This year I signed up for another turn as a faculty member participant in Wheaton College’s intro to college program, called Wheaton Passage. Technically, this program is a class worth two credit hours (CE 131: Introduction to Spiritual Formation), and is available to incoming freshmen and transfer students.
The program is unique. There are many similar transition-to-college programs, but Wheaton’s is the only one that has 30-40 full-time faculty members at the core of it (about 20% of the total number of faculty), who volunteer their time ahead of the busy Fall semester to serve as mentors, leaders, and guides to explore a wide range of themes and issues with assigned student groups. The program has several tracks:
- Wilderness — involves spending ten days hiking as a small group in a remote area such as on hiking trails near Lake Superior in Minnesota, or in the Apostle Islands in northern Wisconsin
- Northwoods — students in this track gather at HoneyRock, Wheaton’s Outdoor Center for Leadership Development, for about four days of small group bonding and activities
- Equestrian — students gather at HoneyRock with a focus on learning about horses, how to care for them, and how to bond with them in various activities
- Urban — this track has students spend several days at Wheaton’s Center for Urban Engagement (CUE) in the Woodlawn neighborhood of Chicago, learning about and doing outreach activities with the local community
HoneyRock as a place and as a part of Wheaton College is special to me because my in-laws live and work there full-time as unpaid volunteers, but also because I support graduate students who live and study up there full-time who are part of Wheaton’s Outdoor and Adventure Leadership degree program. As part of that, I’m responsible for the library collection housed at HoneyRock. So the faculty and staff at HoneyRock are friends and valued colleagues. In addition, my family and I enjoy spending time there, something we’ve done all our married life.
What was particularly noteworthy this year is that the library was the most well-represented department/group out of all faculty. We had four out of nine library faculty members who participated in Passage. Another interesting and positive feature of this year’s group of faculty was that in terms of gender, we were split about equally between men and women (usually, there are more male than female faculty who participate).
|Maple leaf with a striking pattern|
|Top half of a fox skull found in the woods|