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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2016 wilderness trips

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 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.


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:
  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.

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 ($485 for the North Channel Sea Kayaking trips, $475 for the Lake Superior trip, $599 for the Rocky Mountain trip, $450 for the Red River Rock Climbing trip, $299 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.