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Have you learned about AURORA?

This page covers information regarding URSA, AURORA’s urban service expedition that takes place in Philadelphia, PA. 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 take URSA to the city! 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 in the city, we might as well leave it a little bit better than how we found it. 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 Philadelphia’s 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.

Do I sleep on the street?

Only if you want to. Just kidding; the answer is no. You’ll sleep at sites of cultural and historical significance. Past expeditions have slept at the Chamounix Mansion Hostel, aboard the USS Olympia at the Independence Seaport Museum, and in a tree house at the Philadelphia Zoo!

Does it cost money?

URSA is a three-credit course. Full-time students are billed the flat full-time rate; part-time students are billed the credit rate. The URSA expedition is billed to the fall semester.

There is a class fee of $255. 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 $225.

Where do we meet? Can I park my car?

You’ll meet the URSA expedition at the Chamounix Mansion Hostel in Philadelphia, PA. Transportation to the hostel is your responsibility. More detailed information regarding arrival will be given after registration.

The Chamounix offers parking if you choose to drive rather than find a ride, though parking is at your own risk. Your car will remain parked during the expedition — your transportation throughout the week will be your own two feet. Hoofing it, as they say.  

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!