The Hike: An Invitation to Our College Community
Looking around Grace College on the day of the Hike, you might think it’s Halloween. For this one day in August, students march around dressed as anything from Quakers to pineapples to magicians. From all across campus, you will hear the eruption of songs and chants that energize the atmosphere around you.
The Hike is part of the First-Year Experience that helps new students adjust to campus life and connect with Grace’s unique college community. As a first-year student, you will be divided into a group led by an upperclassman and a faculty mentor.
While you may hear some details about the event from your peers, the Hike is hard to imagine without experiencing it yourself. As you prepare for this one-of-a-kind event, hear from a few first-year students about their involvement in the Hike.
“My very first expectation was just a calm, long day hike within Grace College,” first-year Susan Herrmann said.
The Hike is more than a walk through campus; it’s a campus-wide scavenger hunt that ends in a competitive cardboard boat race. You and your group will work together to solve clues that will lead you to different locations on campus. Each clue you solve will give you points that you can use to buy boat-making supplies.
“It was really cool to find out that there was more to the event than just hiking,” first-year Kaylee Lehnert said. “It made it more fun and gave us more chances to work together and grow closer.”
“I was pleasantly surprised at how much our group bonded so quickly!” first-year Lizzet “Liz” Luz said. “We were able to communicate very well and had so much fun.”
As you hunt for the answers to the clues, you will learn your way around campus and the greater college community and familiarize yourself with the buildings that will soon hold your classes. Before long, you will be able to lead the way to McClain Hall with ease.
“I know pretty much where everything is now because of the Hike,” Luz said, “which helped a lot with my classes.”
When the time comes, you will work with your group to craft your boats out of supplies like cardboard and milk jugs. Between the design, the building, and the decoration, there is a job for everyone on your team.
“My favorite part had to be building the boats,” Luz said. “We all got to see the creative side in each other, and I think that was awesome.”
“The Hike taught me that it’s about working and being open to anything anybody has to say,” Herrmann said. “Also, be willing to try new things that are out of your comfort zone.”
When the race in Winona Lake finally begins, some boats make it back while staying afloat and others are dragged in pieces out of the water. No matter what, you can see smiles and cheers spread across the beach. Even upperclassmen come down to join in the excitement of the tradition and support you and the other new students.
“I saw a lot of love and laughter shared in the community,” Luz said.
At last, you walk back to campus with your new friends and dream of a good night’s sleep after a long day. Though the Hike is over, you leave with new memories of a campus tradition and a familiarity with the college community.
“I can see that Grace College definitely tries to help you feel included and welcomed,” Lehnert said. “I feel like if I went to another college I wouldn’t have gotten an experience like this.”
You can schedule a visit and see the welcoming college community of Grace College yourself!