Frequently Asked Questions about Nova

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Chances are the question you have has already been asked. If you didn’t find your answer here, please call Jessica Steele, Director of the Outdoor Adventure Center (207) 509-7293 or Juanita Spaulding, Administrative Assistant (207) 509-7236 or email nova@unity.edu.

What is Nova?

Nova trips are a five-day wilderness orientation trip.  They are designed to facilitate the transition to Unity College life by focusing on personal growth, building social connections, and promoting environmental stewardship. Nova trips also benefit new students in becoming full participants in the College and broader communities. Nova trips are small group adventure-based experiences.

Who will be leading the Nova trip?

Nova leaders are usually Unity College students or alumni.  They have completed a 5 day training along with holding various certifications.   They must be Unity College van certified, Leave No Trace Trainer, Mental Health First Aid, Wilderness First Aid, Wilderness First Responder or EMT.  Those who will be attending the St Croix Canoe Trip will also have a Swift Water Rescue Certification.  Some of our staff have other certifications and qualifications such as American Canoe Association Canoe Instructor, Maine Recreational Guide, Yoga Instructor…

Is Nova a required trip?

Yes.  All students that attend Unity College are required to attend Nova.

What if I have already made plans for this summer?

Students that cannot attend the Summer Nova program will be required to make it up during the next Nova program either in the winter or the following summer. Students who cannot attend the Nova program must fill out a Deferral Form. Qualifications for deferment include physical limitations, such as fracture, sprain, or temporary illness; family obligations; full-time or seasonal employment.

What if I have a physical limitation? Can I attend Nova?

Yes. We welcome you to contact the Director of the Outdoor Adventure Center and find out which trip will work for you.  We don’t turn away any student who would like to attend Nova.

What if I am signed up for Summer Bridge which Nova Trip do I sign up for?  What if I already signed up for another week?

If you have registered for Summer Bridge and have not signed up for Nova then you will need to sign up for the weeks of July 16-20 & July 23-27.  If you live outside of the New England area you can sign up for the last week of Nova August 20-24. There are many trips to choose from.  If you have already signed up for Nova but a different week, the Nova staff will be contacting you to switch your Nova trip.

I live outside of the New England area but I am coming in for Sports Week during August 20-24.  Can I sign up for the week of August 13-17?

Yes.  You can move into your room on August 19th.

I am 40 years old returning to finish my bachelors. Should I attend Nova?

Yes. You may attend Nova. Most of our Non-Traditional students enjoy the Nova program. There are specific types of situations that qualify a student for exemption from the Nova program. These situations include:

  • Physical limitations
  • Long term illness or injury (medical release required)
  • Full-time employment
  • Family obligations

Students who cannot attend the Nova program and meet the above qualifications for exemption must fill out the Deferral/Exemption Appeal Form.

How do I sign up for Nova?

You must be a deposited Unity College student. Once your Unity College Portal is activated, you will be able to log in and apply for your Nova trip.  The first two documents that are required before selecting your trip is your Health History and Assumption of Risk.  Full directions are located in the Nova Application Page.

When will my Unity College Student Portal be activated so I can apply to Nova?

In your Deposit Package there will be information about your Unity College Student Portal.  Login and sign up for your Nova trip.

How will I know what trip I am assigned to?

You will receive a confirmation letter in your Unity College email.  This will also have attachments for a packing list and your basic weekly schedule.

What is the weekly schedule for Nova?

Please go to our document page to read more about what to bring and the weekly schedule.

How long does it take to get a confirmation letter after filling an application?

No longer than 2 weeks.

What time will I need to arrive at Unity College to register for Nova?

You will need to arrive at 9 am on Sunday morning.

Are there any campsites or hotels in the area if I arrive on Saturday night?

Yes. Here is a small list of hotels/campsites: http://unity.edu/admissions/visit-unity/accomodations-and-attractions

Can I stay at Unity College the night before Nova?

No. We have other groups that will be using the Unity College campus during the summer months.

I am coming in the last week of Nova. Can I move into my room before Nova starts?

The last week of Nova is designed for students that live outside of the New England area.  You may arrive on Saturday to move into your room.  We will have a few activities for you and your family to participate during that day.  The Nova program will begin Sunday morning with a light breakfast at 8am.

Can I bring my car or should I have someone drop me off?

Either one. You may bring your car and leave it in our overnight parking lot for the week, or you may also have someone drop you off.

What type of transportation is used to get to our Nova sites?

We will use Unity College 12-passenger vans to transport the staff and participants.  We will haul our gear and equipment in a canoe or box trailer.

When is Nova over on Thursday?

We will be ending Nova on Thursday no later than 2 pm.

Are cell phones and electronic devises allowed during this trip?

No. We would love for you to step away from technology for the five days.

What if my family needs to get in contact with me?

The staff will have phone on them for emergencies only. Families can contact nova@unity.edu (207) 509 7293 or (207) 509 7232 in an emergency.

Are drugs and alcohol allowed on Nova trips?

No. Trail work, hiking, backpacking, paddling, camping and trips to far-away places involve activities that may take place in a potentially hazardous environment and can produce physical and mental stress. These activities combined with the potential environmental hazards result in the need for good physical and mental reserves. As a result of this need, any substance such as alcohol or illegal non-prescription drugs, which reduce physical and mental capabilities cannot and will not be tolerated.  The use of such substances jeopardizes the safety of all participants. Any student who does not abstain from the use of drugs or alcohol during the trip will be dismissed from the trip and be required to meet with the Dean of Students prior to the start of the semester.

What types of clothing do we need to bring?

For the most enjoyable Nova experience, it is essential that you take a look at the packing list and follow our guidelines. There is a wide range of temperatures in Maine and we want you to be prepared for anything! We will teach you how to layer your clothing, combining different garments to achieve optimum insulation (warmth) and protection from wind, snow, ice or rain.

Base Layer

Also known as long underwear, this layer keeps the moisture away. Your body produces moisture in the form of water vapor when you are exercising, and you need to pay attention to the fibers so that this moisture is “wicked away” from your skin. Cotton holds on to moisture making it unsuitable for wilderness travel. Look for synthetic or silk fibers in your base layers.

Insulating Layer

These layers tend to be bulky (wool, fleece, down), which helps to trap the heat that your body produces. Again, cotton must be avoided because once it is wet it will lose its insulating capacity.

Outer Layer (Wind/Rain Layer)

This is the layer that is closest to the outside world. It helps keep the wet out and protects against the wind. Both wet and wind elements tend to accelerate how fast your body loses heat. Good wind/rain layers will allow moisture produced by your body to escape while maintaining a barrier to wind and rain entering from the outside world.

Can I bring my favorite cotton t-­shirt?

Cotton is not an effective insulating layer and loses its ability to insulate when it becomes wet (e.g. perspiration, rain). Cotton also takes a long time to dry. For this reason, other than a t-­‐shirt or two, cotton is not advised for Nova trips. The best alternative is to wear polypropylene long underwear for insulating and a nylon layer (wind jacket and wind pants) for an outer layer. If you are joining us for an alternative trip that will be in the front country then YES you may bring cotton (Carharts and T-shirts.  Please make sure that you have other synthetic shirts as well.

Can I borrow clothing and equipment?

Unity College maintains an equipment supply room for students. In addition to group gear such as tents and stoves, we can provide students with limited quantities of:

  • Rain gear
  • Long underwear
  • Sleeping bags
  • Sleeping pads
  • Backpacks

Please request the gear you will need from the equipment room when you send in your trip request form.

Where can I purchase my own clothing and equipment?

Outdoor clothing and equipment can be very expensive. Thrift stores and army surplus outfitters often have reasonable prices. There are a number of discount outfitters including:

What type of group gear does Unity College provide?

All items listed below are provided by Nova and shared among all group members:

  • Food
  • Cooking supplies
  • Stoves and fuel
  • Water Filters
  • Maps and Compasses
  • Tents and shelter
  • First aid kits
  • Canoes and kayaks
  • Paddles and PFDs
  • Dry Bags of various sizes
  • Hiking poles
  • Tools for service projects

What kind of food can I expect?

We provide all the food during your Nova trip. Please make sure to note dietary preferences/requirements on the application form. You will be preparing the food that you eat. Your leaders will teach you cooking and stove operation techniques. Typical menu items include:

  • Dinner: Pasta, bean burritos, calzones, stir fry, hot dogs and beans
  • Lunch: Sandwiches, pepperoni, cheese & crackers, pitas, quesadillas, peanut butter (Sun-butter) and jelly
  • Breakfast: Eggs, bacon, spam, veggie sausage, granola, oatmeal, hash browns, pancakes
  • Desserts: Cheese cake, S’mores, banana boats, fruit pie, brownies, baked apples
  • Snacks: Trail mix, fruit & dried fruit, granola bars, chocolate, gold fish, and other treats

Do you accommodate any dietary restrictions?

We will accommodate various dietary restrictions such as vegetarian, vegan, food allergies. You will communicate this information on your application and health history form. Please note that the diet you will be consuming while in the wilderness may be different from what you are accustomed to at home. Due to storage limitations and relatively high cost, meat will not be central to most meals. Some options may include canned tuna, canned chicken & turkey, spam, and bacon. A few front country trips will have fresh meats. We will go over the menu prior to leaving our trip.

How will we take care of hygiene in the outdoors?

Most of the trips described involve rustic camping with an emphasis on Leave No Trace principles. This means that there is no running water for showers or cleaning dishes. There will be no flushing toilets. For purposes of drinking, washing dishes, and caring for personal hygiene, water will be boiled, filtered or chemically treated from all sources. These methods will be covered in detail by your leaders. We will pack out all of our garbage and make a conscious effort to minimize our impact on the land and waterways we travel.

Do some trips have bathrooms and running water?

Yes. These trips are: Mi'kmaq Community, Wilderness Meditation and Yoga, and Coastal Experience trips.  The campsites that we use for all other trips have outhouses.

What are the sleeping accommodations?

Most of our trips, you will be sleeping in a tent. Our tents accommodate 2-4 person. The Coastal Experience trip stays in a cabin.