A wilderness orientation program for incoming first-year Penn State students
Orion, one of the most prominent constellations in the northeastern sky, contains some of the brightest stars in the heavens and acts as a guide for travelers and adventurers. Similarly, the ORION Wilderness Experience is designed to guide incoming Penn State students as they embark on their university adventure. Earn all 3 of your GHA credits as you develop bonds with each other and the natural community.
Depending on which Penn State campus you have been admitted to, we have an ORION session for you! Look in the right sidebar for the ORION dates for your campus.
What Are the Goals of ORION?
ORION is designed to provide you with the opportunity to:
- Engage in fun, physically challenging outdoor experiences
- Understand backpacking as a lifelong physical activity
- Learn how nutrition needs differ in a backpacking setting and discuss meal strategies when living in the elements
- Meet other incoming students and make new friends
- Foster your personal wellness, increase your confidence, and bolster your self-esteem
- Increase your appreciation and care for the natural environment
- Learn outdoor skills that focus on the “Leave No Trace” outdoor living ethics
- Set goals for your first year at Penn State
What Activities Are Included in ORION?
- Five days and four nights of backpacking through the rugged, beautiful terrain of central Pennsylvania
- A follow-up community service project
- On campus meetings to reconnect with your group & learn more about life at Penn State
How Do I Prepare for ORION?
- Bring a positive attitude and be willing to try new things.
- Physically prepare yourself — you will be hiking on variable terrain between two and ten miles each day with a loaded backpack.
- Bring personal gear and appropriate clothing.* (See welcome packet.)
*ORION will provide all group gear, including tents/tarps, stoves, and cookware. Backpacks, sleeping bags, and sleeping pads will also be provided.
What Are the Course Requirements for ORION?
Because ORION is a 3-credit, Penn State course (KINES 089), there are specific requirements to fulfill. You must participate in a positive manner during the entire trip, while also keeping a creative and insightful journal. Additionally, you are required to complete post-trip assignments and attend meetings during the fall semester. More detailed descriptions of these assignments and meetings can be found in the course syllabus
- A welcome packet will be sent via email to confirm your acceptance into the program.
- KINES 089, Wilderness Experience will be listed on your course schedule; DO NOT drop this class or you will lose your space in ORION.
- All students participating in a fall session of ORION must be registered as full-time students. Students in the summer session do not need to be enrolled full-time, and will be charged tuition per credit, based on current rates and Pennsylvania state residency.
- The 3 credits from ORION meet all of the three Penn State General Health Activity requirements (GHA).
Students in this program will have the opportunity to register for RPTM 397, a first-year seminar offered exclusively for AURORA participants. For more information and/or to register for this course, call 814-863-2000.
Students may prefer to attend one of our other programs, the URSA Urban Service Experience program in Philadelphia, the POLARIS North Woods Wilderness experience, or the VEGA West Coast Wilderness experience, all of which are modeled after the ORION program. Check them out and see what program is right for you!
Still have questions about ORION? Visit our Frequently Asked Questions page to learn more!
Thanks to Appalachian Outdoors for their generous support of the ORION program.