University faculty.
“They let us know that our professors weren’t scary,” she said with a laugh. “They told us how to use office hours and explained that all of our professors wanted to see us succeed, which was very reassuring.”
Brown found her BaseCamp experience so helpful, she became an ambassador for the program at the University’s Fall Preview Day and Spring Open House.
“I think it was one of the most helpful and amazing opportunities I could have had before starting university,” she said. “BaseCamp was absolutely incredible and I would recommend it to any Brock student, whether they enjoy the outdoors or are new to outdoor activities.”
Basecamp is intended to enhance students’ overall experience at Brock by introducing them to new friends, providing an inclusive space for dialogue, building self-confidence and encouraging an appreciation for the natural environment.
Brown’s passion for the program, along with her Outdoor Recreation studies, combined to make her an ideal candidate to lead BaseCamp trips in her senior academic years.
“We regularly led a portage that was across a giant beaver dam,” the Mississauga native said. “Every time we went across with a group, it was fun to see how they challenged themselves and worked as a team.”
Along with the outdoor skills she was able to pass on, Brown tried to further elaborate on the University-related lessons she found to be so important on her first trip.
“I tried to teach similar lessons to what I thought was helpful,” she said. “We came up with talks about time management, places that were good to study, places you could go for help, fun spots you could go to eat, and of course, we told them not to be scared of their professors.”
Brown became BaseCamp program co-ordinator in 2016 and went on to work as a rock-climbing instructor with Escarpment Outdoor Adventures while completing a post-graduate program in Brain Disorders Management at Mohawk College. Now 25, she said that without BaseCamp, she would not be where she is today.
“The lessons I learned through BaseCamp have definitely helped me in my career,” she said. “It provided me with life opportunities and valuable long-term connections. It also gave me the chance to learn more about myself, which helped me discover what type of career path I actually wanted to follow.”
Though she won’t be along for the adventures this year, Brown hopes other Brock students encounter the same life-changing opportunities she did.
“It’s one of the most exciting experiences they will ever go on,” she said.
Anyone interested in learning more about BaseCamp, signing up for this year’s trips, or working as a trip leader is invited to visit the BaseCamp website or to email Sheena Erhardt at email@example.com