The academic year formally began on September 3 with Opening Convocation, but preparations for welcoming the hundreds of new students who started at Redeemer this year began much earlier. Most students moved in on Labour Day, and student leaders, including RAs and HAs, have been on campus for more than a week, engaging in training and development activities designed to make this a warm welcome for students. This is also a key component to the successful transition for students to university life. “For students attending university for the first time, LAUNCH, our orientation program, is an introduction to our campus and university life as a whole. Our goal is to acquaint students with what university life is all about: spiritual growth, personal development, new friendships, and learning that expands their horizons,” said James Cuthbert, Redeemer’s Activities & Orientation Coordinator. Cuthbert and Redeemer’s team of RAs, HAs and student leaders lay the groundwork for new Redeemer students, which will help them quickly adjust and feel at home on their new campus. “I said goodbye to my family, moved into my dorm (with seven complete strangers), started a job at Refresh, and the next day, I had my very first classroom experience. It all was quite overwhelming… but by second semester, I considered Redeemer to be my home,” said third-year social-work student Colin Harrison-Kreslin in a blog post reflecting on his first weeks at Redeemer. New students participate in fun and service with LAUNCH. Dorms of students are given team colours and each team colour is led by a group of LAUNCH leaders, upper-year students who are there to help new students adjust, learn about their new community and start the year well. LAUNCH Highlights: LAUNCH is a collection of orientation, service and fun activities. For details and photos from these and other events, visit the LAUNCH blog. Redeemer Food Drive for Neighbour to Neighbour: LAUNCH teams collected food along a designated route in the Meadowlands community. This was a great opportunity for new students to introduce themselves to the surrounding community. In 2013, at the fifth annual back-to-school food raiser, Redeemer students collected 10,300 pounds of food, the most ever by the event. In 2012 over 8,300 pounds of food were collected all of which was donated to Neighbour to Neighbour Centre. LAUNCH Olympics: This is an annual, unforgettable LAUNCH event! Students race through activities, including the particularly spectacular mud pit. The Redeemer Challenge Scavenger Hunt: New students took selfies with Gandalf and challenged President Krygsman to Connect Four matches during The Redeemer Challenge scavenger hunt. Students made great memories and were also introduced students to key campus services and staff. Circle of Parents: All parents of first-year students were invited to attend this meaningful hour with the Dean of Students and members of the Student Life Department. Parents asked questions, shared hopes and dreams and prayed with their new Redeemer community. Volunteer Fair & Church Showcase: Students connected with community organizations to find out how they could help and get involved in Hamilton and talked to pastors and churches to find a church community they could join. Club Showcase: Involvement on campus is a great way to make new friends and to make the most of university. Students visited booths set up by clubs, where they could find out how to get involved. Men’s and Women’s Soccer Home-Opener: Calling all Loyal Royals! Students dressed up in Red and White and filled the stands for the men’s and women’s soccer teams home-opener games. New students learned and sang songs and chants that are passed on from generation to generation of students. Cross Culture: CrossCulture is a one-day service project that introduces students to organizations making a difference, engaging them with the connection between justice and worship. It provides a place for young adults from the Hamilton area to gather together downtown to worship through song, prayer, storytelling, and service in the community. Students will gain exposure to urban poverty realities, serve with Hamilton community organizations, and gain an understanding of how geography and mission collide while worshipping, learning, and serving at community organizations with fellow students. Breakfast is provided.