We are excited you are looking to enroll in Wilderness Orientation and understand you may have some questions or concerns regarding the risks associated with outdoor adventure. We strongly believe that most individuals will be physically and mentally capable of completing a WO course, as the trips are designed to meet the needs of both the novice outdoors-person and the seasoned veteran. We hope that the information outlined below will provide you with further insight into our program; if not, please do not hesitate to contact us with questions or concerns.
While participating on most WO trips, students will sleep outdoors, experience long, physically demanding days, set up their own camp, and prepare their own meals. Similar to life at college, each student is expected to take good care of him or herself. Although we always hope for sunshine and smiles, there are some inherent risks and hazards associated with our programs such as:
Rough Terrain: scree/boulder fields, rough footing, high passes, oceans, rivers, currents, surf zones, off trail, bushwhacking, etc.
Inclement Weather: cold (possibly below freezing), rain, snow, extreme heat (over 100 degrees), lightning, wind, constant sun, etc.
Animals/Insects: bears, ticks, venomous marine and land animals or insects, mosquitoes etc.
Remote Locations: in some areas, up to 48 hours to hospital care, challenges to communication, etc.
Technical Skills: such as surf landings, peak ascents and descents, heavy (up to 50 pounds) backpacks, moving heavy canoes and kayaks (up to 200 pounds), sea kayaking, canoeing skills, horseback riding
The health and safety of our students and staff are a top priority, as is the effective education of our students. We do all that we can to manage these associated risks to ensure the well-being and enjoyment of both students and staff. To achieve these goals for a group in a wilderness setting, each student must be fully committed to and capable of working hard, taking responsibility for him/herself, and working effectively in the group. Individuals can further help us achieve these goals by coming well prepared for their trip (bringing the required equipment, training physically and mentally, breaking in boots, etc.).
Outback Adventures has been in operation since 1978 and we incorporated Wilderness Orientation into our programming in 1990. We operate our courses several course areas: Sequoia Kings Canyon (since 1990), Baja California (since 1992), the Colorado River (since 1994), San Jacinto Wilderness (since 1994), Catalina Island (since 2011), sailing the Southern California Pacific Coast (since 2011). We strive to connect and maintain relationships with local experts to maintain awareness of local issues, current conditions, and raise our knowledge of the area. For more information regarding our course areas, please visit our trips page.
We pride ourselves on training and hiring qualified staff. All staff members go through an extensive staff training program, involving technical skills, leadership, environmental ethics, educational techniques, wilderness skills and conflict resolution. Each program operating in a wilderness environment will have at least one leader with a Wilderness First Responder (a 72 hour first aid, wilderness medicine and emergency response course), a California Commercial Driver's License, and experience in the course location.
We understand there may be additional concerns while traveling abroad and that for some students, this may be their first experience out of the United States. We do our best to stay abreast of current political issues, cultural practices, and changing conditions. While the focus of our trips is primarily about building community within the group and learning new skills, we encourage our students to engage in cultural exchanges and conversations as appropriate. We believe that by identifying and returning year after year to course locations, cultivating strong relationships with locals, and training our staff to manage situations well, the benefits of exploring these areas outweigh the risks sometimes associated with international travel. We respect the opportunity to continue working with our Mexican neighbors. ALL participants on a trip travelling to Baja California MUST bring a valid U.S. Passport (valid through 12/31/13).
One of the benefits of participating in a University sponsored trip, such as WO, is that all students will be covered by the UC Travel insurance for free! We will take care of this insurance registration, but if you would like to get more information, please view the documentation (doc) and FAQ (doc) provided by the UC Office of the President. You do not have to individually register for travel insurance; it is included in the program.
This coverage is intended to provide some immediate treatment for medical emergencies arising from accidents sustained and sudden illnesses contracted during the course of the travel while participating in University activities. Students must continue to maintain their own personal health insurance. In the event of a serious or catastrophic accident or sickness, this insurance will not be sufficient to provide full coverage, and students will need other personal health insurance.