September 19, 2017

Gubernatorial Candidates Locked in Close Contest, UMW Survey Shows

Virginia Lt. Gov. Ralph Northam (D) and Republican nominee Ed Gillespie remain locked in a tight contest for governor of Virginia, with 44 percent of likely voters favoring Northam and 39 percent backing Gillespie in a new University of Mary Washington statewide survey. Libertarian candidate Cliff Hyra received the support of 3 percent of likely […]

Forty-four Years of Family Weekend Draws Near

With the arrival of nearly 1,000 friends and relatives on the Fredericksburg campus Friday, Sept. 15, UMW will celebrate the 44th year of the event known as Family Weekend. From the classroom to the historic sites of downtown Fredericksburg, this annual event showcases the daily life of the UMW student, while also providing a brief […]

DTLT to Host Digital Liberal Arts Series

The Division of Teaching and Learning Technologies (DTLT) will host its second annual Digital Liberal Arts series. The three-part event showcases UMW’s goal of maintaining its stance as a leader in weaving digital practices into the entire curriculum, as well as into students’ college and post-college experiences. Monthly sessions will be held in the Digital […]

Move-In Day Brings New Eagles ‘Home’

Hundreds of first-year students called UMW home for the first time this week. Move-In Day, which took place yesterday on the Fredericksburg campus, marked the official start of the fall 2017 semester. Beneath overcast skies, spirits were bright. Anticipation bubbled like the Palmieri Fountain. And nervous excitement was the mood of the day. “Move-In Day […]

Paino Unveils Vision for UMW

This morning at an all-university event, President Troy D. Paino shared his vision for UMW’s future. Faculty and staff gathered in Dodd Auditorium for the annual Opening Assembly, where Paino unveiled his plans for the University. He called the agenda, which he spent the summer drafting, a task of “enormous responsibility for a university that’s […]

UMW Professor Tapped for Top DOD Position

UMW faculty member Guy B. Roberts is poised to take a top position with the United States Department of Defense. President Donald J. Trump announced last week his intent to nominate Roberts as assistant secretary of the DOD’s nuclear, chemical and biological defense (NCBD) programs. “It is a great honor and exciting challenge to be […]

Princeton Review Ranks UMW Among Nation’s Best

The University of Mary Washington has been rated among the top in the nation by The Princeton Review, which featured UMW in its 2018 issue of “The Best 382 Colleges.” The book, now in its 26th edition, profiles only about 15 percent of America’s 2,500 four-year colleges, as well as two colleges outside the U.S. […]

Actress Sally Struthers to Speak at Leadership Colloquium

Performer Sally Struthers will be the keynote speaker at this year’s Women’s Leadership Colloquium @ UMW. The 24th annual event is set to take place on Thursday, Nov. 2, at the University of Mary Washington’s Stafford campus. Struthers rose to fame in the groundbreaking 1970s sitcom All in the Family, which held the Nielsen ratings’ […]

Ready, Set, Research

Summer session takes in-the-lab learning to new heights

SOAR Makes a Splash With First-Year Students

Members of Mary Washington’s incoming class traded tablets and cell phones for campfires and bug spray to live off the grid, so to speak, for three days and two nights.

And they loved it.

SOAR experience

More than 48 hours with no Wi-Fi, no social media. Not even showers.

“I didn’t touch my phone all day,” said Abigail Conklin, a first-year student who took part in UMW’s Summer Orientation Adventure Retreat (SOAR). “I didn’t want it. I didn’t think about it. I didn’t need it.”

Held for the first time at UMW’s Eagle Lake Outpost in Stafford County, this year’s SOAR offering was a primitive camping trip with no running water. The program complements the on-campus Orientation activities all first-year students experience and puts budding Eagles in touch with fellow freshmen and natural settings surrounding the city of Fredericksburg.

“I think it’s a really great opportunity for them,” said rising senior and camp leader Daria Fortin as she served grilled cheese sandwiches cooked on a Coleman camp stove. “Besides being outdoors and learning about camping and that kind of stuff, it’s a way for them to bond with each other.”

Part of a 600-acre collection of properties assembled by the UMW Foundation, Eagle Lake Outpost is teeming with streams, a lake filled with lily pads, camping and picnic areas, boats and a dock. The site, established a decade ago off Route 17 in Stafford County, also features four log cabins, including a science-type lab, classroom space and more. Groups of staff and alumni have gathered there over the years, along with environmental science classes for field studies and research.

But SOAR is the site’s first large-scale program, said Foundation CEO Jeff Rountree. “[We] are excited to see such enthusiasm for the Outpost, which has always been one of UMW’s best kept secrets,” he said of the two late-June sessions, which held about 15 campers each and were so popular some had to be waitlisted.

The property provided the perfect low-pressure environment for first-year students, who pitched tents and got up close with nature – frogs, turtles, bunnies and bugs, including fireflies that lit up the night. And they began to form friendships that will grow throughout their college careers.

“I thought it would be a way to make some solid friends,” said Iisak Kukkastenvehmas-Skiggs, who hails from Northern Virginia, en route from London.

Fortin and fellow camp leader Michael Middleton ’16, who’s in Mary Washington’s master’s of education program, steered the agenda. In addition to hiking and water activities, like swimming, boating, tubing and fishing, participants took part in team-building exercises, with ice breakers, campfires, picnic-style meals, sunrise yoga sessions, games and crafts.

“Most of them just finished Orientation so it’s kind of a follow-up experience,” said Graduate Assistant for Fitness and Wellness Erin Hill ’17, who helped organize the event put on by Student Involvement, with help from the offices of Campus Recreation and Orientation. “They get the chance to gather and get to know their fellow freshmen.”

The upperclassmen were on hand to answer questions about life and traditions at Mary Washington, and each session ended with a tubing trip on the Rappahannock River, followed by lunch at Old Mill Park.

“I love this group,” said first-year student Riley Gildea of Waynesboro, Virginia. “I’ve learned so much on this trip. It’s given me a window into college.”