Camp Yale to add two new orientation programs
Two new orientation programs — LAUNCH and Yale Reserved, which respectively focus on entrepreneurship and individual reflection — will hold their inaugural sessions in the fall of 2023.
Tim Tai, Photography Editor
This fall, first-year orientation program Camp Yale will now feature two new “mid-orientation” programs focused on individual reflection and entrepreneurship, in addition to the six existing offerings.
Yale Reserved hopes to take incoming first years on a journey of self-reflection, while LAUNCH will center on entrepreneurship. These changes come after the University rebranded first-year orientation as “Camp Yale” and restructured the program to include an all-class orientation prior to the mid-orientation programs — previously known as pre-orientation programs. Last fall, first years chose between First-Year Outdoor Orientation Trips, BUILD, FOCUS, Harvest and Orientation for International Students for their mid-orientation program.
“Since all incoming undergraduates participate in Camp Yale Programs, we wanted to provide more options,” Assistant Dean of Yale College Hannah Peck wrote to the News. “Yale’s campus has so many amazing opportunities – the programs offer students a way to connect to their peers, upper-level students, and campus communities all at once.”
Dean of Yale College Pericles Lewis told the News that the overall restructuring of Camp Yale last fall — where all students moved in on the same day and attended an initial class-wide orientation — went well, but there will still be “minor adjustments” to the schedule. In addition to adding these new programs, Lewis added that the Dean’s Office is still working on designing when registration will take place for first-year students.
Peck wrote that Yale Reserved is aimed at students who enjoy “moments of solitude, low-key events, and time for reflection.” LAUNCH, the other new mid-orientation program, is organized by Yale Entrepreneurial Society and Tsai CITY, and focuses on helping incoming students make an impact through entrepreneurship, according to Peck.
Yale Reserved is being organized by Matthew Makomenaw, director of the Native American Culture Center and assistant dean of Yale College. Makomenaw wrote that he hopes the program will assist students in developing skills that will help them flourish in college, including how to articulate their needs from campus communities and “express the strengths of their quiet nature.”
“Yale Reserved will recognize those who are not inherently outgoing as contributing and valuable members of our community at Yale,” Makomenaw wrote to the News. “We will emphasize reflection, wellness, and professional and academic dialogue.”
Ten student counselors will join Makomenaw in leading the program. The student counselors will lead discussions about approaches to public speaking, advocating for oneself and building personal and professional networks.
In addition, he added that Yale Reserved will include activities such as board games, movies and reading, as well as opportunities to rejuvenate after high energy activities through wellness practices including exercise and meditation. These activities, Makomenaw wrote, are all intended to help students adjust to the intimidating and overwhelming experience that moving to Yale can be.
LAUNCH — the other new mid-orientation program — also brings new opportunities for students, though it will focus on entrepreneurship rather than self-reflection.
Grace Gerwe ’25, president of the Yale Entrepreneurial Society, wrote that YES proposed LAUNCH in July 2022 after enrollment in mid-orientation programs became mandatory for incoming students. They received official approval for the program in December.
According to Gerwe, LAUNCH attendees will get to speak with top entrepreneurs, engage in workshops on innovation, embark on day hikes or beach trips and explore Yale’s campus through a late-night scavenger hunt, along with a “giant hackathon-esque sleepover.”
“I hope [attendees] leave with the knowledge that entrepreneurship is a viable, fun and supported path at Yale and beyond, develop the courage to take more risks and think for themselves and find a supportive community of awesome people at Yale that are ready to make an impact,” Gerwe wrote to the News.
Gerwe added that LAUNCH will be using Tsai CITY’s space for their activities and collaborating with them to recruit speakers. In addition to Gerwe, Teo Dimov ’26 and Seth Goldin ’26 are working to plan the day-to-day programming, allocate the budget and hire counselors — many of which are YES members.
This past year’s Camp Yale programming culminated in Bulldog Bash.