First year students in the Wilderness to Wake pre-orientation program climb at Pilot Mountain State Park.

Embarking on the college journey is an adventure, so why not kick-start it with one? This immersive experience ensures you dive headfirst into college life with an instant circle of friends, mentors, and a wealth of experiences. Over the span of five days in the captivating wilderness of North Carolina, you’ll engage in backpacking, rock climbing, canoeing, camping, and more, all while forging lasting connections with eight other incoming students who share in the excitement.

Guiding each group of first-year students are Outdoor Pursuits staff; not only trained experts but also fellow students who intimately understand the nuances of transitioning to college life. They’ll lead you through the exploration of not just the picturesque landscapes surrounding the area, but also the adjustments and challenges that come with being a college student.

Your W2W experience offers two distinct options:

  • Expedition: Immerse yourself in the wild as you backpack 15-20 miles, camping along the Appalachian Trail and its picturesque surroundings. Cap off your adventure with a thrilling day of whitewater rafting, adding a unique and unforgettable dimension to your journey.
  • Base Camp: For those easing into the great outdoors, Base Camp provides a perfect balance. Nights are spent in comfortable but rustic cabins, while each day brings new outdoor experiences, such as rock climbing, whitewater rafting, and hiking up (and sliding down) waterfalls. It’s an opportunity to savor the beauty of nature while gradually acclimating to the thrilling world of college life.

Wilderness to Wake was quite possibly the best thing I could have done to set myself up for success at WFU. Every day, whether I bump into one of my W2W group members, receive a text from my W2W leaders, or work out with a W2W friend, I’m reminded of how grateful I am to have done this program.” – Abby Deuter (’26)

Important Dates

  • Initial acceptance notifications sent out July 1
  • Final payment and supplemental paperwork due by July 6

Registration Info



Scholarships available. Please indicate your need for financial assistance on the Pre-Orientation application. *Price subject to change.


August 16-21


Outdoor Pursuits


All new undergraduate international students are required to attend Connect@Wake and will receive information about this program with their I-20s.