Penn State requires all students, faculty, staff, and visitors — regardless of vaccination status — to wear masks indoors at all campuses. Learn more about Penn State's health guidelines.


Have you learned about AURORA?

This page covers information regarding URSA, AURORA’s service expedition that takes place this year 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.

Do I sleep on the street?

Only if you want to. Just kidding; the answer is no. You’ll sleep outside at Shaver’s Creek Environmental Center — our home base!

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 $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 $225.

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 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 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!