Mission: First Tracks supports incoming students in their transition to university life through experiential learning and community building.


  1. To support students’ transition to college by fostering a sense of community with classmates and the local surroundings
  2. To increase self-efficacy through accomplishing new tasks in a new environment in order to encourage student persistence
  3. To facilitate personal growth and self-awareness through continued reflection

Learning Outcomes

Students will…

  • Develop interpersonal skills such as communication and collaboration
  • Gain technical skills in backpacking or kayaking, camping, and backcountry cooking.  
  • Practice Leave No Trace ethics to continue their pursuits of outdoor recreation in a sustainable way 

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to have any outdoor or camping experience?

No – these trips are tailored to beginners and we’ll teach you everything you need to know to travel and camp safely.

What about gear? I don’t have any.

No problem. The ORC will supply tents, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, stoves, water filters, backpacks, kayaks, and many other items you may need. If you have your own sleeping bag, sleeping pad, or backpack, you’re welcome to use your own. We’ll send a packing list in advance so you know what clothes you’ll need to bring with you.

Will the ORC supply food?

Yes – this program includes the cost of food. We’ll even teach you how to cook your own food over a backpacking stove. Just let us know if you have any dietary restrictions when you register.

Do I have to attend the Alive! Session directly after this trip?

No. We have coordinated our trips with four of the Alive! Sessions for convenience, but you may attend any Alive! Session you’d like.

How do you ensure safety on these trips?

All of our leaders have some level of medical training, including training on how to use those skills in the backcountry. These trips will have leaders with Wilderness First Aid training at minimum, while some of our leaders are trained as Wilderness First Responders or EMTs.  Students are responsible for choosing safe actions in the backcountry and will be introduced to expedition behavior before leaving Pullman.

Where do I meet everyone for the trip?

You'll meet at the Outdoor Recreation Center (ORC) at 1 p.m. on the first listed day of the trip. We'll review a few things, do personal gear evaluations, and do some getting-to-know-you activities prior leaving on our trip early the next morning. We'll be sleeping in the ORC that night, so we can get an early start. After the trip, we'll return to the ORC and then you can begin your Alive! Session or head home.

Will there be transportation from the airport?

If you are flying into Spokane, you may want to look at shuttle options such as the Wheatland Express. This shuttle drops off at the Residence Inn, across the road from the ORC. View Wheatland Express airport shuttle information.

If you are flying into Pullman, we may be able to assist you with transportation from the airport to your hotel or the ORC. Please contact us to discuss your itinerary. 

What if I need a place to stay for a night following the trip before my Alive! Session starts?

There are a variety of hotel options available in Pullman. The closest hotel is the Courtyard @ WSU, across the street from the Outdoor Recreation Center. View Pullman accommodations options

If your question about First Tracks: Outdoor Orientation Program isn't answered here, contact us at orc@wsu.edu.