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Three students smiling with their arms around each other with woods in the background. They are all wearing Alumni Scholars Program T-shirts. CJ Poloka

TAAP Scholars Take on the Lair

On Friday, August 26, an incoming cohort of The Achievement Award Program (TAAP) Scholars and Alumni Scholars Program staff traveled to Pinecrest for a weekend at the Lair of the Golden Bear. The result—a weekend of bonding, hikes to the lake, sunshine, and of course, s’mores.

October 28, 2022
by Josephine Thornton

After arriving late Friday evening, undergraduate students from The Achievement Award Program (TAAP) began Saturday at the Camp Blue Breakfast Bar. A Grounding Circle followed, which set intentions for the orientation for each individual student. ASP staff hosted workshops for scholars on how to succeed at UC Berkeley, covering topics such as goal setting and time management. TAAP scholars learned about various organizations that offer support to students, including the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) and Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS).  

Two cabin structures with canvas tent roofs in a wooded area.
TAAP Scholars stayed at Camp Blue at the Lair of the Golden Bear. / CJ Poloka

As this orientation weekend was at the beginning of the fall semester, scholars set goals for their coming academic term, identifying their personal priorities as well as their support networks. This weekend encouraged students to plan their educational objectives thoughtfully. Staff were available to answer students’ questions, helping ensure each scholar’s success.

“Our scholars are brilliant and very independent, and we want to remind them that asking for support is a skill and strength.”

Johanna “Yoyo” Romero ’15,
Program Manager, Student Support

“The Incoming Scholars Orientation gives scholars an opportunity to find a community and sense of belonging to support them in navigating UC Berkeley, which is a large and fast-paced campus,” explained Johanna “Yoyo” Romero ’15, program manager, student support.

A group of students and staff members sit around a wooden table talking.
Students connected with one another and shared their intentions for the coming academic year. / CJ Poloka

“Our scholars, who have first-gen, low-income backgrounds, thrive when they have a village of support through their Cal journey. Through the orientation, we also emphasize the importance of defining success for yourself (especially because it’s so easy to compare yourself to others on campus), to know your values, and to ask for support. Our scholars are brilliant and very independent, and we want to remind them that asking for support is a skill and strength.”

A group of 8 students with their arms around each other stand on a beach with a lake and mountains in the background.
Students enjoyed lunchtime at Pinecrest Lake. / CJ Poloka

A trip to the Lair of the Golden Bear would not be complete without a visit to Pinecrest Lake. Scholars and staff packed lunches and headed off on a beautiful walk to the lake. Once there, students enjoyed lunch, swam and some even completed an additional hike to Strawberry Dam.

2 students make friendship bracelets
Students enjoyed making crafts with the support of the Lair staffers. / CJ Poloka

After returning from the lake, scholars enjoyed free time at the Lair. Some students made lanyards and tie-dyed T-shirts, while others swam in the pool. 

Following dinner, scholars and ASP staff engaged in community-building through storytelling, followed by s’mores and a late-night swim. 

A group of 6 students pose with a carved wooden bear statue.
Go Bears! / CJ Poloka

With new connections and communication lines established, scholars and staff enjoyed one final Camp Blue breakfast Sunday morning before packing up and heading back to Cal. 

Learn more about The Achievement Award Program.