The Philosophy of BOLT

BOLT is a program uniquely designed to bring together sophomores and provide them with a shared outdoor experience and continued group activities. For many Brown students, the sophomore year is a difficult period of transition from the camaraderie of the first year to the increasing independence of the next several years. As sophomores assume greater responsibility for the direction of their college experiences, they often struggle with significant personal and academic challenges. The beginning of the year is a good time for sophomores to reflect on their first year experience, assess their strengths and weaknesses, and formulate new personal and academic goals. The year-round aspect of BOLT gives sophomores an opportunity for continued reflection and reassessment of themselves and their personal development at Brown.

This process of self-reflection and evaluation is a preliminary step in learning how to function more efficiently and to take initiative in a group setting. Brown's unique curriculum tends to attract students who are self-starters. Nevertheless, even the most individualistic students need to be able to function in a group. After the wilderness trip, the year-round aspect of BOLT allows the connections formed between individuals to be maintained and strengthened.

Within each group, participants and leaders will also explore a new understanding of leadership; leadership as a process of empowering oneself and others to action. BOLT's idea of leadership is based on the belief that everyone has the ability and potential to contribute immensely to the experiences had by the entire group. We hope to foster an atmosphere of collaborative leadership by emphasizing the importance of involving everyone in group decision-making.

Being a leader, however, is more than knowing how to work with other individuals. It also entails developing a sensitivity to the environment in which one is functioning. As participants reflect on different styles of leadership, they will also reflect on who has access to the wilderness, how different individuals conceive of their relationship to the wilderness, and ultimately what the implications of those differences are for leadership in a wilderness setting. This reflection will continue into the year, as participants interact in the campus environment and become sensitive to how these settings impact leadership and group dynamics.

Finally, we believe that what participants learn about themselves, others, and collaborative leadership is as applicable to their experience on a BOLT trip as it is to their experiences elsewhere. Our goal is to provide sophomores with an opportunity to reflect on the relationship between leadership and community and to help them identify ways in which the dynamics of a BOLT group are analogous to the dynamics of any group or community to which they belong.