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.

If you love adventure, the outdoors, and trying new and exciting things, Wilderness Orientation is for you—no previous wilderness experience needed! All that’s required is a willingness to try new things, a positive outlook, and good physical health. After reading about this year's trip options, scroll to the bottom of this page for more information about participating in a Wilderness Orientation.

2017 Wilderness Trips

More information

What to expect

Calvin's Wilderness Orientation program is a collaboration between the Student Life Division and the Kinesiology Department. As you plan ahead for your Wilderness Orientation trip, you can plan to:

  • Establish relationships: Build lasting friendships and an initial “Calvin Community” with other new students!
  • Experience Adventure: Share an amazing and memorable adventure experience in either a remarkable wilderness setting!
  • Develop Skills: Build outdoor proficiency in the areas of backpacking, sea kayaking, rock climbing, and/or cycling.
  • Grow and set goals: Offer time and space for spiritual reflection and goal setting for your transition into college life.
  • Have an “epic” experience: Leave the trip 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!
Excellent Leaders

Each trip is directed by a full-time faculty or staff member of Calvin College. EAlong with the full-time employee, up to 3 highly trained and certified upperclass or graduate students will act as trip instructors/leaders. All Wilderness Orientation leaders are carefully selected and highly trained. 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 general wilderness skills and activities that are specific to the trip they are leading. 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.

Class credit exemption

All students attending a wilderness trip will receive an exemption from one of three Heath and Fitness core requirements (PER 138: Wilderness Pursuits). Each trip is directed and instructed by a full-time faculty or staff member who specializes in Outdoor Recreation and Education. Along with gaining comprehensive skills in back country travel and living, students will gain specific skills 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”.
Epic routes and spectacular locations

All locations have been selected for their 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 lunches during the two travel days. You are encouraged to bring $25 to purchase food during travel.

Before you arrive
Steps to complete:
  1. Register yourself and your family members for one of five PASSPORT sessions (see “Registration” tab), making sure to also select Calvin’s “Wilderness Orientation Program.”
  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.
Registration

Click here to register for an orientation.

Please Note
  • Registration for orientation is done online through Eventbrite. When you register for PASSPORT, you will be given the option to select "Wilderness Orientation Program," which then gives you the option to choose which trip you would like to attend.
  • Registration for PASSPORT automatically registers you for QUEST.
  • Early registration increases the chance you’ll get into the session you want. Preference will be given to students who apply before May 1.
Trip costs

The Wilderness Orientation fee ($525 for the North Channel Sea Kayaking trips, $525 for the Lake Superior trip, $495 for the northern 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.

Need based scholarships are available. Please fill out an application for a $100 scholarship towards your wilderness trip.

Forms and resources

Additional important documents

Frequently Asked Questions

When do I check in for my Wilderness trip?

You can plan to check in from 3 – 5 p.m. on Day 1 of your trip. After checking in, you will eat dinner, meet with your winderness group, gather wilderness gear, and receive other important information. You will sleep on-campus for the first night.

Can I sleep on-campus the night before I need to check in for my trip?

Yes. Students attending a Wilderness trip may sleep on-campus in the Knollcrest East (KE) apartments the night before they leave for their trip. Please note, however, that your account will be charged $35 for this additional overnight stay.

If we spend the first night on-campus, when do we actually leave for the trip?

You will leave from campus at 7 a.m. on Day 2.

Since I live close to campus, can I sleep at home the first night?

No. All Wilderness trip participants are required to sleep on-campus for the first night.

When is the trip over?

All trips are scheduled to arrive back to campus from 6 – 8 p.m. on the final date of the trip.

Can I move into my residence hall after the trip?

Only students attending a Wilderness Orientation from August 22 – 29 may move into their residence hall after their trip; all other students will move in Thursday, August 31. Students attending the August 22 – 29 trips may bring their furniture and belongings (in boxes) to campus with them before the trip. We will store all belongings while they are on the trip, and they can then move directly into their room when they return on the 29th.

If my trip is scheduled from August 22 – 29, how does that affect PASSPORT and QUEST?

Your Wilderness trip will not affect PASSPORT or QUEST. If you are registered for PASSPORT V, you will arrive back to campus the night before your PASSPORT session begins. If you attended PASSPORTs I—IV, you do not have any programming scheduled until QUEST begins on August 31.