Once upon a time, I received information for my IU Orientation. Amidst all of the important dates, times, and various other requirements, there was a little postcard with pictures of happy people and text that read “IUBeginnings.” I remember glancing at it, thinking “that’s pretty cool,” and throwing the whole packet in my desk drawer.
As orientation loomed closer, I retrieved the packet to make sure I knew all of the correct details and whatnot. That postcard jumped out at me again, and this time I decided to look on the FYE website: immediately I was interested. I spent hours reading all of the different trip descriptions and looking at photos. I told my mom I really wanted to do a trip, and she was all for it. All I had to do was pick which one.
The trips are broken down into general categories and then into specific trips:
IUBAdventurous has outdoor wilderness trips including kayaking, whitewater rafting, backpacking, rock climbing, and zorbing (rolling around in a human-sized hamster ball).
IUBEngaged focuses on community service here in Bloomington, and
IUBLeading does some fun leadership activities at Bradford Woods.
With all of the choices, I really had no clue what I wanted to do. I’ve never been to Chicago, the leadership challenge reminded me of all of the fun I had at Camp Tecumseh, and who could resist kayaking on a beautiful lake or rock climbing out in nature. After a solid week of staring at the website, I decided that I wanted to go rock climbing in Red River Gorge, Kentucky on the Roca trip. I had climbed in a gym in my home town for a decent amount of time, and the rocks were calling to me. I remember one guy who worked at my gym told me to be careful because the first time he went climbing outdoors, he loved it so much that he took a year off of school to be a climbing bum.
The day finally arrived for me to move in and leave on the trip, and I was so excited. We read through multiple waivers that mentioned the words “death” and “dismemberment” too many times, and we finally split up into two vans and hit the road.
As soon as we started driving, I knew I had made the right decision. We had four trip leaders, two in each car, and the ride down was full of non-stop hilarity. Nine students went on the trip, but the trip allowed for 12 participants. Even before we were halfway there, the four of us in my car were friends, playing catchphrase and sharing embarrassing stories.
We stayed at a nice little campground called Land of the Arches, and we were lucky enough to have toilets and showers available (a couple of the other adventure groups weren’t so lucky). We climbed every day, and every day I could feel myself getting stronger. The FYE leader also helped prepare us for Welcome Week and beyond by answering all of the questions we were afraid to ask.
The five days spent traveling and climbing helped us bond so quickly. While we aren’t the nine best friends that anyone’s ever had, five of us live in the same dorm, and I hang out with three of them regularly. Because we all have an interest in rock climbing and the outdoors in general, it was so easy to get along. Heck, we shared tents for five nights.
While the trips may sound scary or expensive, the leaders are extremely well trained, and the trips are really a bargain when you consider all of the gear and experience provided.
On the last day of the trip, all of the adventure groups came back to Brown County and had a cook-off. We learned what all of the other groups had been through (like not showering) and made fools of ourselves with funny skits and games.
The trip was such a great experience that three of us have even decided to take the leadership class required to become leaders of future IUBeginnings trips. There are also several other climbing classes I want to fit into my schedule eventually. If there’s one thing that I suggest everyone at least consider, it would be an IUBeginnings trip. There’s something for everyone, they encourage you to get out of your comfort zone, and I guarantee you’ll make at least one new friend.