The Wildcat Wilderness Orientation (WWO) program is based on a substantial amount of research that has shown that outdoor orientation programs before the onset of college greatly enhance students’ college experience. This enhancement is achieved through students creating quality friendships prior to classes beginning, giving the students a sense of a healthy community, and allowing the students to develop skills relevant to their prospective college experience (O’Keefe, 1989).
The idea of an outdoor orientation program for college students was conceived and employed back in 1935 at Dartmouth College by their Outing Club to engage incoming students (Hooke, 1987). Since that time, more than 200 other colleges and universities have created wilderness orientation programs that are offered to incoming freshmen (Bell, Holmes, Vigneault,& Williams, 2008). Our job at Adventure Outings is to continue and improve this outdoor tradition and make the orientation experience unique to California State University, Chico!
WWO’s philosophy is that outdoor, experiential education can be an extremely beneficial addition to traditional education and that the skills learned through one can be easily transferred to the other. The skills that WWO aims to teach are (source):
- Time management – The extent that an individual perceives that he/she makes optimum use of time.
- Social competence – The degree of personal confidence and self-perceived ability in social interactions.
- Achievement motivation – The extent to which the individual is motivated to achieve excellence and put the required effort into action to attain it.
- Intellectual flexibility – The extent to which the individual perceives he/she can adapt his/her thinking and accommodate new information from changing conditions and different perspectives.
- Task leadership – The extent to which the individual perceives he/she can lead other people effectively when a task needs to be done and productivity is the primary requirement.
- Emotional control – The extent to which the individual perceives he/she maintains emotional control when he/she is faced with potentially stressful situations.
- Active initiative – The extent to which the individual likes to initiate action in new situations.
- Self confidence – The degree of confidence the individual has in his/her abilities and the success of their actions.
Each WWO trip will attempt to include activities that encourage development in each of these areas. While we cannot guarantee anything due to the extreme variability of individuals and the outdoor environment we are confident that each WWO participant will leave their trip with an, at least slightly, greater chance of being successful at CSU, Chico.
Adventure Outing’s Wildcat Wilderness Orientation has the following mission statement:
To provide incoming students with a student-led outdoor experience that enhances life skills while encouraging responsibility and a healthy lifestyle.