- Take a Pre-Orientation wilderness trip. These end-of-summer trips, typically led by current students, take new freshman backpacking, paddling, or mountain climbing for a few days with other incoming freshmen before orientation. These trips are a great opportunity to learn about the recreation opportunities around your campus and head into orientation already knowing a group of people. As an upperclassmen you can lead and organize these trips to return that sense of adventure to a new class.
- Join an outdoor club. Some schools have clubs specific to a sport– rock climbing, kayaking, hiking, mountaineering– while others have one central outdoor club or program that runs numerous types of trips. Trips can range from beginner friendly around town to serious rock climbing adventures at Joshua Tree and are usually student led. Look into your outdoor club options at the rec center, or check out the athletic department on campus for a list of their resources. One perk of joining? Outdoor programs are also a way to network for some sweet and active summer jobs.
- Use the gear rental center early and often. Most universities have a gear center on campus that offers super cheap or free rentals for a variety of outdoor equipment, including things as exciting as kayaks or rafts, or as necessary as sleeping bags and stoves for a weekend trip.
- Get trained. Avalanche Certification, Wilderness First Aid, Swift Water Rescue: these classes and more might be offered at your future college, often at a discounted rate for students. Outdoor education classes are a great way to build on skills you already have or to build your confidence.
- Practice at the gym or rock climbing wall. Are you too busy studying to hit the peaks or slopes every weekend? Stay in shape and practice at the university’s gym. Many universities and colleges have indoor climbing walls, pools and gym equipment. If a state-of-the-art gym is important to you, this is a great thing to look into ahead of time on their website, particularly if the winters are long and hard, or if your course load prevents you from exploring too much off campus.
6. Sign up for a semester program. There are a number of interesting semester-long courses that are offered to students regardless of which university you attend. A few examples include Semester At Sea, Outward Bound Semester, or NOLS semester. Make sure ahead of time that the credit transfers, but you can always look outside your school’s offerings and see if other programs offer what it might lack.