Orientation Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have orientation-related questions?  Please review the questions below that others have asked.  If you have any other questions, or need additional clarification, please don't hesitate to ask Cecil Goodman, the Orientation Director: cgoodman@prescott.edu or 928-350-2305

What is Orientation?

What is Orientation?

Orientation is your first academic course at Prescott College during the fall or winter academic block.  Most students enroll in Wilderness Orientation: Desert Mountain & Canyon during which they go backpacking for 21 days in remote backcountry environments.  In addition to backpacking and backcountry living skills, students learn about the natural environments they travel through, the philosophies and processes of Prescott College, and focus on building strong community connections.  Students also choose to enroll in Community Based Orientation, a 4-week Orientation course based in Prescott that builds the same connections to community, place, and self, but through the context of classroom activities, service learning opportunities, field trips, and academic work.

Who teaches Orientation?

Who teaches Orientation?

Most Wilderness Orientation groups have 2 instructors: an alum instructor who is an experienced outdoor educator working in the outdoor education industry, and a student instructor, who is a senior student at Prescott College studying adventure education.  Your instructors are asked to have a Wilderness First Responder (WFR) and CPR certifications and attend a comprehensive staff training.  Community Based Orientation instructors are experienced educators who have worked in diverse experiential and community education settings. 

Do I get credit for Orientation?

Do I get credit for Orientation?

Yes!  Upon successful completion of Orientation you earn 4 lower division credits and your instructors will write a narrative evaluation that appears on your transcript in conjunction with your self evaluation.  Letter grades are not issued for Orientation.  Additionally, Orientation serves as a field and wilderness prerequisite for field-based and expeditionary-based courses.

Do I really need all the gear on the list?

Do I really need all the gear on the list?

Yes! The gear list for Wilderness Orientation is the result of a long, thoughtful, and collaborative process that includes the experiences of students, instructors, course directors, and the Orientation Director.  The gear list is meant to be comprehensive and prepare you for a variety of weather, terrain, and situations that you might encounter on Orientation.  Please carefully read through the appropriate gear list: Fall Gear List or Winter Gear List. You'll need to have all your gear with you when you arrive at Prescott College.  You might want to checkout the gear videos on this website to learn more about the gear we ask you to bring.  You can also contact Cecil Goodman, the Orientation Director, with further questions: cgoodman@prescott.edu or 928-350-2305.  There is also a simple gear list for Community Based Orientation. 

Where can I buy gear in Prescott?

Where can I buy gear in Prescott?

What if I can't afford all the gear on the list?

What if I can't afford all the gear on the list?

Gear is expensive.  If you are planning on studying adventure education at PC, it is worthwhile to invest in quality gear.  If you looking for discounted or rental gear, we've listed options and resources on the gear list.  If you are still worried about the financial obligation please contact Cecil Goodman, the Orientation Director, for more suggestions: cgoodman@prescott.edu or 928-350-2305.

What if I've never been hiking/camping before?

What if I've never been hiking/camping before?

No worries!  You'll probably be on Orientation with other students who haven't been hiking or camping before.  We design Orientation so that it is accessible for students of all experiences and backgrounds.  Your instructors will help prepare you for your Orientation experience during the first couple of days in town and throughout the expedition.  If you are worried about your physical abilities, remember that many, many people of all different experience levels have completed Orientation.  That being said, it is important and necessary to get in shape for Orientation.  An average day of hiking can range from 3 to 8 miles depending on the terrain.  You will need to be able to carry a pack that weighs a third of your body weight and  hike long days on trails and off trails.  Please incorporate physical training into your preparation for Prescott College.  You'll be so happy that you did!  Ideas for getting in "Orientation" shape include hiking, biking, yoga, strength training, swimming and other forms of cardio training.  Check in with Cecil Goodman, the Orientation Director, with further questions: cgoodman@prescott.edu or 928-350-2305.

What if I've been hiking/camping/in the backcountry a lot?

What if I've been hiking/camping/in the backcountry a lot?

Great! We are excited to incorporate your past experiences into your Orientation course.  All students, even if they are professional guides or outdoor educators, are required to go on Orientation.  Orientation is not just about backpacking; it's about learning about and building connection to a new place and a new community.  Prescott College is committed to individualized learning.  Orientation can be your first opportunity to incorporate your previous experience into personal learning goals within the existing academic framework.

What if I get hurt on Orientation? Is this safe?

What if I get hurt on Orientation? Is this safe?

At least one of your instructors will be a certified Wilderness First Responder (WFR) and have medical training for emergencies and evacuations in the backcountry. All groups carry satellite phones and first aid medical supplies with them.  If you do have to leave the backcountry for a medical reason, you will fulfill your course requirements by joining the in-town Community Based Orientation.  If you have more questions about our risk management policies on Orientation, please contact Cecil Goodman, Orientation Director at cgoodman@prescott.edu or 928-350-2305.

What if I have kids, a disability, am injured, or want something different?

What if I have kids, a disability, am injured, or want something different?

We offer a Community Based Orientation (CBO) option for students whose personal circumstances necessitate a different Orientation course than Wilderness Orientation or those who feel like this option is a better fit.  This course meets the same learning objectives as Wilderness Orientation without the backcountry framework; it is a 4 credit lower division course.   Curriculum is focused on the exploration of social and environmental justice issues and building connections to place, self, and community.  Students may explore and participate in current block courses, visit cultural sites in and around Prescott, participate in high and low ropes courses, go on day hikes in the Prescott area, visit the Grand Canyon, and engage in community events and service projects.  CBO does not meet the field prerequisite necessary for enrolling in field courses at Prescott College.  In order to enroll, please fill out the online application.  However, you must contact Cecil Goodman, the Orientation Director, to fully enroll: cgoodman@prescott.edu or 928-350-2305.

What do we eat on Wilderness Orientation?

What do we eat on Wilderness Orientation?

Unlike other field courses at Prescott College, on Wilderness Orientation most of your food has already been bought and packed and paid for by your student course fee. Breakfast and dinner on Orientation are eaten as a group and might be gluten-free pesto pasta, burritos, lentil soup, granola, oatmeal...light, dehydrated, easy-to-carry food is key.  We try to accommodate individuals' allergy or food preference needs.  You will learn about expeditionary food planning during the in-town preparation days with your instructors and as group will buy some fresh food to add to your group meals.   You will also be responsible for planning, buying, and packing your own lunch food.  Community Based Orientation will not have the same field food needs.  Any field trip food needs will be planned by the group.

How do we carry that much food and gear on Wilderness Orientation?

How do we carry that much food and gear on Wilderness Orientation?

Packs on Orientation are heavy for sure, but your instructors will help you maintain a pack weight that is appropriate in proportion to your body weight and physical capabilities.  On Orientation we use Prescott College group gear (stoves, tarps, tents etc.) that are durable and lightweight for backpacking expeditions.  We also have a resupply: a rendezvous point with Orientation staff that is halfway through your Orientation route.  At resupply, Orientation staff will bring you food and gear for the second half of your course so that you don't have to carry it all with you.  You also get treats, mail, and a delicious meal!  If your friends and family want to send you mail or treats at Resupply they can!  Check the Orientation Updates page for more information as to how to send packages to Resupply.

Where do we sleep on Orientation?

Where do we sleep on Orientation?

Depending on if you are going on Orientation during fall or winter blocks, you will bring a Prescott College issued shelter (tarps or tents).  You will sleep under a shelter with members of your group if you choose, (under the stars if you want), on a sleeping pad and in your sleeping bag.  Students should not bring their own tents or shelters. 

If you are enrolled in Community Based Orientation, you will be living in-town in your own house or college housing.

What is the Solo experience?

What is the Solo experience?

Every Orientation student, including Community Based Orientation students, will have the option to participate in a Solo experience.  Solo on Orientation is an opportunity to connect with yourself in this time of change and transition in your life.  Students are given a "Solo site" where they set up a small, personal shelter and stay for 48 to 72 hours depending on the group's itinerary.  If you are curious about our Solo policies, please contact Cecil Goodman, Orientation Director, at cgoodman@prescott.edu or 928-350-2305.

Why Orientation?

Why Orientation?

Orientation has been a part of the academic journey for nearly every student at Prescott College for over 45 years!  Each students', every groups', and every instructors', learning experiences on Orientation are unique.  Orientation continues to remain an integral part of each students' experience because of what it can teach all of us - despite our individual and diverse backgrounds and experiences.  Orientation teaches us how to forge connections to place, community, and self.  For more information on what it's like to go on Orientation, check out the Orientation video on this website.