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Have you learned about AURORA?

This page covers information regarding URSA, AURORA’s service expedition that takes place in the State College, PA community. To learn about general AURORA issues and concerns regarding physical fitness, required equipment, expected level of experience, and more, visit the AURORA FAQ.


We believe everyone has the strength and courage to backpack in the wilderness. Unfortunately, sometimes folks don’t take us for our word. As much as we believe everyone is capable, we equally believe that the AURORA experience is crucial for easing the transition from high school into college. So we decided to meet everyone halfway and bring URSA to civilization! No (or fewer) weird bugs, no digging a hole for a toilet — just the stuff you want.

We believe strongly in caring for the environment. Part of that is taking care of each other. And since we find ourselves living in communities, we might as well leave them a little bit better than how we found them. Giving back to communities who ask for help is fun and rewarding and it always leads to powerful relationships. All AURORA expeditions offer transformative experiences, but URSA remains unique in its service.

What kind of service?

Prior expeditions have been up to all sorts of good! A lot of projects are aimed at either revitalizing a community or beautifying green spaces. Many expeditions have worked for — and alongside — senior citizens and school students. The project(s) you’ll pursue is dependent on several factors, of which the most significant is connecting with a community actively asking for help.

Where will I sleep?

You’ll sleep in an outdoor pavilion at Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center — AURORA’s home base!

Does it cost money?

URSA is a 3-credit course. Tuition rates will vary depending on enrollment status and other potential variables. The URSA expedition is billed to the fall semester. For details regarding your specific tuition charges, please visit to explore the tuition calculator or to find contact information to reach out to the Bursar Office with questions.

There is a class fee of $295. 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 email at  If you cancel on or after June 1, you will be charged a cancellation fee of $295.

Where do we meet? Can I park my car?

URSA begins on campus at University Park. From there, you will be shuttled to Shaver’s Creek after an opening orientation. If you choose to drive yourself, you may park your vehicle on-site for the duration of your expedition. Further instructions will be given when you arrive.

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 URSA. 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!