Wilderness Based Orientation

Scholarships

PLEASE NOTE: Scholarships associated with academic programs usually have a specific scholarship application form that can easily be obtained by contacting that academic program's office or visiting that academic program's web page.

If you have any questions, please contact the Financial Aid office at 970.943.3085 or 800.876.5309.

Wilderness Based Orientation Scholarship

The mission of Wilderness Based Orientation (WBO) is to enhance student success while transitioning into college.  We do this by engaging students in the intensive social, physical, and educational atmosphere of a structured wilderness expedition.  During these expeditions, WBO aims to develop the strength and quality of character necessary for collegiate success.  These qualities include tenacity, honesty, craftsmanship, compassion, intrinsic motivation, and leadership.  Through WBO, we attempt to shape the culture of the freshman class by exposing students to the values held by Western Colorado University.  These values include learning, critical thinking, knowledge, education, leadership, fun, service to others, community, citizenry, environmental stewardship, and healthy lifestyles. 

**Application Deadline:  July 1st **

Scholarship applicants should meet the following criteria:​

Accepted Western student enrolled in classes for the upcoming fall semester
Registered to participate in Wilderness Based Orientation
Registered to attend New Student Orientation
Demonstrate financial need
Exemplify the values of the Wilderness Based Orientation (WBO) Program.   

Full and partial scholarships are available to qualified applicants.

Apply

Directory

Begin your Western experience with an outdoor adventure!

General Information

WBO is an opportunity for you to meet other new students, make meaningful connections, build friendships and get to know the incredible recreational opportunities that Gunnison has to offer before you begin your first semester at Western. All WBO courses take place in August. Registration opens June 3, through your MyWestern account. Students must be registered for classes before they can register for WBO courses.

With WBO, you will be part of a group discovering what the great outdoors and the Colorado backcountry have to offer. Each WBO course is led by qualified student instructors who will give you instruction on both the adventurous activities and your upcoming college experience.

All WBO trips are five days long. Participants may move into on-campus housing a day before their trip departs. WBO trips are individually priced, ranging between $595 and $1,200. These prices are based on extra travel, permitting, equipment needs and working with outside companies, like Adrift Adventures, to coordinate the trips. 

Financial assistance for students is available through the​ WBO Scholarship.

Questions?
Please feel free to contact the WBO office: 
970.943.2290 | wbo@western.edu

Whitewater Rafting: $1,200

Course Description

On this exciting trip, you will paddle 44 miles on the Green River through Lodore Canyon, Whirlpool Canyon and Split Mountain Canyon. Over the course of the trip, expect to encounter 20 rapids up to class III. Other highlights include hiking and exploring geologic wonders while camping under starry skies under towering sandstone walls—an adventure to remember for your entire college career. Professional guides, food and all equipment will be provided.

Registration opens June 3, 2019. 

Course Itinerary

This course starts by heading to Dinosaur National Monument for a day of camping before the journey down river begins. The next day will be spent organizing equipment and getting on the water to begin the four-day adventure. Along the way there will be flatwater, whitewater rapids, hiking, camping and more. Four days later, the river emerges from Split Mountain Canyon. We will then break all the gear down and will return to Gunnison on the Aug. 21. This trip lasts one day longer than other WBO trips due to transportation time. For a map of the route, email WBO@western.edu.

Students must register through MyWestern after registration opens June 3.

Rock Climbing: $595

Course Description

Take part in one of the most popular sports at Western: rock climbing. This course caters to beginning and intermediate climbers. Your trained instructors will take you through the basics of climbing equipment and technique to help you develop your skills. Experience the beauty of the Gunnison Valley firsthand, all while having fun and building new friendships! This is a front-country trip—we camp in primitive, developed campsites close to roads and climbing sites.

Registration opens June 3, 2019.

Itinerary

The Gunnison area contains a wide variety of climbing opportunities, from the clean granite of Taylor Canyon, to steep sport climbing in the San Juans and world-class bouldering in Crested Butte. This course will provide instruction in basic belay technique and use of climbing equipment. We will travel around the local crags to camp and climb on the easily approachable rocks in the Gunnison area.  We will top-rope routes of all difficulties, from beginner to advanced. Nights will be spent around the campfire in a front-country campground. This course is capped at 10 participants.

Students must register through MyWestern after registration opens June 3.

Multisport Adventure: $595

Course Description

Enjoy a sample of what the Gunnison Valley has to offer with this multi-sport adventure. This course will take you hiking through majestic alpine vistas, stand-up paddleboarding through narrow canyons and much more. Depending on group interest and experience, there is potential to try rock climbing, mountain biking or rafting. No technical experience required.

Registration opens June 3, 2019.

Itinerary

This is a front-country course with car camping in established, primitive campgrounds. Your nights will be spent around the campfire, getting to know each other and what it takes to succeed at Western. 

Students must register through MyWestern after registration opens June 3.

Mountaineering: $595

Course Description

The Gunnison Valley is an ideal place for an introduction to mountaineering. This trip will teach you the essentials for a successful mountaineering trip including trip planning, navigation, backpacking and alpine climbing. This fast-paced and rewarding course requires carrying a large backpack at high altitudes (12,000 feet-plus). Expect to be physically challenged, learn new skills and build an effective team. This is a backcountry trip with camping in unestablished sites at high altitudes.

Registration opens June 3, 2019.

Itinerary

You will learn how properly to pack your backpack, climb in the alpine and set up a proper alpine campsite keeping LNT (Leave No Trace) principles in mind. From there you will head into the backcountry and spend four days climbing peaks, and camping next to high alpine lakes. Depending on the weather, your group will have the chance to climb Guides Ridge on Mt. Crested Butte—a true Gunnison Valley classic! While not required, experience with backpacking and rock climbing, as well as a higher level of fitness, will be especially helpful in this course. The course is capped at eight participants.

Students must register through MyWestern after registration opens June 3.

Whitewater Kayaking: $695

Course Description

Experience firsthand one of the fastest growing adventure sports—whitewater kayaking. Your instructors will guide you through the training process, equipping you with the essential expertise, techniques and safety precautions necessary to venture down the rapids. Beginner and intermediate paddlers are welcome. Tackling the challenge of navigating the rivers of the Gunnison Valley will surely be a rewarding experience. This is a front-country trip with camping in established, primitive campsites close to roads and the river. Register early. This trip usually fills quickly, and is limited to eight participants.

Registration opens June 3, 2019.

Itinerary

The course begins at the Western pool where you will learn how to wet exit and practice rolling your kayak in a warm, non-threatening environment. From there you will move to Blue Mesa Reservoir, Colorado's largest body of water, located just west of Gunnison. You will spend the day learning paddle strokes and braces as you play fun games such as kayak polo and have relay races. Once the group feels more confident in their boats, you will move to the Gunnison River where you will paddle a class I-II stretch of water. This course progresses as you progress offering increasingly more challenging whitewater as the group is ready for it. The culmination of this course is on the Upper Taylor River, a class III stretch of whitewater running through beautiful Taylor Canyon. Evenings will be spent in a front-country camp setting where you will have fun playing games and getting to know your fellow classmates.

Students must register through MyWestern after registration opens June 3.

Sea Kayaking: $595

Course Description

This is a backcountry course with nights spent camping on the shores of the lake. Students will explore Blue Mesa Reservoir, Colorado's largest body of water, while touring atop flat water in a personal sea kayak. They carry within the kayak all that is needed to camp along the water's edge. This relaxing trip will be a great way to have an extremely unique adventure, learn valuable skills and spend quality time with peers. Students should be prepared to paddle several miles each day through a beautiful landscape under a variety of weather conditions. Cellular communications are very limited and instructors carry an emergency satellite communications device.

Registration opens June 3, 2019.

Itinerary

You will begin this course learning how to wet exit and pack all your gear into your sea kayak. The first day will be spent learning about group travel in kayaks and stroke techniques. Each participant will have the opportunity to help lead the group on a day of travel. Everyone will have the opportunity to be the navigator, point and/ or sweep for the group. Each day you will paddle in the morning and then spend the afternoon and evenings in activities—playing games, hiking and swimming. Nights will be spent camping along the shores of Blue Mesa in primitive campsites. This course is capped at eight participants.

Students must register through MyWestern after registration opens June 3.

Backpacking: $595

Course Description

This is a backcountry trip with camping in unestablished, wilderness campsites. Students will travel either in the San Juans or the West Elks Wilderness over moderate distances (2-7 miles/day). Take advantage of this opportunity to learn the skills necessary to enjoy camping and traveling in a beautiful backcountry setting. Be prepared to hike several miles a day over passes and peaks at altitudes over 11,000 feet. We highly recommend bringing a camera!

Registration opens June 3, 2019.

Itinerary

This is an entirely backcountry course that will take you deep into the Uncompahgre Wilderness or West Elks Wilderness. You will spend the first day hiking into the backcountry and will be taught how to properly pack your backpack and practice Leave No Trace techniques for traveling and camping. As you get higher into the backcountry, you will have the chance to be leader of the day and guide the group using navigation skills your instructors will teach you. Participants should be prepared for carrying heavy packs at altitudes of 11,000+ feet. We recommend at least three days of acclimation if you are coming from sea level. Proper acclimation, hydration and nutrition are crucial for a successful trip. This course is capped at 16 participants.

Students must register through MyWestern after registration opens June 3.