Wilderness Orientation Weekend (WOW)

Each year, the Wilderness Program offers some special programming just for incoming first-year students: Wilderness Orientation Weekends, or WOW's.

WOW is a three-day field intensive program specifically designed to provide incoming first-year students with the opportunity to experience New England's unique wilderness areas for themselves. Whether it is backpacking, sea kayaking, whitewater kayaking or climbing, students have a unique opportunity to challenge themselves, meet future classmates and develop wilderness living and leadership skills.

Before classes begin, WOW participants experience an intimate community of peers where they can share their expectations and learn about life at Saint Michael's. Each WOW expedition is led by two or three highly qualified student, staff, faculty or alumni instructors who have experienced the textures of life at Saint Michael's, possess a passion for the outdoors and are appropriately credentialed in various outdoor disciplines. The expedition leaders stand suited to guide incoming students through the challenges that these programs present, teach the skills necessary for students to experience outdoor pursuits in a fun learning environment with minimal environmental impact, as well as give perspective on academic, social, volunteer and athletic opportunities for incoming students.

WOW 2013: Two sessions this summer!

July 12 (Academic Orientation Day) 13,14,15

Day Hiking
Multi-sport: Rock Climbing, White Water Kayaking and Hiking
Sea Kayak

July 19 (Academic Orientation Day) 20,21,22

Day Hiking
Multi-Sport: Rock Climbing, White Water Kayaking and Hiking
Sea Kayaking

How much experience is needed?

There is no experience necessary to participate in any of the WOW Programs. While these programs are not designed to push you to edge of your physical threshold they are physical in nature; therefore we ask that students be in good physical condition, be willing to explore the parameters of their comfort zone and possess a positive attitude. In addition, it is mandatory that students participating in the kayaking programs know how to swim. Backpacking and hiking programs generally travel between 4 and 8 miles each day, and can be rigorous. The Sea kayaking program travels up to 10 nautical miles per day weather permitting. The Climbing program is designed for beginner climbers or recreational climbers wishing to develop their skills and will involve some hiking during the approach to different crags.

What is a Saint Michael's WOW Leader?

They are a strange breed to say the least! Our student, staff, alumni and faculty leaders, like you, come from a variety of academic and social backgrounds but all share an affinity for the outdoors. In fact, many of our leaders were participants on WOW. All leaders have completed an intensive leadership curriculum that includes over 120 hours of classroom training, field exercises, SOLO Wilderness First Responder and CPR; rock instructors have completed the American Mountain Guide Association, Top-Rope Site Managers Course and/or the SMC Top Rope Facilitators Course. Sea kayak Instructors have completed an Inland Sea Kayak Guide Training and Assessment and received training and certification through the British Canoe Union. Whitewater Instructors are either BCU Inland Coaches or ACA Whitewater Kayak Instructors. Student leaders are chosen for their ability to make quality decisions and create a safe learning environment. In addition, they have all spent hours mastering the art of having fun.

How many students can go? Is it bad for Mama Earth?

In order to reduce our environmental impact and keep a small group setting, we only allow six participants and two or three leaders on each trip. Therefore, spaces are extremely limited. If this is something that you would like to do we encourage you to apply immediately. The Wilderness Programs cares about our environment and all trips will abide by the low impact skills and ethics outlined in "Leave No Trace, North East Mountains."

Program Fees:

The cost for all WOW programs is $215.00. This includes all equipment (excluding personal clothing and footgear), meals, transportation, permit fees and instruction.

I Still Have Questions

If you have any additional questions or just want to talk with someone at Saint Michael's please contact the Wilderness Program at 802.654.2614 or email our student WOW Coordinator Gina Pandolfo gpandolfo@mail.smcvt.edu.

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