WOOT dates for Summer and Fall 2018 will be available soon!
Western Outdoor Orientation Trips aims to support, enhance, and ease the transition into Western for first-year students through outdoor adventure!
What is WOOT?
Western Outdoor Orientation Trips (WOOT) are a unique opportunity for first-year students to spend a week backpacking or kayaking while exploring the wilderness of the Pacific Northwest with a group of fellow students prior to their first quarter at WWU. Harnessing the transformative power of the outdoors, WOOT offers an enhanced orientation experience in which students forge friendships, learn backcountry and outdoor skills, gain mentors, and make incredible memories. WOOT leads to stronger and more meaningful connections that can contribute to an impactful and fulfilling Western experience, boosting students’ academic success.
Is WOOT right for me?
Are you an incoming student? Then WOOT is right for you! Regardless of your prior outdoor experience or physical abilities, WOOT is designed for ALL levels of ability. Every trip involves a certain level of physical demand as students are responsible for carrying their own equipment and food on backpacking and sea kayaking trips. Upon registering you will be asked specific questions that assist us in ensuring that you are placed on a trip that meets your needs and level of challenge. With regular physical activity leading up to the trip, you will have no problem thriving during your WOOT experience.
What does a typical day look like?
As a WOOTer, you can expect to rise early and have a nice cup of tea while listening to the woods coming alive around you. Your morning generally starts with a group game that gets your blood flowing and everyone laughing. Next, duties are split up to prepare for the day ahead. Some take down camp while others prepare a hearty breakfast.
As you hit the trail your group will spend the day hiking and exploring to your next destination. During this time you will get to know your group while taking in the beautiful surroundings including mountain streams, views of the San Juan Islands, towering firs, granite peaks, and magnificent glaciers looming in the distance. While on the trail there will be times to take breaks and soak it all in while also learning how to read maps, identify native plants, and connect with your fellow WOOTers through a variety of activities and reflections.
Rolling into camp brings a sense of familiarity as everyone begins to prepare for nightly activities. Once camp is set, everyone settles in for the night as the fire grows listening to stories from each other as well as your trip leaders about what has made their Western Experience so memorable.
Our sea kayaking program shares similar features as our backpacking trips. The main differences are the mode of transportation and overnight accommodations. Starting off the first day is spent on campus ensuring that everyone is equipped with all the necessary kayaking equipment for a safe and fun adventure. From there, students will take a boat charter to Sinclair Island spending the first day developing paddling skills prior to embarking on a variety of day trips to surrounding islands.
Over the course of the week students will use Viqueen Lodge as their headquarters completing day trips to surrounding islands by kayak. Opportunities to see a wide array of marine life will exist throughout every day! Anything from sea anemones to Orcas is a daily possibility! With daily paddles students can also expect to explore the surrounding islands by foot. These islands include Cypress Island, Vendovi Island and Orcas Island.
Registration is currently closed!
WOOT is offered in unison with Summerstart sessions. Additionally, WOOT is offered the week prior to the start of Fall Quarter.
Summerstart WOOT sessions begin on the afternoon of day 2 of your Summerstart session
1 WOOT Session offered with each Summerstart Session
Fall WOOT Sessions begin the Monday prior to the start week of Fall Quarter
7 WOOT Sessions offered in Fall Session
Past WOOT Participant Testimonials
- "This was an extremely worthwhile experience that I would recommend to anyone coming into college, regardless of whether they have an interest in outdoor activities. The focus was on group bonding rather than outdoor skills, and allowed our group to become a cohesive whole, accepting and supporting one another. Our friendships have translated well to college and allowed me to feel that I had friends and a support group when I first came here when I otherwise would have known no one. I still feel that I know and trust people from my outdoor orientation trip better than most anyone else on campus."
- "Going on a WOOT! Trip was incredibly valuable start to my Western experience. The trip helped me meet people and step outside my comfort zone and try things I normally wouldn't have. I also got to meet a diverse group of people, many of whom I probably wouldn't have met without going on the WOOT! trip."
- "WOOT! has definitely eased my nerves about starting college... and I feel safe because I will always have a strong base of friends at school who will be there for me... I loved our laughs and I love these people. I love WOOT! And I will be on many more trips with the Outdoor Center. I don't know what could be better."
- "I think WOOT! has given me not only a new group of friends before school even starts, but also the confidence and sense of self-worth that will help me make new friends and have a successful experience at Western."
- “I feel so lucky to have had this experience…Walking away from WOOT!, I have new friends, a desire to explore the Bellingham outdoors, a stronger love for the outdoors, a confidence going into my freshman year, and a plan to get more involved with the Outdoor Center”
How much does the WOOT Program cost?
All the backpacking sections are $550.00
All sea kayaking sessions are $640.00.
When does registration open for WOOT?
Registration opens June 1st for all WOOT Experiences. You can register online by clicking the REGISTER NOW link at the top of this page.
How should I register for WOOT if I plan to do a Summerstart Session?
WOOT registration opens the same day as Summerstart reservations. If you are doing a Summerstart WOOT session you MUST sign up for Summerstart prior to WOOT. Once signed up for Summerstart you will be able to register for WOOT. Please note if you sign up for WOOT prior to signing up for Summerstart or wish to change your WOOT session date, the New Student Services office cannot guarantee you a space in a corresponding Summerstart session. Please sign up for you Summerstart session FIRST to avoid any conflicts.
How should I register for WOOT if I plan to do a Fall session?
Fall WOOT registration is also available beginning June 1st. We strongly encourage that you sign up early as WOOT fills fast!
If I am a parent can I register my student?
You can! However, registering should always be done with the student present. The questions that we ask help us determine the best trip for your student. It is important that together you are answering the questions as accurately as possible to help us in assigning the appropriate trip for your student.
Is housing included for Summerstart WOOT Sessions?
Yes. During your Summerstart Session we do our best to pair you in a room with another student who is participating in WOOT. You will stay in this room for your one night of Summerstart as well as your first night of WOOT. You are required to stay in the dorms the first night of WOOT.
Do I get early move-in for Fall if I sign up for WOOT?
Summerstart WOOT Sessions:
No early move-in will be offered for Summerstart WOOT participants. Your move-in date will be assigned by housing.
Fall WOOT Sessions:
Yes, all incoming students who sign up for any of the Fall WOOT sessions will move in to your assigned dorm on Sunday, September 17th when you arrive for your WOOT experience.
Can I loft my bed when I arrive for Fall WOOT?
Unfortunately, you will not have the ability to loft your bed during this time due to lack of housing staffing during this time. However, all of the materials for lofting beds will be available as soon as you return from your WOOT Experience!
Can I ship my belongings to my dorm so they are there when I arrive?
It is possible to ship your belongings to your residence hall prior to move-in. Please visit https://housing.wwu.edu/apps/future/moving-in for more information. You may also contact University Residences for more information.
What if I need an extra night in the dorms when we get back from Summerstart WOOT due to family pickup or flight home?
This can be offered to students in need. If this is a service that you will need you will need to arrange with Guest Housing.
Can I get on the same WOOT Trip as my roommate?
If you wish to be on the same trip as your assigned roommate it is up to you to coordinate what trip you will sign up for! When your register, in the additional comments, please state who your roommate will be and we will do the best we can to accommodate you!
What if I have never backpacked or sea kayaked before?
No worries! Your trip leaders will teach you all the basic skills you will need to know to be comfortable in the outdoors whether on land or in the water. Based on your responses to the registration questionnaire, your trip leaders will be able to provide opportunity for you to succeed on any trip.
What kind of physical condition do I need to be in to participate in WOOT?
We will be physically active for 6 days, hiking with a 30-50 lb. backpack therefore conditioning before your trip will improve your experience. The trips vary in difficulty and based on your fitness level, you will be put on the best trip for you!
We will be physically active for 6 days. The days will be a mix of sea kayaking which requires primarily upper body and core strength. We will also do short day hikes on various islands. With basic physical conditioning and regular activity, you should have no problem sea kayaking.
Do I need any special equipment?
The Outdoor Center will provide all the group camping equipment. The essentials that you will need to bring include a backpack, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, headlamp and personal clothing. After registration you will receive a detailed equipment list outlining every item that we will provide as well as personal items that you will need for that trip.
Can I rent equipment from the Outdoor Center?
The Outdoor Center has a limited number of rental items. We ask that if you currently own any of the required items that you please provide them yourself to ensure that those who need the gear have access to it!
Can I bring my cell phone, ipod, or personal computer?
Nope! But there is no need to worry, you will have a great time outdoors connecting with your amazing WOOT Crew!
What about a camera?
Certainly! One of the best parts about your WOOT Experience is being able to share your memories with family and friends. Given the variability in weather, we do not recommend binging anything fancy that may be damaged.
Trip Assignments, Payment, Refunds
How do you assign students to specific trips?
While some of the trips do vary in difficulty we do our best to match your desired outcomes from the questionnaire with the appropriate level of challenge for you. Most of our trips include at least one layover day and none of them are designed for students to fail. We want all students to succeed on their WOOT Experience and we do our best to make sure the level of challenge is appropriate for you.
Am I required to pay in full at the time of registration?
Full payment is required at the time of registration. If you are not able to make the full payment at the time of registration, please contact the Outdoor Center Programs Coordinator who can make arrangements on a case-by-case basis.
Can I get a refund once I have registered for WOOT?
Due to the planning and preparation that goes into the WOOT Experience, full refunds will only be granted 1 month prior to the arrival day.
Full Refund- 1 Month prior to arrival day
¾ Refund- 3 Weeks prior to arrival day
No Refund-2 Weeks or less prior to arrival day
Arriving in Bellingham
What time do I need to be in Bellingham?
Summerstart WOOT Sessions:
You will need to arrive at the designated check-in time for Summerstart. On day 2 of Summerstart your WOOT experience will begin at 2pm in the Outdoor Center!
Fall WOOT Sessions:
Check-in for Fall WOOT begins at 10am. Students will have until 2pm to get everything moved into your dorm and meet back up with the group.
How can I get more information on traveling from the Bellingham Airport as well as SeaTac?
There are no regular transit services to/from Bellingham International Airport and Western Washington University. Taxi fare from Bellingham Airport to WWU runs about $20-$25. Connection to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport is provided by Airporter Shuttle, and connection to Vancouver International Airport is provided by Quick Shuttle.
SEATAC Airport can be reached from Bellingham using a variety of transit options:
Airporter Shuttle (most direct service)
Amtrak can be used with a transfer to Link Light Rail
Departing from Bellingham
What time do trips get back to campus?
With all of the WOOT trips we aim to have students back to campus no later than 5pm. With that said, on the rare occasion, groups may arrive after 5pm. In general, most trips arrive back to campus between 12-5pm.
When is the best time to schedule return flights/busses/trains?
It is best to choose departures later in the afternoon if you will be flying or bussing back home. If you have any questions about specific flights or travel logistics please contact the Outdoor Center Programs Coordinator.
Special Dietary Needs
What if I can only eat certain foods or have restrictions on what I can eat?
We can and have modified our menus for a wide variety of dietary needs. Whether it is peanut allergies, gluten free, vegetarian, vegan, or other, this information will be collected at the time of registration. Please be sure to let us know if any special dietary needs so we can provide the best option for you.
In Case of Emergency
Who manages emergencies while on the trip?
For any emergencies, all our Trip Leaders possess a minimum Wilderness First Aid Certification with at least one leader having a Wilderness First Responder Certification on every trip. If outside help is needed all our trips carry Delorme InReach emergency communication devices with them that allows for contact for outside help.
What if there is an emergency back home?
For families who need to get in contact with students while they are away, all communication can be directed to the Outdoor Center Programs Coordinator who can contact all groups in the field.
What is the contact information for the Outdoor Center?
General Inquiry/Equipment Needs:
WWU Outdoor Center Equipment Shop
Program Specific Questions:
WWU Outdoor Center Programs Coordinator