Outdoor Orientation

A note about COVID-19

To allow for maximum move-in safety and flexibility, we have elected not to hold our in-person Pre-Orientation programs this August (Art, Canoeing, Mindfulness, Paving the Way, Outdoor, and Service).

While we love these programs, we feel the most important thing we can do is to focus on directly supporting your transition to campus and classes in the fall, and we are dedicating our energy fully to that. We are exploring other small-group experiences that better fit this complex year.

Do you love the great outdoors? During the Denison’s Outdoor Orientation (DOO) you’ll take part in a unique and challenging backpack hike through the wilds of Kentucky. You will gather in groups of eight, each led by a faculty-student staff team, as you explore a beautiful and inspiring landscape of hills and forests. Spending time together during the three-day hike is a great opportunity to make new friends, learn more about Denison, and just have a lot of fun. We have room for up to 48 students - so register soon.

Safety & Experience

Prior hiking experience is not necessary. Participants’ experience ranges from those who had previously hiked for weeks at a time to students who had never set foot on a trail or in a tent. Anyone with a moderate level of fitness and an interest in trying something new is encouraged to apply.

To maintain the quality of this small group experience and to minimize the risks, we ask that you abide by the following policies: non-prescription drugs, alcohol, and tobacco are not permitted on the trip. In addition, please do not use MP3 players, portable radios, cell phones, or other electronic devices on the trip.

Denison University is an equal opportunity provider and employer and a Permit Holder of the Red River Gorge Geological Area.

The Schedule

Arriving at Denison on Monday, August 17th, you will spend the day moving into your dorm, learning or reviewing the basics of backpacking, checking gear, and getting to know other hikers. On Tuesday the 18th, six groups of eight First-Year students and two leaders will travel to the Red River Gorge Geological Area in Kentucky. This region of natural beauty features moderately strenuous trails and a diversity of terrain. You will return to campus on Friday, August 21st for August Orientation, which begins on Sunday, August 23rd.

What equipment do I need?

Having all of your own equipment is not required.

Participants will need:

  • A pair of waterproof hiking boots with good ankle support
  • Rain gear
  • A flashlight
  • Hikers are encouraged to bring any additional equipment they have such as: a sleeping bag, tent, backpack, etc, but the university will provide necessary gear not brought by students.

A complete packing list will be provided to accepted participants.


The cost of DOO is $250. Pell Grant recipients who wish to participate may have their fees waived.

Additional Details

You will move into your fall dorm assignment upon arriving on campus. Athletes in some fall sports might not be able to participate in DOO because of early practices. Check with your coach and be sure to check your email over the summer for forms to complete and additional information.

For more information, contact:


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