Frequently Asked Questions, August Wilderness | Earlham College
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Frequently Asked Questions


In light of COVID-19, Earlham has suspended all college-sponsored travel for the summer term to prioritize the health and well-being of our students, faculty and staff, and the communities we come into contact with along the way.

August Wilderness, our pre-orientation wilderness course with trips to the Uinta Mountains in Utah and Wabakimi Provincial Park in Canada, will not be offered this year.

We are continuing to monitor the situation and hope to be able to offer an alternative wilderness experience for incoming first-year and transfer students pre-orientation. This experience would occur the week before students are due to arrive on campus in a more local region. Announcements concerning pre-orientation wilderness opportunities will be posted here.


The dates are July 25 - August 14, 2020. The course fee ($1,850*) 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).

*course fee may be subject to change

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 or paddling all day and portaging (carrying) your gear are physically challenging activities, 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 November 1, 2019 to May 15, 2020, and 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 $600 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. Your application must be received by May 15, 2020 to be considered*. Award announcements will be sent out by May 25, 2020. You will have until June 1, 2020 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, 2020, your deposit will be available in your Earlham account for any future Earlham College-related expense. Your deposit becomes non-refundable after June 1, 2020, i.e. if you decide to withdraw from August Wilderness after this date, you will forfeit the deposit.

If you cancel between July 1-15, 2020, you are responsible for 50% of the course fee. There are no refunds for the course fee after July 15 each year. Trip cancellation requests must be received in writing to the August Wilderness office:

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 24 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 25) 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 24 and a free shuttle will pick you up at 10 a.m., on Saturday, July 25, 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 25). The program officially ends on Friday, August 14, 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 two "Richmond Re-orientation Days" on August 13-14. Family/friends may come to campus for the program's closing on Friday, August 14, at 11:30 a.m., and may choose to bring student's items then.

Registration will take place on Saturday, July 25, 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).
Arrival -day _2014


Mountain _vanrideGroups 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.

Gear _cleanStudents will return to Indiana on the evening of August 11, 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 14, 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, an Advanced Field Practicum, Earlham passenger van certification, and a full Wilderness First Responder course (facilitated by SOLO Wilderness Medicine School) to qualify for consideration as an 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.

Have more August Wilderness questions?  Email or call 765-983-1790

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Earlham College, an independent, residential college, aspires to provide the highest-quality undergraduate education in the liberal arts and sciences, shaped by the distinctive perspectives of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).

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801 National Road West
Richmond, Indiana
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