UVM Larner Med’s UVM-Med Outdoor Orientation, fondly referred to as U-Moo, was started in August of 20219 by the Wilderness Medicine Medical Student Interest Group. Unfortunately, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was cancelled in August of 2020, but reinstated in August of 2021.

U-Moo is an optional pre-Orientation event for first-year medical students prior to Orientation Week at UVM Larner Med. Typically held as an overnight outdoor experience, the trip is led by medical student leaders and student ambassadors from the second-, third-, and fourth-year classes, and includes activities such as “hiking, nature walks, yoga, trail running, lawn games, reading, crafts, and campfire stories.”

Learn more about U-Moo.

Stock image of starry night sky with dark silhouette of pine trees in the background.
Stock image of starry night sky with dark silhouette of pine trees in the background.

The UVM-Med Outdoor Orientation, or U-MOO, is an optional camping trip offered to incoming first-year students at the University of Vermont Larner College of Medicine.

The purpose of the trip – organized by current students – is to facilitate a welcoming experience and a chance to socialize while exploring the wilderness of Vermont. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to be one of the current students who volunteered to help with this trip. I didn’t have the opportunity during my first year due to COVID-19 restrictions, so I wanted to do my part in making sure others had a wonderful, enjoyable time. While I was there, reading in my hammock after a leisurely eight-mile group hike, I wrote a short reflection on the experience:

The excitement and nervousness, filtered through unsureness, crackles in the air. The night’s fire is drowned. The thrill of the connection formed between a trading of words, a bazaar of humanity; bizarre in the way the connection always existed, but hidden away until shared language and experience burned the air between us. How surreal it is to hear bonds form here, in this place. This place, any place, with so many more to come.

In the middle of nowhere, in the center of everything natural, I looked up and found space for thought. The stars, so plain to see; the Milky Way, the way it spills its silken depth over the sky, the way it falls and fades to give way to dawn—a new hue, a hewn newness and renewal breaking over minds of such depth. It’s almost as if all the stars had fallen into a pit at the end of the horizon and rose again to ask us about things we couldn’t see before—like a breath deep with sleep, the night exhales to release any wonder held within and awakens the many eyes below that cast their gazes above.

I see now with my own eyes the shape of that wonder, of brilliant eyes set to sparkle with brilliant curiosity. A sparkling to join the stars. We students have come from all over to learn about ourselves and each other. We learn not only the functionality of our own corporeal abodes, but also of the sparks held within. Our dreams. Our ambitions. Our loves of life, our lives within the love of healing and kindness: medicine.

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