First Bound for Business Trip a Success

This fall, six first-year business students embarked on an unforgettable adventure that was two years in the making.

When Dr. Faye Gilbert joined the Maine Business School as dean in 2019, she quickly realized that outdoor recreation is one of the leading revenue generators in the state of Maine. She was introduced to Christopher Bartram, Assistant Director for Maine Bound, and the two created a plan to offer an outdoor adventure a week before school starts in the fall. It was named it Bound for Business and MBS offered it to all incoming first-year students. Maine Bound offers these types of outdoor experiences year-round for all UMaine students. What makes the Bound for Business adventure unique is that the participating students take the same Intro to Business class, and their professor accompanies students on the trip. Connections that are fostered on the trip continue into the classroom.

“Our collaboration with Maine Bound and our business faculty to deliver the first Bound for Business experience is very special to me,” says Faye Gilbert, Ph.D., Executive Dean of the Maine Business School. “Connecting the adventure of Maine prior to the start of the term with a course that will explore the business of the outdoor industry may be a lifetime memory for this cohort.”

Academic adventure

Dr. Stefano Tijerina, Lecturer in Management, volunteered to join the adventure. “I wanted to be part of this leadership initiative for our students,” Dr. Tijerina says. “I wanted to have the opportunity to engage on a one-on-one basis before the semester started.” He looked forward to building a unique, intimate learning environment similar to that experienced in the Honors College. 

“Bound for Business allows our business students to engage in an experiential learning journey through a thematic program, in this case, the outdoor market industry,” Dr. Tijerina says. “Through the journey, the students encounter leadership-building opportunities while at the same time observing, first-hand, the local and global dynamics of a particular market. This exposure generates an awareness that perhaps may not be achieved through the classroom experience, something essential for entry-level business students that do not have a clear understanding of the multiple career opportunities achievable through a business degree.”

Ciro Falanga from Connecticut had planned on taking a Maine Bound trip before the semester started. When he saw the Bound for Business trip, he knew it was the one for him. “It’s perfect!” he says. “I’m going into business, and I love nature. The fact that the Maine Business School created this trip is very motivational to me.”

The students that participated were from Maine, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, and Maryland. They moved into their residence hall early, then met up at the Maine Bound center to make sure they had packed everything they would need for a week in Maine’s backcountry. Two instructors led the group–one UMaine senior and one recent graduate. The group spent the first night at the UMaine 4-H Camp and Learning Center at Greenland Point in Princeton, Maine. They were fitted with personal flotation devices, picked out their paddles, and took a swimming test–all before a delicious pasta dinner. 

The following day they put their boats in the water and headed out for an unforgettable wilderness adventure. 

Four days on the water

Carter Selden from Maryland had never been camping before this trip. “My dad did something like this when he was in college, and he said it was pretty cool, so I thought I might give it a try,” he says. For the next four days, the crew paddled their five canoes from rustic camping spot to spot, 19 miles in total.  Each boat carried all the gear needed, including food for the trip. Students pitched in to prepare each meal and gather wood for the campfire.

“At the beginning of the trip, I didn’t think I would be able to paddle far distances,” says Olivia Peakes, one of the students from Maine. “But once we were on the water, the time passed so quickly.”  “One of my favorite moments on the trip was when we silently canoed through a small cove searching for a moose. Even though we didn’t find one, it was a very peaceful experience to listen to the nature around us without any human interruption.”

The students expressed their need to destress before starting their first semester as college students. “The Bound for Business trip gave students the chance to disconnect from their phones and daily stressors in exchange for an outdoors experience to decompress, connect, and recharge for their first year of school,” says Taylor Ashley, MBS internship coordinator.

After four days on the water, the students headed back to campus. Students had time to meet the rest of the first-year students in their resident hall as they enjoyed the first weekend of the fall semester.

“This student-led initiative contributed to the development of strong leaders, created bonds within peers, and generated the pillars for an enriched teaching and learning environment,” says Dr. Tijerina. “I am honored to have been part of this experience and curious to see how this group of leaders will develop professionally in these next four years.”