Share an amazing and memorable adventure in a remarkable wilderness setting. Learn wilderness skills, participate in service-learning, reflect on God’s kingdom, live in intentional community and leave having made meaningful and lasting relationships.

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2017 wilderness trips

  • Student riding a zip-line
    Base Camp Adventure (July 30–August 4)
    • This base camp adventure takes place at Camp Ao-Wa-Kiya in Northern Michigan on Stony Lake. This trip is designed for students who want to experience adventure, leadership development and spiritual formation and meet new friends, but prefer staying at camp like setting. Students will take on the high ropes course, paintballing, canoeing, tubing, great times of reflection and experience a sunrise service on the beach.
  • Lake Superior Provincial Park backpackers
    Lake Superior Provincial Park backpacking I (August 13–20)
    • The “Coastal Trail” is one of the most scenic stretches of backpacking east of the Rockies. The rocky Superior coastline is a backpacking paradise. Students should anticipate moderate to challenging hiking, mastering backcountry living and travel skills, enjoying sandy beaches and primitive camping on the week long adventure.
  • Lake Superior Provincial Park backpackers
    Lake Superior Provincial Park backpacking II (August 22–29)
    • The “Coastal Trail” is one of the most scenic stretches of backpacking east of the Rockies. The rocky Superior coastline is a backpacking paradise. Students should anticipate moderate to challenging hiking, mastering backcountry living and travel skills, enjoying sandy beaches and primitive camping on the week long adventure.
  • North Channel Sea Kayaking and Climbing
    North Channel kayaking and climbing I (August 13–20)
    • On this trip, students will embark together on a self-supported sea kayak paddle through the historic North Channel. Along the way students will camp on granite islands and peninsulas, climb and rappel a rock face that drops 60 feet to the water below, and gain the skills needed to safely travel and live out of their kayak for a week. Most students even learn the “Eskimo role”!
  • North Channel Sea Kayaking and Climbing
    North Channel kayaking and climbing II (August 22–29)
    • On this trip, students will embark together on a self-supported sea kayak paddle through the historic North Channel. Along the way students will camp on granite islands and peninsulas, climb and rappel a rock face that drops 60 feet to the water below, and gain the skills needed to safely travel and live out of their kayak for a week. Most students even learn the “Eskimo role”!
  • Red River Gorge Rock Climbing
    Red River Gorge rock climbing (August 13-20)
    • The “Red” is the most famous rock climbing area in the Eastern United States. On this course you will learn how to climb slabs, cracks, face and overhanging rock routes; explore the trails of the Red River Gorge Geological area, rock climb five continuous days at five different areas and camp at Natural Bridges State Park. This course is tailored to beginners and experienced climbers alike. You will gain instruction in belaying techniques, movement technique, and rappelling. You should also anticipate a memorable time of service in the Muir Valley.
  • Rocky Mountain Backpacking
    Northern Michigan Multi Element Adventure (August 22–29)
    • This seven day Adventure course travels on land and water between the Sleeping Bear Sand Dunes National Lakeshore and Mackinaw Island. Students will spend all nights at a different beach based Michigan State or National Park. This multi-element seven day course begins with a paddle day on the wild and scenic Pine River. Next, students will ferry out of historic fishing village of Leland for a 3 day Backpacking and Beach camping trip to South Manitou Island. The course will then move to Petoskey State Park,where students will stage for a road cycling day to Wilderness Date Park. The course will conclude with a day on the Historic Mackinaw Island. !

Is Wilderness Orientation for me?

Yes—if you love adventure, the outdoors, and trying new and exciting things. You don’t need previous wilderness experience to participate. All that’s required is a willingness to try new things, a positive outlook, and good physical health.

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What to expect

The Calvin Wilderness Orientation program is a collaboration between the Student Life Division and the Kinesiology Department of Calvin College.

  • Establish relationships: Build lasting friendships and initial “Calvin Community” with other new students!
  • Adventure: Share an amazing and memorable adventure experience in either a remarkable wilderness setting!
  • Wilderness skills: Build outdoor proficiency in the areas of backpacking, sea kayaking, rock climbing, and/or cycling (all students will receive their first required PE credit).
  • Growth and goal setting: Offer time and space for spiritual reflection and goal setting regarding the transition into college life.
  • “Epic” experience: Leave the experience knowing that you accomplished something “epic” through physical challenge, service, intentional community living, personal reflection, acquisition of new adventure based skills, and having made meaningful and lasting connections with other incoming Calvin students!
Be surrounded by carefully selected and highly trained course instructors

Each trip is directed by a full time faculty/staff member of Calvin College. Along with full time staff, up to 3 highly trained and certified upper class or graduate students will act as trip instructors/leaders. These leaders are selected for their

  • commitment to safety,
  • ability to exercise strong judgment and decision making,
  • love for working directly with incoming students, and
  • passion for creating a highly memorable experience in a wilderness or urban context.

All staff members are highly trained in, either general wilderness skills, and the specific activities that they are leading/instructing. Staff have taken a ten day wilderness medicine course through the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS/WMI), being certified as Wilderness First Responders. All rock climbing sites are supervised by an individual who is a certified Top Rope Site Manager/Guide with the American Mountain Guide Association (AMGA).Paddle instructors have completed an American Canoe Association (ACA) open water/coastal sea kayaking course.

Receive class credit exemption

PER 138 Wilderness Pursuits Exemption

All students attending a wilderness trip will receive an exemption from one of three Heath and Fitness core requirements. Each trip is directed and instructed by a full-time faculty/staff member who specializes in Outdoor Recreation and  Education. Along with gaining comprehensive skills in back country travel and living, students will gain specific skill sets in the focused outdoor pursuits around which the trip is built. As a part of the Calvin Core curriculum, students will also spend time discussing and journaling on:

  • stewardship
  • stress management
  • goal setting focused on personal wellness and developing lifetime “healthy habits”.
Experience epic routes and spectacular locations

All locations have been selected based on the unmatched natural beauty, memorable setting, historic significance, environmental appropriateness for the specific outdoor pursuit, and ability to offer a challenging, but not overwhelming wilderness-based experience.

Accommodations

Accommodations range from rustic cabins to a tent in the great outdoors. Tents are provided.

What to pack

Trip-specific packing lists will be provided prior to your trip. Extensive gear is not required for Wilderness Orientation.

Meals

All meals during the trip are included—except for the two meals during travel days. You are encouraged to bring $25 for those meals.

Before you arrive
Steps to complete:
  1. Register yourself and your family members for orientation via e-Enroll (see “Registration” tab), being sure to select Calvin’s “Wilderness Orientation Program” within e-Enroll.
  2. Sign up by clicking on the trip you want to attend above and register with a $100 deposit through Eventbrite.
  3. Pay your enrollment deposit, if you haven’t already
  4. Have a valid passport, if leaving the U.S. (students are required to have a passport or passport card to cross the border into Canada. This can be a fairly long process, so you will want start the process right away. For more information regarding this, please visit the government’s website: http://travel.state.gov/passport/)
  5. Print out driving directions and a campus map (see our Information & Resources page)
  6. Information for your specific trip will be emailed to your Calvin email closer to the date of your trip. Be sure to check your email regularly for important information.
Dates & Schedule

Dates and schedules vary depending on which trip you choose.

Registration
Register for orientation online using e-Enroll

A few things to note about registration:

  • Register early to increase the chances you’ll get into the session you want. Preference will be given to students applying before May 1.
  • Register for your Wilderness trip through Eventbrite!
Trip costs

The Wilderness Orientation fee ($525 for the North Channel Sea Kayaking trips, $525 for the Lake Superior trip, $495 for the znorthern Michigan Muilti-Element, $495 for the Red River Rock Climbing trip, $350 for Ao-Wa-Kiya Base Camp) will be charged to your student account. If you cancel before May 30, a $100 fee will be applied to your account. After May 30, all trips are non-refundable unless there is an emergency or special circumstance.