PROWLE: Enhancing the student experience

9/26/2018 3:20:18 PM

Among participants at Gros Morne National Park for this year’s Pre-Orientation Wilderness Leadership Experience (PROWLE) were: Ryan Brake, Welding Engineering Technician program; Kamren Jennings, Fish and Wildlife Technician program; Marissa Knee, Primary Care Paramedicine program; and, Faron Barnes, CNA Recreational Activities Co-ordinator; Nancy Decker, Practical Nursing program; Noralyn Blackwood, Automotive Service Technician program; and, Lenny Tiller, Community Studies program.

Students performing an ice-breaker team activity, which requires them to choose a post card, which describes their experience at PROWLE.

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 CORNER BROOK, NL - While most students were spending their last few days at home nervously packing and preparing for the start of the school year, some CNA first-year students embarked on an outdoor adventure.
With no previous wilderness experience needed – just a willingness to have fun, learn, and meet new people – six students ventured in the wilderness to participate in a three-day backpacking adventure from Aug. 27 to Sept. 1 in Gros Morne National Park.
Pre-Orientation Wilderness Leadership Experience (PROWLE) is an experiential learning opportunity aimed to help students transition to college life easier and nurtures leadership skills beyond classrooms.
Jeff Martin, CNA’s Program Developer for Experiential Education, says this is the third consecutive year they have offered the program and it continues to receive positive feedback from the participants.
“Although we had a smaller group this year, it was a very successful, fun learning experience,” said Martin. “Geared towards the group, all tasks were designed to engage an intimate connection, while focusing on team work, co-operation and other self-awareness attributes.”
Students came from all over the province: Burin, Bay St. George, Clarenville, Carbonear, Corner Book and Gander campuses. They participated in a number of team building and leadership development exercises to make connections with their peers, develop leadership skills, such as communication, problem-solving and personal reflection.
“Among the usual tasks this year, a new fun addition was a team ice breaker which used post cards that depicted different metaphors and reflected their experience in PROWLE,” Martin said. “It was a very successful activity and helped the group to share their goals and underlying reasons for participating.”
Life-changing experience
Lenny Tiller, a Community Studies student at Bay St. George campus, participated in last year’s PROWLE, and was chosen to join again this year.
“The PROWLE experience has empowered me with self-confidence, and gain some valuable communication skills to focus on my career goals,” Tiller said. . “I was fortunate to do this twice, and would strongly recommend it to every student, as you not only recognize your core strengths, you learn to overcome fears of the unknown. For some students it is moving out of their parents’ homes for the first time; for others it could be packing up and moving to a completely new town; or the nervous feeling walking through the doors of a new school where you don’t know anyone.”
According to Martin, students learn valuable skills by taking part in everyday activities. Along with cultivating leadership skills, students also develop critical life skills, such as self-reliance, accountability, communication, and it also helps with the ultimate goal of self-advocacy.
Kamren Jennings, a first-year student in the Fish and Wildlife Technician program at Corner Brook campus, describes PROWLE in just one word: “adventurous.”
“I chose this experience as I enjoy camping in the wilderness. I am taking away a great lesson in self-awareness. I learned that I do have leadership qualities, which in some situations can shine strong. I would recommend this experience to all first-year students.”
While the PROWLE journey may have come to an end, the adventure for these students has just begun as they immerse themselves in their respective programs and studies.
“Moving towards the future, we would really like to continue the tradition to integrate more second-year students to help share their insights and enhance the experience, and also partner them as mentors with their peers throughout the whole year,” said Martin.
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Minal Abhange
Public Relations Specialist
College of the North Atlantic