WILD Pre-Orientation Program

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Wilderness Introduction to Life at Dickinson (WILD) Pre-Orientation programs give incoming first years the opportunity to interact with their new backyard through a variety of outdoor activities including canoeing, rock climbing, rafting, and backpacking. WILD provides students with the space to build lasting relationships, enhance outdoor skills, and gain an appreciation for the natural world all before orientation begins.

Program Overview 

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The WILD program is offered as one option through the pre-orientation program run through the Office of New Student Programs. Incoming first years will learn about registering for the programs through communications about orientation and on the New Student Program page.

During the inaugural year of WILD in 2014, we offered three trips which brought a total of thirty first years on trips. In 2015, we grew the program to nine trips and over 100 first year participants. We are excited to continue to develop the program for years to come to get as many first years outside as possible.

WILD Trip Description 

Each WILD trip differs in location and activity. Past trips have white water rafted in Ohiopyle, PA, backpacked in the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon and in the Delaware Water Gap, taken part in trail work in Michaux State Forest, and rock climbed at Shaffer's Rock. The trips are meant to both challenge first years with new activities and experiences and to support first years in their transition to Dickinson academically, co-curricularly, and socially. All trips are student led by student leaders who go through four months of training- we call them our WILD Guides. You can be sure that you will learn new outdoor skills, make new friends, meet student mentors, and get many of your questions about Dickinson answered all while enjoying the recreational opportunities Pennsylvania has to offer. 

WILD Guides 

WILD guides climbing

Each fall, we seek passionate first years, sophomores, and juniors to participate in the WILD training program and lead the pre-orientation trips. The application process takes place each November. To apply to be a WILD guide, contact outdooror@dickinson.edu.

WILD guides join a community of lovers of the outdoors. Together, we go through four months of training to prepare for the August trips. Trainings include basic water rescue, Wilderness First Aid, Leave No Trace Outdoor Ethics Trainer, and the WILD guide retreat. Leaders will come out of this training with the interpersonal and outdoor skills necessary to lead successful WILD trips that provide an incredible outdoor experience and transition experience to all first years who participate in the program.   

Frequently Asked Questions 

Once I am registered for a WILD program, how do I know what to bring and who my leaders are?

At the beginning of June, you will receive an email from your trip leaders with a welcome packet full of all the information you need to prepare for the trip. You will receive a message from either your trip leaders or the program coordinator each month with updates. If your questions are not answered in the June welcome packet, you can always contact outdooror@dickinson.edu.

How many people go on a WILD trip?

There are between nine and sixteen first years on each WILD trip. The first years are lead by two student WILD guides and one first year mentor.

Do I need to own all my own equipment?

The Dickinson Outing Club and the Office of Campus Recreational Programs will provide all the group gear for the trips (tents, tarps, stoves, food, etc.). First years will receive a gear request form in June to indicate what personal gear items they would like to borrow from Dickinson. Gear available to be borrowed include headlamps, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, dry bags, backpacking packs, climbing shoes, climbing harnesses, and climbing & caving helmets. First years are expected to provide their own clothing including outerwear (Ex: rain coat, warm hat, and hiking boots) and other items on the packing list provided. 

What do we eat?

Part of the WILD guide training is cooking delicious meals in the backcountry, so you will be eating well. All dietary restrictions are accounted for in the menu planning process, and we will contact you if we have any questions. If you have concerns about the food, please contact us!

What if I do not know how to backpack, climb, or canoe?

Even more reason to sign up! These trips have no prerequisites except that you are excited to meet new people and try something new. The student WILD guides are trained to work with all skill levels and are excited to introduce people to new outdoor activities. In the past, the trips have had a mixture of first years with experience in that activity area as well as students that have never done the activity before this trip.