Community Action (CA) is a small-group experience of Princeton Orientation coordinated by the Pace Center for Civic Engagement. 

CA introduces first-year students to community at Princeton and the surrounding area. Students learn what it means to be part of a community, how to grapple with complex societal questions, and begin to develop an awareness of their personal values. 

Each year, CA Fellows collaborate with on and off-campus partners to develop the themes and experiences for the program. Previous groups have focused on topics ranging from food insecurity in Trenton to environmental education in the Poconos to educational access in Princeton to the arts in Newark and more. 

Welcome New Students to Princeton!

CA welcomes students to one of the greatest traditions at Princeton… service.  CA allows new students to form connections with peers and members of the campus and local communities rooted in respect and humility, to participate in community-building activities focused on individual and collective well-being, and to explore civic engagement opportunities.

During CA, the majority of groups will stay off-campus at a camp or retreat center to allow for an immersive experience. A limited number will remain overnight on-campus for groups working with partners in the Princeton community. 

For new students placed into CA, an email will be sent to your Princeton email address in July that includes a form for you to complete so that our team can learn more about your interests. More detailed information will be sent out over the summer including individual placement, theme, and leader information.

Frequently Asked Questions

What kinds of activities will I participate in during CA? 

CA is focused on building connections, discovering opportunities, exploring and learning about social issues and ways to engage in service. 

A typical day during CA, will have groups participate in team building activities that allow you to learn about yourself, your peers and community at Princeton. Groups will also engage in open and supportive dialogue through CA’s Brave Space and reflection conversations. Guest speakers from campus and the community will share their knowledge and expertise related to your group’s civic engagement themes. Additionally, groups will participate in volunteer service opportunities with community organizations. 

Each CA group will have a unique schedule that will be shared by your CA Fellows and Leaders. 

Where will I be sleeping during CA? 

The majority of CA groups live together off-campus either in an outdoor camp setting or a suburban retreat center. A limited number of CA groups remain on-campus, overnight if they are partnered with a local Princeton or Mercer County community organization. Typically, 8-10 small groups will be at each host partner location. 

All sleeping locations are bunk bed style and have access to on-site bathroom facilities. Please note, all students participating in CA will need to bring a sleeping bag or linens with them for the small-group experience. 

You will receive more information about your specific group schedule in August.  

What should I bring with me during CA? 

You should plan to pack one small bag (preferably a duffel bag or small carry-on size suitcase) along with your sleeping bag and pillow. 

Please note if your group is staying off-campus, you will not be able to access your room during the small-group experience so it will be important that you bring along any items that you may need for the week, especially medication. You can view a sample packing list. (note: you will need to be logged into your Princeton Google account to access this document). 

What if I have dietary restrictions or require special accommodations? 

If you indicated on your Orientation registration that you had a dietary, medical, religious, or other special need, the CA team has reviewed that information and taken it into consideration for your small-group experience placement. We regularly work with students who keep kosher or halaal, have allergies to nuts, gluten intolerance and other dietary preferences, or require disability accommodations. 

If you have had any changes to your accommodation needs since completing your Orientation registration form, please contact [email protected] as soon as possible. 

When will I meet my CA Fellow & Leaders and other group members? 

At the CA Check-in & Welcome. Make sure that you check your Orientation schedule for the exact time and location.

How can I get in contact with members of the CA Team? 

Please feel free to email us with any questions or concerns at [email protected]

General information regarding other Orientation programs, and the beginning of the academic year, will be updated on the Path to Princeton portal as available. The latest updates for the University community are available on the University's COVID-19 website


Sara Gruppo
Associate Director & Community Action Program Director
Alex Tubridy
Community Action Program Coordinator


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Effective Communication

Effective communication can help you build a strong rapport with others and generate support for your work while starting a dialogue about this issues you are passionate about.

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Learn about mutual aid networks, how to plug into community needs in your town, and where to find virtual volunteer opportunities.

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Being welcomed into a community is an act of trust; one we should honor and respect. The people and communities we work with don't need a savior, they need an ally.