Founded in 1978, Williams Outdoor Orientation for Living as First-Years (WOOLF) is the oldest and most popular 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 very committed to making its outdoors orientation trips as accessible as possible regardless of class, race, gender, ability, etc.
Trips vary in mileage and rigor, so browse the trip descriptions below to determine which trip would be the best fit!
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 freshman 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 crucial soft skills, like facilitating a positive group dynamic and promoting inclusivity and accessibility, as well as the important hard 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 freshman 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
- Beginner Backpacking – Absolutely no experience necessary. Learn the basics of backpacking. Under 5 miles per day.
- Intermediate Backpacking – For those who have been on a backpacking trip before. Daily mileage is approximately 5-10 miles.
- Advanced Backpacking – Cover some distance on the Appalachian or Long Trails. 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 and everything from sketching and 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