Get answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about the Wilderness Adventure pre-orientation.

General Questions

  • Start college with a group of great new friends and upperclassmen mentors.
  • Practice outdoor skills under the guidance of experienced student leaders.
  • Try something new, and maybe a little bit challenging — just like college.
  • Learn about classes, dorms, food, clubs, activities, and more from your leaders.
  • Jumpstart your entrance into community living and active citizenship.
  • Discover the Adirondack Park and Central New York – your new home.
  • "Enjoy every moment even if it seems insignificant because the trip goes by so quickly and you will never have another opportunity like this."
  • "I realized that everyone else has the same concerns I do, I felt much better about college in general. I learned that you are almost never alone in what you are feeling, and that if you reach out to others it is not hard to find those similar to you."
  • "I really felt lucky to meet all the people in my group because everyone is so kind and accepting. I also really enjoyed getting a chance to try all different activities, such as rock climbing, hiking, and the ropes course."
  • "It was a fun and honest introduction to the Colgate community and nice to know there will be familiar faces on campus."
  • "I would take every moment you can to talk to every person in your group because everyone is really interesting and fun to talk to."
  • "Keep an open mind, don't judge the experience, people, or activity before you try it. You might just love it all."

Two or three upper-class students who are Outdoor Education staff members lead each Wilderness Adventure trip. All staff complete an extensive nine‐month training program focused on risk management, leadership, teaching, and outdoor skills. Staff members are certified in CPR and Wilderness First Responder, a 72‐hour backcountry medicine course.

Wilderness Adventure trips are a unique introduction to both the Colgate community and backcountry travel. Along the way, you’ll learn about navigation, camping, Leave-No-Trace, and more, with the goal of teaching you everything you need to know to be a self--sufficient group. Perhaps more importantly, you’ll also learn about life at Colgate, from classes to campus, from professors to Phys. Ed. credits, or from winters in Hamilton to weekend activities, your leaders are experts at camping and Colgate who are ready to help you figure this whole thing out.

No problem! Lots of people go on WA with little or no previous outdoor experience. You will have experienced leaders along with your group who will be happy to show you how to live and play comfortably in the woods. Most of the trips are designed with beginners in mind. All we ask is that you come with a good attitude and a willingness to learn. We know not everyone comes from a place where camping in the woods is considered fun or normal. Even though this might be a new experience for you and you may be a little uneasy about sleeping in the woods, we strongly encourage you to try this program. Don't think of it as living in a tent, think of it as a chance to make great friends and get a head start on college. Even if you feel a little nervous now, we know you won't regret it. New challenges are what college is all about, right?

Dates and Registration

The dates for this year's WA can be found on the WA homepage.

You can find the timeline for our registration process on the WA homepage and click on the drop-down for 'Registration Deadline.'


We will NEVER put you on a SESSION if you told us you cannot attend that session. If you selected "No, I am only wiling to attend my preferred session" then we will only place you onto that session.

If you indicated "Yes, I am willing to attend the other session" when you registered, there is a chance we will put you into the other session. This is most often the case when you request session 2 as your first choice, and session 1 as your second choice. Session 2 is more popular, so we will sometimes put people into session 1 in order to give as many people as possible a WA experience. This is most likely to occur if you register for session 2 after it is full and we have space in session 1.

If you indicated "Maybe, please contact me to discuss my options if my preferred session is not available," then you may receive a call or email during the summer about placing you into a different session.


When you register, you will be asked to rank your top four trip choices. We manage to put MOST people on one of their top 2 choices. However, depending on what you registered for and when you registered, there's a chance you'll get your 3rd or 4th choice. But, don't worry!!! The PEOPLE make the trip, not the activity, and you will have a great time no matter what trip you are on.

In very rare cases, you may get a difficulty level that you didn't register for. This is most common when someone registers for a harder trip and we don't have space, so we put them on a slightly easier trip of the same activity. We generally don't put people onto trips harder than they signed up for.

In cases where we are having a really hard time getting you onto one of your preferred trips, we'll usually call you to talk it over before placing you.

Yes! If you sign up for WA Session 1, you can also go on any other pre-orientation program. This option also works for Alumni Memorial Scholars and International Student Orientation. Please double check the dates for your other program before signing up for WA. Please note that you will need to make your own arrangements for the time between the end of WA session 1 and the start of any other pre-orientation program.

Arrival, Move-in, and Orientation

There are a variety of travel options depending on where you are coming from. Colgate has an overview of your options here.

Unfortunately, you cannot arrive to campus early for WA.

Due to the need for a coordinated arrival day in order to ensure proper arrival day policies and protocols are followed, early arrivals for WA are not possible. If your travel plans have you coming into town prior to the morning of WA Arrival Day, you will need to make your own plans for accommodations. You can find a list of nearby Hotels & Accommodations here. You can also find more details about how to travel to campus here.

For more details on how arrival for WA will look, take a look at our Schedule page which gets updated with specific arrival day info by mid-summer.

For Session 1 trips, residence halls are not ready for move in and in fact, many are still in use by summer programs.

For Session 2 trips, you can move in to your fall residence on WA arrival day.

Check out our schedule page for more information about how the move in process works on WA arrival day. Note that this page is not updated until mid-summer with specific arrival info for this year.

For session 1, there is no on-campus storage for personal belongings between WA Session 1 and the start of Orientation. You can ship up to two large boxes to your Colgate mailing address, which will be available to you at the start of Orientation.

Note: Do not mail yourself anything you will need for your WA trip. Mail can be lost or delayed, which could negatively impact your trip.

Unfortunately, you cannot stay on campus between the end of WA session 1 and the start of any other pre-orientation or new student orientation. 

If you are a student driving a car to campus, you will need to register your car with Campus Safety before you arrive, pick up your parking permit from the Campus Safety Office upon arrival, and you will be able to park your car in the first-year lot during WA.

Your WA Session 2 trip will end the same day that Orientation begins. You'll be completely done with WA no later than 10:00 a.m. that morning. Even if you already have your room key, you still need to register for Orientation that day at the Hall of Presidents. See the Orientation site for more information and a schedule.

You can find lots more information about orientation on the New Students page.

Other Questions

Please register and pay your deposit by the deadline listed on the Wilderness Adventure homepage, and pay the balance for the trip by the deadline.

There are also two forms to submit, though you should wait until after you receive your trip assignment to submit them. You can find links and more info on our Required Forms page.

Phones are a no go. Before your trip, your leaders will collect your phones (and any other valuables you aren't brining on the trip) and we will store them under lock and key while you are out on your trip. Mobile service is sketchy at best in the Adirondacks, and having your phone will make you more likely to call or chat your friends and family back home, rather than focusing on the people and experiences right in front of you. Your leaders will carry communication technology to be used in case of an emergency, so don't worry about that.

Some WA leaders choose to spend WA "time free," rising with the sun, eating when you are hungry, and sleeping when you are tired. Others prefer keeping to a more precise schedule. This choice is left up to each trip and leader pair. If you need your watch for a specific reason, be sure to let your leaders know when you arrive.

Since you won't have your phone, bringing a small digital or disposable camera is a great way to remember your trip. If you bring a digital camera, we strongly recommend something rugged (water, dust, drop proof and resistant point-and-shoot cameras are relatively common these days). Or, just grab a disposable and store it in a zip lock bag when not in use. If you do bring a camera, we hope you will share some of your photos with us for use in our Family Weekend slideshow.

We couldn't possibly list all the other electronic devices you might bring. The easiest answer is that if it runs on electricity, then you probably shouldn't bring it. Of course, there are exceptions to every rule (like flashlights!), so if you aren't sure, give us a call and ask.

The short answer is no, you should not. The longer answer is, it depends:

If you have prescription medications, you should absolutely bring those. If you regularly take any over-the-counter medications, bring a supply of those as well. Otherwise, your leaders will carry a comprehensive first aid kit sufficient for the entire trip.

Your group will have lots of food - you won't go hungry. If you have specific dietary needs, restrictions, or allergies, you should note them on your registration/med form so we can try and accommodate you. If we have any questions about your dietary needs, we will likely contact you, and might ask you to bring some of your own food if it is something we cannot easily procure. If you are at all worried about the food you'll be eating on trip, please give us a call, we are happy to chat. You can see a sample menu on our Food and Diet page.

First, take a look at our Food page, which describes a typical menu on a WA.

If you are worried about a specific allergy, or other food issue, definitely contact us to discuss it. Thousands of Colgate students have participated in WA, and we can usually accommodate most food issues and allergies.

Our student staff are also well trained to handle most issues, and are certified in wilderness medicine.

If you have any other concerns, it's also a great idea to contact us to talk about them. You can also contact Colgate Disability Services (315-228-7375) to discuss accommodations.

Feel free to contact us, we're always happy to talk about WA.

Phone: 315-228-6499