Wilderness Adventure - First-Year Outdoor Education Pre-Orientation Skip Navigation

Wilderness Adventure
Pre-Orientation Program

Meet new friends, discover Colgate, and explore the Adirondacks all while having a great time in the outdoors. Wilderness Adventure is a great way to kick-start your Colgate experience!
Wilderness Adventure brings good friendships, and good views.

About Wilderness Adventure

Wilderness Adventure (WA) is Colgate’s largest pre-orientation program. Each year in August, 125 to 150 first-year students come to campus early to make friends, learn about Colgate from upper-class student leaders, and have an absolute blast! All of our trips use the outdoors to help students acclimate to Colgate, Central New York, and life as a college student. Living and traveling with a small group of other first-year students and two or three highly trained leaders, you’ll work together to hike, paddle, climb, cave, bike, or sail through stunning New York wilderness. No previous technical or wilderness experience is needed for any of our trips, just a willingness to have fun, learn, and meet new people. Some trips, where noted, require a certain level of physical fitness.

2014 Session Dates

Session I: August 6-11  (Clearwater Sailing August 6-9)
Session II: August 16-23


*International Students and Benton Scholars: Please note that you should not sign up for Wilderness Adventure Session II due to your commitments to Benton Scholars' pre-orientation and International Students' Orientation respectively. Due to these conflicts, students in these groups will be given priority registration in Session I of WA.  Unfortunately, Colgate cannot provide lodging or meals for students during the interim time between the end of session 1 and the onset of international student orientation so please only register if you have access to self-sufficient lodging during that interim period. International students who are also US citizens are not required to attend International Student orientation. Contact Outdoor Education if you have any questions.

Early Decision will begin early February and Regular enrollment in May. Details provided at a later date.

* Note: All Equipment Provided Free of Charge

Registration Information

Early decision students open until April 18

*Registrations are only final if accompanied by a $100 non-refundable deposit
Please review the registration information below, then click on the button below to register and pay on-line.
  • All trip descriptions and costs can be found on this page. Please read them carefully regarding session,  level of difficulty and required experience.
  • Trip priority is given in the order that the registrations are received. Trip assignments will be sent out by mid May.
  • Please indicate your first choice Session and second choice Session. If you cannot do one of the sessions at all, select NA for second choice.
  • Scholarship is available for those receiving aid from Colgate. If awarded full aid for a trip, your deposit will be refunded to you!
  • Space on trips for each Session is limited. Due to travel logistics, students living further than a day's drive from campus are given priority for Session 2.
  • Session 2 participants will be permitted to move into their dorm rooms on August 16 prior to the start of Wilderness Adventure. Limited storage for items can be provided for Session I participants on request.
  • Session 2 participants will be finished with the trip and cleaned up well before the start of First Year Orientation on August 23.
  • The Clearwater trip is August 6-9 and will begin in New York City and end farther North on the Hudson River in a town conveniently accessed by public transportation. Members of the trip will NOT come to Colgate early. All other trips begin and end at Colgate.
* Deposits will only be refunded for cancellations due to personal or family emergencies
Questions?

Contact Roxanne Benson at rbenson@colgate.edu or 315-228-7972

REGISTER

Session 1 (August 6-August 11; 6-days; $360 unless noted)

Level 1 Trips (No previous experience required)
Clearwater Sailing  $700  August 6-9

Days will be spent enjoying time on the water with the Catskill and Adirondack Mountains in view, learning how to sail, exploring the ecology and history of the area, and assisting with keeping the boat shipshape. Evenings will be spent camping on shore, star-gazing, getting to know other members of your incoming class, and preparing for your first year at Colgate.

You will not need to rent any special equipment for this trip, and all meals will be provided on the ship. The trip will be leaving from and returning to ports in the Hudson River Valley, proximal to public transportation easily accessible from NYC and Albany.

No previous sailing experience necessary.
Local Adventure Sampler $200

Experience four varied and exciting adventure activities along with 12 of your classmates. You’ll swing from the trees on our high ropes course, hike along the scenic trails of central New York and the Southern Adirondacks, explore local waterways by canoe, and try your hand at rock climbing at a local crag. Each evening, you will return to Hamilton and spend the night at Colgate’s Beattie Reserve sleeping in our yurt*.

This trip is designed to be a little less rustic and demanding than our typical options but still provides plenty of fun and adventure and the chance to try out several activities with a new group of friends.

*What's a yurt? It is a 30' diameter circular tent made of wood and canvas. It has a permanent foundation, wood and propane stoves, couches, and bunk beds.
Fly Fishing/Backpacking

Learn the basics of fly fishing – casting, river ecology, angler ethics and more. Think like a fish as you explore local hot spots putting catch & release practices into play. You’ll also get a chance to stretch your legs, exploring local trails, and maybe even summiting a peak in the southern Adirondacks. Even if you don’t catch many fish, we guarantee you’ll bring back plenty of good memories. The cost of a New York State Fishing License is included with the trip.
Backpacking
We will hike 3-6 miles per day over both flat and hilly terrain, arriving at camp by early afternoon with time to relax before dinner. We will have at least one layover day relaxing in camp or exploring the surrounding area -- this may include hiking to the summit of a peak.
Canoeing
We will paddle on flat water lakes and rivers with minimal portaging (carrying the canoes and gear over land between waterways). We'll arrive at camp by early afternoon, with time to relax before dinner. On rest days we will cook in camp, swim, and go on day hikes.
Backpacking/Canoeing
We will spend two days backpacking and two days canoeing, with 4-8 miles of travel daily. With minimal or no portaging, this trip is a great way to see the Adirondacks by land and water. A great introduction to backcountry travel, this trip also provides time to socialize and enjoy the natural splendor of the Adirondacks.

Level 2 Trips (Moderate level of physical fitness required)
Caving

Are you looking for a new kind of adventure? Join us in learning about caves, geology, navigation, rope work, and life underground at 52 degrees Fahrenheit year-round!

We will explore several horizontal caves as well as one or two vertical caves that require ropes and harnesses to rappelling to enter and exit. We'll spend nights in a rustic cabin and may perform a service project for the Northeast Cave Conservancy. There will be ample opportunity to socialize and swim.
Backpacking
We will hike 4-8 miles daily over terrain that is hilly and sometimes steep, arriving at camp by late afternoon. Days can be long and challenging, but there are trail breaks along the way. We move camp every day, with the exception of one layover day spent relaxing and exploring the surrounding area -- perhaps hiking to the summit of a nearby peak.
Sea Kayaking
We will kayak 3-8 miles daily from campsite to campsite with a rest day in the middle. We will help you perfect your kayak strokes and learn to pack your boat while enjoying the beauty of Cranberry Lake in the Adirondacks. Free time is spent honing kayaking skills, learning to roll a kayak, swimming, and cooking in camp. There also are numerous day hiking opportunities.
Climbing/Bouldering/Day Hiking
Experience a variety of climbing across Central New York and the Adirondacks. You’ll get to try your hand at roped climbing, bouldering, and maybe even hike a peak! This trip is a great introduction to rock climbing, and no previous experience is needed. You will not only challenge yourself while scaling the cliffs, but also enjoy beautiful scenery and have a great time with your group in this beautiful setting.

Level 2+ Trips (High level of physical fitness required)
Mountain Biking
We'll explore Central New York state parks and forests in high gear while jumping logs, riding bridges, and seeing parts of the forest in fast forward. We will spend nights in local cabins and/or yurts while playing games and cooking group meals. During the day we will teach you basic to intermediate riding, bike maintenance, local human and natural history, and about building or maintaining features on the Colgate bike trails. Participants must know how to ride a bike, but do not need any previous mountain biking experience. Colgate can provide mountain bikes free of charge.
Lightweight Backpacking
With backpacks 50% lighter than typical packs, we’ll carry a minimum of equipment and compensate with specialized lightweight camping techniques. Lightweight backpacking combines the splendor of wilderness travel with the glory of a light load on your back. Some previous backpacking experience may be helpful but it is not required, we can teach you everything you need to know.

We will hike 6-12+ miles daily over steep terrain, and we will hike over one or two peaks. Days are challenging but the light packs make the long days manageable.

We change camp daily, with one layover day spent relaxing in camp and day hiking, possibly to the summit of a peak.

Session 2 (August 16-23; 8-days; $480)

Level 1 Trips (No previous experience required)
Backpacking
We will hike 3-6 miles per day over both flat and hilly terrain, arriving at camp by early afternoon with time to relax before dinner. We will have at least one layover day relaxing in camp or exploring the surrounding area -- this may include hiking to the summit of a peak.
Canoeing
We will paddle on flat water lakes and rivers with minimal portaging (carrying the canoes and gear over land between waterways). We'll arrive at camp by early afternoon, with time to relax before dinner. On rest days we will cook in camp, swim, and go on day hikes.

Level 2 Trips (Moderate level of physical fitness required)
Backpacking
We will hike 4-8 miles daily over terrain that is hilly and sometimes steep, arriving at camp by late afternoon. Days can be long and challenging, but there are trail breaks along the way. We move camp every day, with the exception of one layover day spent relaxing and exploring the surrounding area -- perhaps hiking to the summit of a nearby peak.
Sea Kayaking
We will kayak 3-8 miles daily from campsite to campsite with a rest day in the middle. We will help you perfect your kayak strokes and learn to pack your boat while enjoying the beauty of Cranberry Lake in the Adirondacks. Free time is spent honing kayaking skills, learning to roll a kayak, swimming, and cooking in camp. There also are numerous day hiking opportunities.
Climbing/Bouldering/Day Hiking
This trip will take place in the Adirondacks and will include base camping, two days of roped climbing, a day of bouldering and two days of hiking. In addition to the challenges of scaling the cliffs, you’ll also enjoy beautiful scenery and have a great time with your group in this beautiful setting.

Level 2+ Trips (High level of physical fitness required)
Backpacking
We will travel 6-9 miles over steep terrain, hiking over an Adirondack pass with a full pack. We will move camp every day with the exception of a layover day when you'll have the option of climbing an Adirondack High Peak. There will be many trail breaks and time for relaxing in camp each night.
Canoeing/Backpacking
We will spend three days backpacking and three days canoeing, with 5-10 miles of travel daily. The trips will involve some portaging of canoes – carrying the canoes and gear over land between waterways. It is a great introduction to backcountry travel, with time to socialize and enjoy the natural splendor of the Adirondack high peaks and the Raquette River.
Lightweight Backpacking
With backpacks 50% lighter than typical packs, we’ll carry a minimum of equipment and compensate with specialized lightweight camping techniques. Lightweight backpacking combines the splendor of wilderness travel with the glory of a light load on your back. Some previous backpacking experience may be helpful but it is not required, we can teach you everything you need to know.

We will hike 6-12+ miles daily over steep terrain, and we will hike over two Adirondack High Peaks. Days are challenging but the light packs make the long days manageable.

We change camp daily, with one layover day spent relaxing in camp and day hiking, possibly to the summit of a peak.

Level 3 Trips (High level of physical fitness required. Previous experience suggested.)
Level 3 Backpacking
We will travel 6-12+ miles daily over steep to very steep terrain. We will hike over two Adirondack High Peaks with full packs. Days are long and challenging, and we may not arrive at camp until dinnertime or later, with trail breaks along the way. We move camp daily with the exception of one layover day spent relaxing in camp and day hiking, possibly to the summit of a peak.