Long days, golden shirts, icebreakers, and being way too energetic at 8am… all of these things come to mind when thinking about the role of First yeaR Orientation Guide (FROG). But I never imagined that my experience as a FROG would have such a significant and personal impact.
For upperclassmen, 1787 August Orientation (or as some wrongfully call it, FROG Week) is usually spent poolside, enjoying the warm weather and the relaxing time before classes start. Instead, I decided to spend my week waking up before the sun, playing ships and sailors nonstop, and getting home around the same time my roommates would return from fun nights out.
I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
Our training started on a sunny Saturday afternoon inside the windowless Festival Ballroom. 250 FROGs and 30 Orientation Peer Advisors (OPAs) gathered to begin this weeklong journey together. While staring at 6:40am “go-times” and dreaded midnight checkouts, fears and regrets entered my mind. Sleep? Guess that won’t be a thing. Unpacking? Yea… it’ll have to wait. After many hours of facilitation training and campus organization presentations, I found myself in a room of 8 FROGs and 1 OPA… all a bit teary-eyed after 3 vigorous days of training and getting closer than we all expected. We were ready to change the lives of first-years and we hadn’t even meet them yet.
After two long days of move-in on East Campus in the summer heat, I was finally graced with the presence of the 26 first-years that would truly change my life for the better. I stared at their starry-eyed faces as the thoughts of independence ran through their minds. My days consisted of…
“Is this mandatory?”
“I am sick of icebreakers.”
“You were the best FROG I could ever have.”
Even with the occasional complaints, my group of first-years honestly consisted of the greatest people I have ever met at JMU. From the early morning breakout sessions to the emotional water works of We are JMU, I slowly but surely realized that these 26 new Dukes took over a special place in my heart.
Here I am. Sitting and writing on my last first day of school. Not truly having the time to process the week I just had… all of it is still a bit of a hazy blur. I never would have believed my experience as a FROG would touch me the way it did. I was expecting to help my first-years as much as I could, but never realized how much they would have an impact on me.
Being a FROG my senior year has been full circle for me. I can’t think of a better way to give back to the university that gave me so much. Sitting at 1787 events last week, my feelings were bittersweet. As a small tear rolls down my face, I think…
“Where has all of the time I thought I had gone?”
JMU 1787 is one of the best things this university offers and I would imagine it’s a significant part of JMU’s extremely high freshman retention rate. So enjoy every moment that follows 1787, new dukes. You’ve got 4 great years ahead of you. This is your college experience. Make the most of it.
Chesapeake 3b, you will always be my favorite.