The SOAR: Sustainability, Outdoor Adventure, and Recreation Floor is an intentional living-learning community rooted in the mission of Calvin residence life. We are committed to growing intellectually, spiritually, and emotionally through wilderness-based experiences, engaging conversation about environmental issues, and actively participating in environmental stewardship and sustainable living.

This community lives on the 1st floor of van Reken residence hall.

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  • Goals
    1. To foster genuine community, where Christ’s love and compassion is shown toward one another in all aspects of life, whether in the wilderness or in everyday living on the floor.
    2. Develop both outdoor recreation hard skills and wilderness based soft skills that can be applied throughout many aspects of life.
    3. Develop a better understanding of local, national, and global environmental issues and how to think and dialogue about them from a Christian perspective.
    4. Discover new sustainable practices as an intentional community that increases our care for God’s creation in our immediate living situation.
  • Outcomes

    Students Will Be Able To Demonstrate

    COMPASSIONATE COMMUNITY: Floor members will develop strong relationships with floor mates and leadership that encourages spiritual growth, Christian disciplines, and personal development. For further explanation please see the residence life learning outcomes that can be found here:

    WILDERNESS SKILLS: Floor members will gain the necessary proficiencies to become competent in executing wilderness and outdoor recreation based trips.

    LEADERSHIP: Floor members will develop leadership skills through opportunities to lead and co-lead outdoor recreation based trips; floor, residence hall and campus-wide leadership opportunities, and local service learning experiences. Students are expected to teach and learn with one another through critical thinking, reflection, and group discussion concerning environmental issues and sustainable practices through small group meetings.

    SUSTAINABLE LIVING: Floor members will discover the impact and benefits of intentional sustainable living, healthy habits, and enriching group discussion.

  • Expectations
    Note: Please consider your commitments outside the floor before applying. When committed to varsity sports and other high-level commitments, students have struggled to meet floor obligations and this has led to a diminished experience for both the student and the community. Please keep this mind when applying.

    Required Floor Opportunities 2023–2024 (may look different during the 2024–2025 year)

    1. Participate in 1 Credit PER 138 Wilderness Pursuits Floor course
      1. Tuesdays 3–5 p.m.
      2. Late September Weekend Backpacking Trip
    2. Participate in Creation Care Sustainability Projects
      1. Plaster Creek Clean Up—half day Saturday early fall
      2. Plaster Creek Stewards Partnership—3 additional volunteer hours
      3. Eco-System Preserve and Native Gardens—trails and garden project early April
    3. Sunday Evening Floor Meetings—every other Sunday from 6–7 p.m.; guest speakers, small group discussions, RA led programs, and opportunities/business
    4. Friendsgiving Meal—Sunday before Thanksgiving
    5. Christmas Party—Last Sunday before exams
    6. End of the Year Floor Celebration—First Sunday in May

    Optional Floor Opportunities 2023-2024 (may look different during the 2024-2025 year)

    1. Pine River Paddle Weekend—September
    2. Weekly Climbing Night—Thursdays 5:30–7 p.m.
    3. Wilderness State Park—Late January
    4. Caberfae Ski and Snowboard—multiple Fridays throughout winter
    5. Winter Backpacking—Mid February
    6. Spring Break Adventure Grant Trip—mid March
    7. Spring Maple Syrup Project—March
    8. Mad Farmers Fest—April
    9. Red River Gorge Climbing—Late April
  • The Class

    Wilderness Pursuits (PER-138) offers an introduction to minimum impact camping and wilderness skills essential for carrying out safe trips and expeditions to backcountry and wilderness areas. The course will introduce wilderness topics that include equipment, dress, navigation, shelter, backcountry kitchen, weather, emergency procedures, sanitation, travel technique, and trip planning and preparation. Along with the backcountry living and travel skills content, this class will also feature an introduction to river canoeing and rock climbing. The class will require an overnight trip to the Manistee National Forest and other off-campus trips. There will be a course fee of $75.

  • Meetings

    Meetings will occur every other Sunday from 6–7 p.m. and focus on communal eating, learning about sustainability and community life. The idea is to grow individually and to grow closer as a community.

  • Resources
  • Creation Care Partnerships and Sustainability Projects

    PLASTER CREEK STEWARDS: During the fall semester, we will partner with the Plaster Creek Stewards to learn about water quality, ecosystem health, and watershed management and restoration. We will hear from two program leaders at our Sunday night meetings and will spend 1 day volunteering as a floor in the Plaster Creek Watershed. This local restoration project provides the floor with a framework for thinking about creation care and our role as agents of renewal and transformation in the world.

    ECO-SYSTEM PRESERVE AND NATIVE GARDENS: During the spring semester, we will partner with Calvin’s Eco-System Preserve and Native Garden. We will hear from two program leaders at our Sunday night meetings and will spend 1 day volunteering as a floor in the Preserve removing invasive species, planting in the native garden, conducting bird counts, and/or working on trails and bridges. This local eco-system management project provides the floor with a framework for thinking about creating, protecting, managing, and nurturing native spaces that in return, nurture us as a community.

1st van Reken activities