By Mollie Higgins
For the Mitzpeh
About 30 new Terps partook in Maryland Hillel’s third annual Freshman Camping Trip on Sunday at the Greenbelt State Park in hopes of meeting new people and getting involved on campus.
This university’s Terps After Dark offered the program in partnership with Hillel, who led the camping trip. Terps After Dark’s website states it is “a collection of late-night, alcohol-free events meant to keep 1st-year students, and students new to the university engaged on-campus during the first six weeks of school.”
The students met at the Rosenbloom Hillel Center around 3 p.m. on Sunday and departed to the campsite where they then set up their tents for the night.
Edward Nusinovich, a junior math and statistics major, has led the trip for the past two years. Nusinovich said he saw something about the camping trip last year and wanted to attend, but was a sophomore. Instead, Nusinovich ended up helping lead the trip and hopes to participate again in the future.
Freshman philosophy major Aryeh Roberts said he learned about the event through Facebook and email from Hillel and excitedly signed up. Roberts said one of his favorite aspects of the trip was “meeting Jews across all denominations and connecting to them through song and conversation.”
Upon arriving at the site and after setting up the tents, the students participated in icebreakers for a few hours.
“[This] can be tedious, but if they get really involved they have more fun in the end,” said Nusinovich. The students also played some games and made s’mores, a staple to any camping trip.
Nusinovich explained that there are two main things Hillel hopes the new students will get out of this experience: the opportunity to meet new people and the exposure to Hillel.
“Getting to know people early on is something that can differentiate your experience from someone else’s,” said Nusinovich. “I met a bunch of my friends in the first couple of weeks.”
As for exposure to Jewish life on campus, Hillel provides the opportunity for freshman to explore their potential future involvement. Roberts, who hopes to add a Jewish studies major in the future, already planned on being involved when he came to campus. That is not always the case for new students.
Nusinovich explained that last year one student came on the trip who didn’t know anyone and was not super involved, but through the trip she ended up meeting people and becoming more involved in Jewish life on campus.
Talia Orencel, director of Social Justice and Engagement at Hillel and trip organizer, said many students told her afterwards that “they really enjoyed it, and they were really happy to have had the chance to meet other freshman in a small and fun setting.”
After an event-packed day of camping and socializing, the students returned back to campus Monday morning, some even feeling refreshed.
Roberts said, “Being in your own little world out in the wilderness… it was peaceful to be removed from the busyness of college life.”