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Have you learned about AURORA?

This page covers information regarding ORION, AURORA’s longest running expedition that takes place in the wilderness surrounding University Park. To learn about general AURORA issues and concerns regarding physical fitness, required equipment, expected level of experience, and more, visit the AURORA FAQ.


Nestled in the Ridge-and-Valley Appalachians, University Park is surrounded by seemingly endless beauty. ORION takes advantage of Penn State’s location and sends you into the Pennsylvania wilderness. Our most popular expedition, ORION has received the seal of approval from thousands of students. It’s close, it’s your new home, and it’s waiting for you!

ORION sends you backpacking in the rugged, beautiful terrain of central Pennsylvania for several days and nights. You’ll learn how to camp, backpack, and care for both yourself and the environment.

I can do this if I’m enrolled at a different campus?

Yes! Expeditions are available for non-University Park students. We believe ORION is just too fun and too good, so we made it available for all — the exact same expedition, the exact same experience!

What is an ORION LEAP Pride?

Just for our summer enrollees, the ORION LEAP Prides offer an awesome entrance into Penn State! LEAP links the ORION backpacking expedition and its classroom component with a separate class for the summer session. All semester long, you’ll be with the same cohort of incoming students in both classes prior to hitting the trail. It’s a great way to have an even better entrance to Penn State!

The AURORA classroom component for LEAP Prides meet weekly before the expedition. It’ll cover a variety of topics that will prepare you for your trip, along with general college orientation-based topics.

Does it cost money?

ORION is a three-credit course. Full-time students are billed the flat full-time rate for the campus at which they are enrolled; part-time students are billed the University Park credit rate (regardless of which campus they are attending). Phew… are we making sense? Contact us if you need help! All ORION expeditions are billed to the fall semester, except our summer expeditions for LEAP students which are billed to the summer semester.  

There is a class fee of $225 for all participants. This fee will be billed directly to your student account upon registration, and it covers the cost of instruction, special equipment, transportation, camping gear, and food for the expedition.

If you must cancel, please do so by emailing  If you cancel on or after June 1, you will be charged a cancellation fee of $225.

Where do we meet? Can I park my car?

ORION begins on campus at University Park. From there, you will be shuttled into the wilderness after an opening orientation. If you choose to drive yourself, you can reserve (in advance) a week-long parking permit for $25. The parking fee will be billed to your student account. Indicate on your application that you need a parking permit, or call Marie Taylor at (814) 865-3880.

I registered! Now what?

You will receive, via email, the Essential Information Packet containing all necessary information, including detailed travel information and a list of required items.

Pay attention to your course schedule. Due to the nature of Penn State’s registration policies and timeline, KINES 89 will be added to your LionPath schedule no later than then first week of classes for the semester in which you are enrolled. KINES 089 is ORION. If you have submitted your application and received confirmation of your acceptance into the program, consider yourself registered! Do not drop this course or you will lose your spot!

Lastly, check out what we’re up to on Instagram and Facebook as you wait desperately in anticipation for your expedition!