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Outdoor Adventure: First Year Trip

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Outdoor Adventure Backpacking Program

Note: the Pecos Wilderness is currently closed due to uncontained wildfires. We will be monitoring the status of the forest throughout the summer to determine if we can move forward with the First-Year Trip. Please be advised that the trip may be postponed, in which case participant fees wil be refunded.

OA group photo

Outdoor Adventure is a 7-day backpacking trip for incoming first-year Honors College students guided by Honors upperclass students. It’s a great opportunity to meet other first-year Honors students, get involved with Honors activities, get out of your comfort zone and explore the outdoors! Our motto: Low Impact on Nature, High Impact on People.

Summer 2022 First-Year Trip: July 31st - August 7th, 2022

2022 Outdoor Adventure Application



Who goes on the First-Year Trip (FYT)?

Incoming first-year students from the University of Oklahoma make up the majority of the group, while a number of upperclass students serve as wilderness guides in the backcountry.  The program is open to members of the Class of 2026 who are at least 18 years old by July 31st, 2022. Each crew is led by both male and female OA Leaders who are OU students.

What if I have never been camping before?

No prior experience is necessary but it is important to be prepared physically, as it is strenuous hiking 7 to 10 miles a day with a full pack at an elevation above 9,000 feet over rough terrain and up hills. On the trip, OA guides teach specific outdoor skills and provide information to help participants reduce their risk of injury and be successful on the trip.

How much does it cost?

The fee to attend OA is $500 and can be paid by check or money order made out to the University of Oklahoma and MAILED to:

University of Oklahoma Honors College
Attn: Outdoor Adventure – Nicolette Nicar
1300 Asp Ave RM 160
Norman, OK 73019

Is financial aid available?

No. Unfortunately, financial aid is not available to participants because the trip is voluntary.

When should I show up to Norman?

The Outdoor Adventure First-Year Trip will take place from Sunday, July 31st to Sunday, August 7th, 2022.

Registration is limited. Spaces will be allocated on a first come, first serve basis. Submitting a registration form does not guarantee a spot on the First-Year Trip. You must be 18 or older to participate.

Cancellation Policy

All cancellations must be submitted in writing and postmarked by cancellation dates or may be submitted via e-mail to by cancellation dates.

July 1 and before - Full refund
July 2 to July 15 - 50% refund
July 15 and later - No refund

Tommy McGee: Hi all! I am a junior majoring in aerospace engineering. I come from a tiny country town called Duke in southwest Oklahoma, a place not heard of often. I love playing basketball, hiking, rock climbing, and I can get splendidly lost reading. I’m also a big fan of Nintendo games, particularly Zelda. At OU, I’m a member of the Boomer Rocket Team, and I participate in the HERE program for research. I was a participant in OA my freshman year, and I loved the experience. I tried to be a guide for the next two years but unfortunately couldn’t thanks to the pandemic. I am new to the leadership position for OA but am excited to start!

Josh Biddick: Hey gang! I’m a junior double majoring in Anthropology and International Studies, and intend to study international law. I grew up in Oklahoma City and Calgary (Canada), and love to ski, hike, and rock climb. I am also a big fan of Dungeons and Dragons, strategy games, and reading. I am a pianist and percussionist and play in OUs concert bands every other semester, help plan events for Arabic club, and of course enjoy planning the Outdoor Adventure trip and meetings! While I didn’t have the chance to go on the trip my Freshman year, my two closest friends did and actually met there! Overall the club has been a great place to connect with other people on campus and get involved.

Jennifer Glasco: Hey y'all, I am a sophomore from the small town of Hartshorne, OK (I'm sure you've never heard of it) majoring in philosophy with pre-med stuff, and I have loved my experiences with the Honors College so far! Even during my unconventional first year at OU, I had the opportunity to participate in research through the FYRE program, which helped me learn a lot and make great connections. Obviously, I also got to join OA as a guide last year and go to fun meetings, and I have really enjoyed meeting all the great people involved!

Alex Parsells (senior advisor): Hey guys, I am a senior from New Egypt, NJ majoring in astrophysics and math. I joined OA in my freshman year and have been a guide since 2018. I was a leader for the 2020 and 2021 trips, which were canceled due to the pandemic, and now I’m advising the new leadership in Tommy, Josh, and Jennifer. I love being outside and was a Scout for 10 years as a kid, but OA was the first time I saw real mountains and it was an awesome experience. If you’re on the fence about joining OA - do it. Outside of hiking I like reading, playing pickup sports, and cheering for the New York Giants.

Emalina Cihak (senior advisor): Hi! I am a senior from Flower Mound, TX studying Sociology - Criminology with minors in Criminal Investigation & Intelligence Analysis and Informational Studies. I attended Outdoor Adventure as a participant in 2018 with zero backpacking experience and absolutely loved it. I’ve since been a Guide twice, a Leader once, and now a Senior Advisor! I really want to do my part to help keep this wonderful Honors College tradition up and running. OA is a fantastic way to get involved in the Honors College, meet some like minded outdoorsy people, and (in my case) try something out of my comfort zone.

What do I need to buy for my trip?

***Some items are available to check out on a first come, first served basis. You can e-mail for more details.***

This is the list of equipment that individuals are responsible for bringing on the trip. All of the equipment on the list is required for a safe and fun outdoor experience. If you have questions about the adequacy of your gear, or problems getting the right gear, please contact us. We expect you to show up in Norman with all of the following equipment. If you arrive without items or with inadequate equipment, you will have to purchase suitable equipment in Norman. You will be asked to leave any additional items behind (i.e., jeans, knives, etc...). Please bring this list with you when you come to check in. You must have all of your equipment before you leave on the trip.

Where to buy? Most of these items can be purchased locally at a general store, local outdoor store or sports store. Additionally, often good deals can be found online for many of these items. If you are not experienced in the outdoors and are unsure of what to get, we would not recommend you buy boots, packs or sleeping bags online as it is essential you make sure these items are a good fit. There are many online retailers that offer quality goods – here is a list of just a few:

When selecting gear for the trip, remember that you’ll be in the outdoors for six days, so you’ll want to bring only those things you need to be comfortable. Leave behind what isn’t necessary—extra stuff just adds weight. This equipment list is based on years of experience running Outdoor Adventure Trips. If you bring ALL the gear on the list and ONLY the gear on the list, you’ll be comfortable in virtually any situation you’ll encounter on the OA Trip. We will “shake down” your bag before leaving on the trip - if you decided to bring your whole wardrobe, you will be asked to leave it in Norman (you’ll appreciate this the first day of hiking).


Fabrics: For hiking you want clothing that is warm, breathable, and quick-drying. Synthetic fabrics are best because they won’t absorb water, dry quickly, and are relatively windproof. Many people already have synthetic clothing at home, so you may not need to go out and purchase clothing just for this trip. Items like running gear, athletic warm-ups, and skiing / snowboarding gear can easily be used on this trip—so check out your closet or borrow from a friend before going to the store. Lightweight synthetic shirts, underwear, and pants are fine. You should avoid bringing all-cotton clothing since it absorbs water easily and won’t keep you warm if it gets wet. Cotton also retains water so that it takes a very long time to dry. Do NOT bring all-cotton clothes such as sweatshirts, sweatpants, or jeans.

Dressing for the Weather: Weather is unpredictable, so you’ll need to bring a range of clothing for various temperatures, as well as rain. During the day, Pecos temperatures at the end of summer can range from the mid-40s F at the low end to the upper 70s F. Temperatures can be considerably cooler at night, though, dropping into the 30s F and 40s F. (Mean Temperatures: 77 / 47. Record Temperatures: 87 / 34)

Layering: Dressing in layers is the most efficient way to stay comfortable in the outdoors. By bringing several different layers, you can add or remove clothing to match your activity level and the weather conditions.

●      The Base/Wicking Layer keeps the skin comfortable and dry, which is essential for controlling your temperature. Polypropylene or other synthetic fabrics are ideal since they wick moisture away from your skin. Such lightweight synthetics, synthetic blends, or wool provide good ventilation for the skin to keep you dry and cool. During the day you’ll probably be hiking in a T-shirt and shorts.

●      The Middle Layer is made up of a long sleeve shirt and long pants, which provide insulation and some protection from the elements. You may wear these while hiking for cooler temperatures or to protect you from sun, or at camp at night and in the early morning.

●      The Outer Layer—usually a fleece jacket, light down jacket, or wool sweater—provides insulation. Synthetic fleece fabrics (such as Polartec) don’t absorb water, so they keep you warm even if they get wet. You’ll wear this layer around camp at night and in the early morning when it is cooler.

●      The Shell Layer protects you from wind and rain. A waterproof rain jacket is vital in case of bad weather. A coated nylon rain jacket is lightweight, inexpensive, and works well. Waterproof-breathable fabrics like Gore-tex also work well but can be expensive. Raingear is not only essential for the OA Trip, but also will get plenty of use on campus. All rain gear must be tested in the shower prior to arriving on campus. Note - water resistant is not the same as waterproof.

●      For the final layer, your Head, bring a wide-brimmed hat for sun and rain protection. At night, you’ll need a wool or synthetic fleece hat to keep you warm—it can get colder than you think at night.


Think Before You Buy! Although backpacking requires specialized gear, you may be surprised how many items you already own or can borrow from a friend or relative. For example, you likely already own the synthetic clothing that is best for backpacking. Borrowing gear not only saves you money, but also contributes to Outdoor Adventure’s effort to be environmentally friendly in our activities. Borrow (or improvise!) first, then buy used gear if you can so that polluting/non-renewable resources are not being consumed to manufacture your new gear. Items that are most appropriate to buy new are those that require precise fitting (like boots) and those that you will use a lot around campus after the Outdoor Adventure Trip (like a rain jacket). If you are buying new gear, please ask retailers to show you products made from recycled or sustainable materials, or search online for different sustainable or environmentally friendly options.

Pecos map

For the first year trip, OA travels by bus from David L. Boren Hall (home to the OU Honors College) to the Pecos Wilderness, part of the Santa Fe National Forest near Santa Fe, New Mexico.

After an orientation day at Jack's Creek Campground, groups spend five days and four nights in the Pecos, visiting sites such as Pecos Falls, Truchas Peak, Beatty's Flats and Pecos Baldy.

Jack's Creek Campground (Google Maps)

Health and safety in the backcountry is our number one priority. Outdoor Adventure is a student-run, student-led group, but we are sponsored by two Honors College staff members who stay and camp at Jack’s Creek base camp for the week separate from our student groups on the trail. Once on the trail, we utilize InReach satellite communication devices to communicate with each other and our staff sponsors. In the case of an emergency, we can use these satellite devices to trigger an SOS to a 24/7 monitoring center in the event of an emergency.

All Guides are First Aid and CPR certified. Most of our Guides also get a specific Wilderness First Aid (WFA) certification. This is a two day course with practical exercises. The Honors College also sponsors a few students to get Wilderness First Responder (WRF) certified at an accredited WFR certification center. The types of injuries we see on the trail the most are blisters and twisted ankles.

Backpacking is a strenuous physical activity. The Santa Fe National Forest starts at an elevation of approximately 8,000 feet, and we only go up from there. We recommend some form of cardio training (running, biking, swimming) before you show up for the trip. Once you get your pack, fill it up with your gear or a bunch of heavy books and walk on an incline on the treadmill. You should also mentally prepare. This trip is 7 days of intense walking and limited contact to the outside world (although you may get some cell signal on the tops of some mountains). Remember: your guides are here for you! We are here to help and encourage. Have trust in yourself, your ability, and your fellow students.

We’d like to recognize COVID-19 as an ongoing threat. The past two years (2020 & 2021) the Outdoor Adventure trip has be canceled due to planning complications with COVID. We can’t say for sure how COVID will effect the trip in 2022, but we are monitoring the situation and the options we have to make sure we are keeping everyone safe.

Attached is an example of a menu OA has used in past years. We plan, purchase, and portion out all the food needed for the whole trip for you. We do recommend bringing some kind of trail snack (trail mix, granola bar, etc.) for yourself. We can accommodate for dietary restrictions (vegetarian, vegan, lactose-intolerance, etc.) or food allergies (nut-allergy, etc.), just make sure to identify that when you fill out the registration form.

pdf Example Trail Menu
Updated: 12/1/2021