Why are some trips not available to students under 18 on the first day of the trip?

Due to Federal and University of California transportation regulations, students under age 18 are considered minors; as such they cannot be transported in our standard 15 passenger vans. We have limited space available for minors on the following trips: Catalina Island Adventure, , Sierra Nevada Backpack from 9/19-9/27 and Tall Ship Sailing. Minor transportation service has been arranged for these programs. Be sure to enroll early on those trips if you will be under age 18 on the first day of your trip.

Does this take the place of college orientation?

NO, it doesn't. You are required to attend a formal orientation by your college. Be aware that some college orientation dates conflict with certain Wilderness Orientation trips so plan ahead.

What time do trips end and when can I fly/bus out or have my parents pick me up?

All trips end at 10am in the morning on the the last date of the trip. Plan to leave campus or have your parents pick you up after 10:00am. We will provide a shuttle to the San Diego airport and arrive at the airport by 11am. If you are flying, do not schedule your departure flight prior to 12pm. 

WO staff will assist with the Res Hall move-in process for trips ending on move-in day.

What if my enrollment time for academic classes conflicts with WO?

Students are encouraged to provide a trusted family member or friend with enrollment directions (as provided by your college). There is no internet access available during any of our trips.

What is not included in the registration fee?

Personal equipment needs (see the equipment lists), snacks you might buy on the road, one celebration dinner that we will have in San Diego on the final night of the trip.

Is there a place for me to store my belongings during the trip?

During the actual trip, all participants can store street clothes and other items not needed during the trip in our Rental Shop.

We can provide storage of residence hall items while you are on your Wilderness Orientation trip. All belongings will be stored in a secured, locked building. Please let us know about any storage needs on the Student Background Form. For easy identification, mark all your belongings with your name and please consolidate your belongings as much as possible. We assume no liability for stored items. You will have access to your stored belongings on the final day of your session.

Surfers carrying boards

What kind of physical shape do I need to be in?

While NO EXPERIENCE is necessary for any of the trips, we strongly recommend you prepare as WO can be physically challenging. If you have an open attitude and a readiness to challenge yourself, we have confidence that you will be able to complete the course. However, you will find that if you are physically fit, you will enjoy the trip that much more.

The Sierra Backpack trips will be physically challenging for most people and you can expect to hike anywhere from 3-8 miles in a day at high elevations while carrying group & personal gear (one-third of your total body weight) on your back. We suggest strengthening and aerobic exercise at least 3 times a week for several weeks prior to the trip. Hiking, running, biking and lap swimming are great forms of exercise. Please purchase hiking boots well in advance of the trip and break them in before you arrive.

The physical challenge of the Sea Kayaking trips will be dependent on water conditions. When calm, the paddling is not overly challenging. When winds or current pick up, the physical challenge increases. No kayaking experience is necessary as instructors will teach all the basic skills needed. Kayakers will paddle their own boat  or share a double and will be expected to carry personal & group gear in the kayak. We suggest you consider push-ups, pull-ups and sit-ups to strengthen the arm, stomach and back muscles that will be used for paddling. The sea kayaking course area can be quite hot, 90+ degrees. We will take advantage of cool times of day for paddling and rest and enjoy cooling off in the water during the hottest times of day. Baja Sea Kayak-Though the Sea of Cortez can be quite calm, sea sickness proves to be a challenge for some participants. Come prepared with sea sickness medicine.

The Canoe trip endures some of the more extreme temperatures, so for most individuals, dealing with the hot temperatures proves to be the biggest obstacle. Your guides will teach all the basic skills needed, and participants will paddle a canoe with one other person and will be expected to carry personal & group gear in the canoe.

The Surf trips will be physically challenging for most people. No experience is necessary, our instructors will teach all the basic skills, and if you're ready, some advanced surfing techniques. We suggest you consider push-ups, pull-ups, and sit-ups to strengthen your core muscles that you'll use most frequently. Swimming can provide an excellent aerobic and strength training background as well. All surf participants must pass a swim test that consists of swimming 200 yards continuously, treading water 2 minute and entering/exiting the surf zone without a surfboard. The swim test form is included required trip forms

*We are more than willing to work with participants who may require adaptive solutions. Please call the Director for more information at a minimum of 30 days in advance of the trip start.

What is a "Solo"?

On each 9 day trip we will offer solos. A solo is simply time set aside for solitary personal reflection. Solo duration is dependent on the trip, but lasts up to 24 hours. There is no travel involved in a solo; in fact, participants are expected to stay within a certain area that is selected by the WO leaders. They are strategically placed so that they have the feeling of being on their own, yet in a spot that is within whistling distance from the base camp where the leaders will be stationed. Students are given all the equipment and water they need to remain in that place overnight.  Each participants are given the option to fast or have enough food for the solo duration.

Students are encouraged to remain on their solo for the fully allotted time (usually 24 hours), but they are always given the option to end their solo at any time. Participants may use their solo time to sleep, think, journal, or work on specific activities that leaders suggest for college goal setting and the like. The Solo Experience proves to be an invaluable experience for most WO participants. It allows students a unique opportunity to focus solely on themselves, on their fears, on their goals, and on their personal strengths.

Miniature solo reflections times are incorporated in to most 5 day trips, but these trips are not long enough to have a full solo experience.

Calm River
Who are the leaders?

Each group is led by at least two leaders, most of whom are UCSD students or alumni. Each leader has an extensive background leading groups in the outdoors, and is trained in First Aid & CPR. In addition, at least one guide in each team traveling in a wilderness environment has a Wilderness First Responder certification. Guides combine this experience with a leadership style that promotes positive group dynamics and personal growth. Most groups are  joined by a volunteer who recently completed their first year at UCSD. These volunteers provide valuable insights and information about how to succeed in the 1st year of college. Check out our staff page for more information.

What is the cancellation policy? 

Please visit our Wilderness Orientation cancellation page.

How is WO affiliated with UCSD?

WO is an official orientation program offered by UC San Diego. WO is organized by Outback Adventures, a program of UC San Diego RecreationOutback Adventures provides many programs for the UC San Diego community. Visit the main Outback webpage for more information about other Outback Adventures programs.

Alcohol, drugs, and tobacco?

No alcohol, tobacco (smoked or chewed), or illicit drugs will be allowed at any time during the program. This is not only in consideration of others, but also a serious safety concern.

This policy will be strictly enforced; students found violating this will be asked to leave the program immediately and financially responsible for all evacuation costs. Any prescription drugs that students bring should be in their prescription bottles showing the doctor's name.


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