Freshman Wilderness Experience

The 2021 Freshman Wilderness Experience is cancelled.

Information below is generic based on past years and, if the program is reinstated in the future, will likely be similar.

The Freshman Wilderness Experience (FWE), a week-long summer backpacking or canoeing trip, coupled with a one-credit class in the fall, only offered to incoming BGSU freshmen. Students participating in these programs show nearly a 40% increase in satisfaction with campus life and over a 30% increase in freshmen retention compared to non-participating students.

With the combination of the Outdoor Program trip leaders and a BGSU faculty member, the knowledge gained from this program can go beyond the normal classroom.

Students participating in the Freshman Wilderness Experience expeditions can expect to learn:

  • Basic backpacking or canoeing and camping skills
  • Wilderness survival skills
  • Bowling Green State University traditions and history
  • About the resources of Bowling Green State University
  • Diverse cultures and ideas
  • Intellectual, personal, social and critical thinking skills that assist in future semesters at BGSU and beyond
  • Self-reliance and self-confidence through challenging outdoor and classroom experiences
  • To form friendships with fellow first-year students before the semester even begins


Freshman Wilderness Experience is an orientation program in which only incoming freshmen may enroll. Though the program is open to anyone and previous outdoor experience is not necessary, it is recommended that one be in good physical condition to participate.

College Credit

Freshman Wilderness Experience couples a week-long expedition with two upperclassmen and a BGSU faculty member. These individuals facilitate outdoor learning skills in the field. When students return to BGSU they meet with a class regularly to cover the remainder of the BGSU course curriculum. Enrolling in this program registers students in a BGSU Wilderness Experience based class that is worth 1 academic credit.

Because the Freshman Wilderness Experience program is a modified form of a BGSU class, the tuition cost remains the same as for any one-credit first-year class.

In addition, there is a fee paid to the Outdoor Program to cover costs related to facilitating the backpacking or canoeing expedition. This fee is separate from the standard tuition and must be paid no later than three weeks prior to the expedition's departure. This cost covers transportation, staffing, lodging, all equipment, and dinners during the expedition. A non-refundable deposit is required up front to reserve a spot.

Freshman Wilderness Experience

Complete the form below for questions that are not addressed on this web site. A member of the Outdoor Program staff will be in touch as soon as possible regarding information and tentative plans for future FWE programming.

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Information Request Form