August Wilderness | Earlham College

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August Wilderness

Start College Early with an Adventure of a Lifetime!

August Wilderness is a pre-orientation experience for incoming first year and transfer students at Earlham College. Since 1971, Earlham students have started their college careers on a wilderness expedition, making new friends, interacting with faculty members, and gaining self-confidence and self-sufficiency. It is very simply the best way to start your college career.

But don't just take our word for it, check out our testimonials from the national media, past participants, faculty and parents.

Listen to an Earlham Podcast where Center for Integrated Learning Director Jay Roberts and previous faculty leader Gail Clark discuss the program and its outcomes.


Mountain Wilderness
Mountain Wilderness

Utah's rugged Uinta Mountains are the site of this expedition. It is a spectacular range of alpine meadows, rocky summits and glacial lakes.

Water Wilderness
Water Wilderness

Western Ontario's beautiful "Caribou Forest" is the site of this course. It is a unique wilderness waterway of lakes, rivers, bogs and northern boreal forest.


Applications for the 2016 adventure will be available soon; the deadline will be May 1!

Program Goals

The August Wilderness experience is different for everyone, but our student and faculty instructors aim to facilitate a trip that encourages growth, self-discovery, and learning, in whatever facets of life that may take place.  Below are some of the program goals we focus on in order to foster a meaningful experience for all.

Provide adventure for students whose lives are too often those of spectators, in the hopes that real experience, and grappling directly with some of the real issues of life and survival will enlist in the students a new enthusiasm for living and a new seriousness of purpose.

Afford students an opportunity to improve their physical condition and to take their bodies more seriously, as well as to regard as more important the physical side of life.

Give students a range of experience designed to nourish their self-confidence, develop their initiative, increase their self-reliance, and enable to expand their powers of judgment.

Help orient incoming students to Earlham College, its life, purposes, and nature as a community.  This is done through granting incoming students the advantages of several weeks of intimate acquaintance with some of their peers, and by providing opportunities for consideration and comparison of life in small wilderness communities, and the expected shape of life back on campus.

Introduce students, through conversations, informal presentations, and a wilderness experience, to small group or small community dynamics, and to make students more aware of the nature of community, human interdependence, and leadership.

Offer to students a new model of teaching and learning, one in which students teach each other, learn from experience by trial and error and discussion afterwards, and take advantage of faculty as resource persons and co-learners. 

Through all of these goals, give students real responsibility and leadership, and a keener capacity for judgment.

Open to students new interests, by turning from the wilderness experience itself to some of the academic disciplines, including natural history, botany, zoology, ecology, geology, regional history, human relations, and other areas to show how the academic disciplines can illuminate and make more clear the meaning of experience.

Provide opportunities to build meaningful and unique relationships with new peers.  Though some friendships may change once on campus, the experience of learning about others in the raw, very real context of the wilderness can often spur lifelong relationships and understanding of others.


For more than 40 years, August Wilderness has been instrumental in helping students transition to college and life at Earlham. 

Read more

Place _2015Looking for something a little closer to home? Check out a NEW week-long pre-orientation, PLACE (Perspectives on Living and Community Engagement) based in Richmond, Indiana. 


Backpacking _group _jump_cropThe Outdoor Education Program aims to foster personal, social and academic growth while exploring the natural world.

Related Links


Have a Question Regarding August Wilderness?


August Wilderness Program
Earlham College
801 National Road West
Richmond, IN 47374
Phone: (765) 983-1893
Fax: (765) 973-2656

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