Frequently Asked Questions

Who is Wilderness Based Orientation intended for?

Any incoming new student, including transfers. WBO is designed to serve as an adventure-based orientation for all new Western students. If you have been admitted to Western for the fall semester, you are welcome to participate in WBO.

It is not just for folks who know their way around the outdoors. On the contrary, WBO is for any student who is interested in having an awesome experience, is ready to learn a new skill and wants to get to know their new home in the Gunnison Valley. No prior experience is required to participate, you just need to be physically and mentally prepared for the challenge.

How do I sign up for WBO?

Online through your MyWestern account! Students must be registered for classes before signing up for a WBO trip. From the Main Menu of your account, follow the link to register for WBO. Registration opens June 3. Students must be registered for classes before they register for WBO through their MyWestern Account. Trips are automatically removed from the list once they are full, so only open courses will be visible after June 3.

Do I still need to attend New Student Orientation?

Yes. On-campus New Student Orientation is mandatory for all first-time freshmen and transfer students with 23 credits or less. WBO courses are offered as supplemental programs to New Student Orientation, not as a substitute.

What do I need to bring?

You will need to provide your own clothing, personal items and basic outdoor gear including a backpack and sleeping bag appropriate for the course you will participate in. All technical equipment needed for your trip will be provided by WBO. Please see individual gear lists for each course. Select your Wilderness Based Orientation course to see what gear you need. We have a very limited number of packs and sleeping bags available for rent.

How hard is it?

Each WBO expedition is different. The amount of skill and physical difficulty of each particular expedition is explained in the Course Description and Essential Eligibility Requirements. It can be very challenging to acclimate to our high-altitude backcountry courses (backpacking and mountaineering) if coming from at or near sea level. We recommend at least three days of acclimation in the Gunnison Valley before attempting one of those trips, and even that is no guarantee of success. We do everything we can to accommodate participants without changing the nature of the trip. Please see Essential Eligibility requirements and Course Descriptions on the course descriptions on this site for further details. 

What does the trip cost go toward and when is payment due?

The fee is used to cover the direct costs of the expedition such as transportation, food, equipment, permits and staff stipend. The fee does not cover the cost of overhead such as the Director's salary or facilities usage. There is a $250 non-refundable deposit due upon registration and the remainder will be charged to your student account and is due on the first day of school. Log on to your My Western account to view and pay your bill. You may also call the Cashier's Office at 970.943.3003 to pay your bill with a credit card over the phone.

What do I need to do to secure my place on a WBO course?

1. Register online by logging on to your MyWestern account and follow the link on the Main Menu.

2. Pay the $250 deposit.

3. Complete all documents in the WBO packet that will be emailed to you mid-June and return to the WBO office by July 13.

Is financial assistance available?

Yes! WBO is proud to offer scholarships for those with financial need and who exemplify the values of WBO. Scholarship applications are due July 1. Applicants will be contacted regarding their standing by July 15. 

What is your safety record?

Our program has an excellent safety record. WBO trip leaders hold current Wilderness First Responder medical certifications. The program is administered by a full-time professional with 15 years of outdoor programming and guiding experience and is fully backed by Western Colorado University.

Can I move into my Residence Hall before WBO begins?

Yes. Students attending a WBO course may move into their room the day prior to WBO course departure. This gives you time to safely store your belongings before you leave. Go directly to your residence hall between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. to check into your room and get your key.

What meals will be provided during WBO?

We will feed you three meals a day plus snacks starting with breakfast on the first day of your course and ending with a closing BBQ. You can use your dining plan starting the following morning at Rare Air Cafe.

Can friends and family attend a WBO course?

No. Courses are available to incoming new Western students only.

What is your refund policy if I choose to cancel my trip?

  1. The $250 deposit is non-refundable.
  2. Trip cost refunds are available until July 29, 2019.
  3. WBO reserves the right to change program locations, itineraries, group size and instructor ratio should the need arise due to weather, water levels, closures of public lands, staffing, equipment, safety or program issues.