August Wilderness FAQs

As an introduction to the essentials of wilderness travel, our August Wilderness course will teach you not only about skills for successful travel, leadership and the environment around you, but also about yourself— new strengths and perspectives and perhaps even new passions.

As you contemplate this grand adventure, we expect you to have some questions, and we’ve provided answers below for those most commonly asked.

The dates are July 27-August 16, 2024. The course fee ($1,950) covers tuition, food, transportation, all group equipment, and instruction. Three credits are earned toward overall graduation requirements (however, no general education/distribution requirements are met).

Absolutely not! In fact, the vast majority of students who participate in August Wilderness have little to no experience on a trip of this type. We design the route and activities to ensure that everyone can feel successful on the program. Make no mistake, hiking with a backpack at elevations greater than 8,500 feet is a physically challenging activity, and so we do ask that participants adopt some kind of exercise regime in the months leading up to the trip.

Click here for some suggested strength exercises.

Apply via the online form and confirm your enrollment in August Wilderness by paying the $200 deposit.

Applications are open from February 1, 2024 to June 1, 2024 to first-year students and until June 15, 2024 for transfer students. Positions are filled on a first-come, first-served basis, subject to meeting application criteria. The earlier you turn in your application and deposit, the better the chance of being accepted for the program.

If high enrollment means that no places are available, you may choose to be put on a waitlist, or to be considered for one of our other pre-orientation programs.

We offer need-based scholarships to qualified students. The award is calculated through the financial aid office and, at its maximum, accounts for a 50% reduction in program tuition. August Wilderness scholarships do not affect a student’s financial aid package from the College.

You can apply for financial aid via the application form. First-year applications must be received by June 1, 2024 to be considered. Transfer student applications must be received by June 15, 2024 to be considered. Award announcements will be sent out by June 5, 2024. You will have until June 15, 2024 to confirm your acceptance of the award.

Once you are confirmed and we have received your paperwork, the course fee (less your $200 deposit) will automatically be charged to your Earlham account. Your deposit of $200 and any financial aid awarded will appear as an account credit.

If you decide to withdraw from August Wilderness prior to June 1, 2024, your deposit will be available in your Earlham account for any future Earlham College-related expense. Your deposit becomes non-refundable after June 15, 2024.

If you cancel between June 15-30, 2024, you are responsible for 50% of the course fee. There are no refunds for the course fee after June 30 each year. Trip cancellation requests must be received in writing to the August Wilderness office: [email protected].

All common group gear (backpacks, cooking equipment, tents, sleeping bags, etc.) is provided by the program. Students need only provide their own clothing and personal camping supplies (see your enrollment packet for a full gear list).

While students may bring their cell phones on registration day, we ask that you do not bring cell phones or other electronic media devices (tablets, e-readers, etc.) in the field with you. Cameras are permitted. We encourage students to be inclusive, participating, and present, and believe that phones and screens detract from the intention of the trip. In addition, these expensive pieces of equipment are often fragile with limited capabilities in the backcountry. Staff members will have access to communication devices throughout the trip in case of emergency.

We offer a shuttle service to Richmond on Friday, July 26 from the Dayton airport only. The shuttle will run to coordinate with the flight information that you provide during the application process, so please keep us updated if your itinerary changes.

Do not risk flying in on arrival day (Saturday, July 27) due to the risk of flight cancellation or delays.

We have a special group rate at the Quaker Hill Conference Center (+1 765-962-5741) for students arriving on Friday, July 26 and a free shuttle will pick you up at 10 a.m., on Saturday, July 27, to bring you to campus in time for registration.

Students will have the opportunity to store their belongings in secure storage on arrival day (Saturday, July 27). The program officially ends on Friday, August 16, at noon, the day before New Student Orientation begins, but students will have time to retrieve their items, move into their dorm rooms, and settle in during the “Richmond Re-orientation Days” on August 14 and 15. Family/friends may come to campus for the program’s closing on Friday, August 16, at 11:30 a.m., and may choose to bring student’s items then.

Registration will take place on Saturday, July 27, from 9:30-11:00 a.m. EDT (Eastern Daylight Time). During the registration time, instructors and administrators will be present for introductions and last-minute questions. Students will have time to place items for the rest of the semester in storage during that time. An opening ceremony on campus at Stout Meetinghouse commences at 11:15 a.m., and family and friends are welcome to attend. Students are “on course” at lunch-time (approximately noon).

Groups on all courses will travel by 12-passenger van to the course area. We will use the travel time to get to know each other, while completing some introductory classes and activities (interspersed by inevitable naps!). We will stay at state park and roadside campgrounds en route to the course areas. Instructors are trained and certified to drive these vans and follow a strict driving protocol.

Students will return to Indiana on the evening of August 13, and will camp on a farm near campus for the night. Over the next two days there will be organized activities to learn what outdoor opportunities there are in and around Richmond, and scheduled downtime to reacclimatize to Earlham and the Midwest. During this time, students will have a chance to move into their college dorm rooms and collect items from storage. On the morning of Friday, August 16, students will be officially welcomed to Earlham with a final closing ceremony, to be held at approximately 11:30 a.m., on The Heart at the center of campus (family and friends are invited). Saturday is the start of New Student Orientation, at which all new students will be present.

The 21-day program breaks down to approximately a day of orientation at the start of the trip, 3 travel days to and from the activity site, 11 days in the wilderness, and 3 days of re-orientation back in Richmond. There will be no hot showers available from the day you leave campus until you leave the wilderness and start the journey back to Earlham! However, instructors will teach you how to maintain a healthy standard of hygiene (including how to wash your clothes in the backcountry!) and you will have plenty of “bird bath” opportunities as you make use of fresh water from lakes and streams along the way.

For the safety of all participants involved, students and faculty alike, all Earlham off-campus programs require that participants be current on all vaccinations, and supply documentation of these with their health record. There are no exceptions granted, and no vaccination waivers are allowed for August Wilderness. If you have not had vaccinations, please arrange these as soon as possible.

All of our student instructors have been hired based on completion of skills trainings, previous leadership experience, maturity and character. Instructors must have completed Outdoor Trip Leadership (EDUC/AWPE 221-0), an Advanced Field Practicum (EDUC 321), Earlham passenger van certification and a full Wilderness First Responder course (facilitated by SOLO Wilderness Medicine School) to qualify for consideration as a August Wilderness leader.

Accompanying adult staff have varying levels of outdoor leadership training, but bring life experience and group management skills that contribute to judgment and decision-making in safety-related situations. Additionally, all instructor teams carry emergency communication devices that allow them to reach out-of-field emergency contacts and emergency services.

We continue to monitor the effects of an industrial fire 1.1 miles from campus.
We continue to monitor the effects of an industrial fire 1.1 miles from campus.