Founded in 1978, Williams Outdoor Orientation for Living as First-Years (WOOLF) is the oldest and largest Williams EphVenture orientation program, sponsored by the Williams Outing Club! First-years will get to know a small group of fellow students while getting acquainted with the beautiful Berkshires surrounding the Williams campus. WOOLF welcomes any and all incoming freshmen interested in spending some time in the outdoors and/or getting to know their peers better in a beautiful environment – no previous outdoor experience necessary.
WOOLF offers four-day outdoor adventures during the mid-orientation period of First Days. A variety of backpacking trips are available for all levels in and around the Berkshires – many walk right off or back to campus, while others travel further to utilize portions of the Appalachian Trail. WOOLF also offers a variety of specialty trips, including canoeing, rock climbing, trail crew, and art in nature. Absolutely no outdoor experience or outdoor equipment is required as we offer beginner-level trips and equipment that students can (and most do) loan. A detailed list of equipment for these trips will be emailed to students who register for WOOLF in early July available online after you register for your EphVenture early in the summer, but with the exception of basic clothing, the Williams Outing Club can lend out many of the items you’ll need. Please do not let a lack of outdoor gear influence your decision to participate in WOOLF – we will do our best to outfit you. WOOLF is committed to making its outdoors orientation trips accessible to all classes, races, genders, and abilities among other factors.
Trips vary in mileage and rigor, so browse the trip descriptions below to determine which trip would be the best fit! Participants on most trips will carry a backpack between 35 and 45 pounds, but accessibility concerns can be accommodated.
WOOLF is organized and run entirely by Williams students (with a good amount of wisdom and help from Scott Lewis, the director of the Williams Outing Club). All of the WOOLF Leaders who lead WOOLF trips in pairs are rising sophomores. These students are extremely excited to introduce the incoming first-year class to Williams and the WOOLF program. WOOLF Leaders are selected from a very competitive applicant pool and participate in extensive training before pioneering their WOOLF trips in the fall. This training covers interpersonal skills, like facilitating a positive group dynamic and promoting inclusivity and accessibility, as well as important technical skills needed to lead a four-day outdoors trip. All WOOLF Leaders are trained, certified, and tested in Wilderness First Aid.
We enthusiastically encourage everyone to participate in WOOLF! It is a fantastic way to start your first year and a great introduction to a group sure to produce some lasting friendships. We invite you to come experience the outdoors, learn some new skills, and fully enjoy your first few days at Williams.
Choose Your Trip
Backpacking (Note: Mileage includes elevation changes up and down carrying a full pack, possibly 20-35 pounds.)
- Beginner Backpacking – Absolutely no experience necessary. Learn the basics of backpacking. Under 5 miles per day.
- Intermediate Backpacking – Experience recommended but not necessary. Daily mileage is approximately 5-10 miles.
- Advanced Backpacking – Experience recommended. Daily mileage is approximately 8-15 miles.
Canoeing (space limited)
- Introduction to Canoeing – Absolutely no experience necessary. Learn the strokes of canoeing and paddling and camping.
- Intermediate Canoeing – Previous experience recommended. For those who have been in a canoe a few times and feel comfortable with paddling strokes (including the J-stroke for steering).
Rock Climbing (space limited)
- Beginner Rock Climbing – Absolutely no experience necessary. Learn the ropes of belaying and moving over rock.
- Intermediate Rock Climbing – For those familiar with climbing techniques, basic climbing knots and belaying, whether in a gym or outside.
Trail Crew (space limited)
For those interested in developing a stronger bond with the area surrounding Williams through outdoor community-service projects, while still enjoying four days in the outdoors. You spend your time at one campsite and get to know your fellow Ephs as you help to improve the condition of trails in the greater Berkshire area!
Art in Nature (space limited)
Enjoy nature but don’t love to backpack? This trip introduces you to the outdoors through art! With relaxed day hikes carrying only a water bottle, snack and an extra layer, you will be doing everything from sketching, sculpting to writing and reading. This trip is a great way to appreciate nature while meeting fellow Ephs.
For even more information, check out the main WOOLF site