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Outdoor Action

Leadership Starts Here

Outdoor Action is now an integrated part of Freshmen Orientation

Starting in 2016 the OA Frosh Trip will be an integrated part of the orientation process for incoming freshmen. Next fall students will arrive on September 3 for two days of orientation in the residential colleges followed by either a 5-day Outdoor Action or Community Action trip. There will be a new program for fall freshmen athletes that incorporates some of the same trail-side discussions about campus life that happens on OA.
This is a momumental step forward for OA. It recognizes and applauds the impact that OA has had for freshmen for over forty years and transforms the program from 'optional pre-orientation' to an integrated and integral part of the orientation process. I want to say thank you to the thousands of OA Alumni Leaders who dedicated themselves to helping incoming students get the very best start at Princeton. You created the model that the University has chosen to implement.
Going forward the OA Frosh Trip will be offered at no charge to all participants. Also, the OA Leader Training Program will now be free to all participants.

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Frosh Trip Invitation Letter

Dear Member of the Class of 2019:

Congratulations, you are now part of the Princeton community! Before classes start, do you want to meet other freshmen, learn about Princeton, get to know upperclassmen, have a truly unique orientation experience, and have incredibly fun adventures in the outdoors? Go on the Outdoor Action Frosh Trip!

The Outdoor Action Frosh Trip is Princeton’s oldest and largest pre-orientation program for freshmen that will introduce you to new friends and allow you to learn about Princeton before Orientation Week. This is the 42nd year of our program and during that time over 19,400 Princeton students have participated in the Frosh Trip, more than any other pre-orientation program at Princeton. Every year, over half the incoming freshmen class joins OA on a five-day trip in the outdoors doing things like hiking, canoeing, rock climbing, biking, farming, working on trail service projects, or participating in other outdoor activities. Last year, 713 members (over 55 percent) of the Class of 2018 participated in the trip. With so many students participating, you’ll get to meet a wonderful cross-section of the incredible diversity of the Class of 2019. We offer trips for all levels of experience and physical ability, so there’s a trip for everyone. For information, photos, quotes from student participants, and more details go to the OA Web site. This year, trips will run from Sunday, September 6 through Thursday, September 10. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to start your college experience and over 230 Outdoor Action leaders here at Princeton hope you will join us. You can watch videos from previous trips.

No Previous Experience Required: Outdoor Action Trips are open to all freshmen. Most students who participate have never been hiking or camping before. Even if you don’t have any previous outdoor experience, there are trips that you’ll enjoy and it’s a great chance to try something new. Of course, if you have previous outdoor experience, you’ll feel right at home on the Frosh Trip.

Outdoor Action Leaders: OA Leaders are some of the most energetic and engaged students at Princeton. They are also leaders outside of OA through their involvement in performing groups, student organizations, student government, sports teams, community service, and the full spectrum of academic majors. Your leaders have extensive training in outdoor skills and can teach you all the things you need to know to be comfortable in the outdoors. After your trip, we hope you’ll consider becoming an OA Leader—one of the most fun extracurricular activities at Princeton.

Trip Activities & Locations: OA trips take place across the mid-Atlantic and New England states from Virginia to Vermont so you’ll get to explore a wonderful part of the eastern U.S. The What is Frosh Trip brochure describes the various trip activities that we offer. Read the descriptions and indicate on your application what type of trip you would prefer.

To assign you to a specific trip we take a number of things into account including your trip preferences, the trip activity level you request, your physical condition, as well as any special needs you have so we'll find a trip that you’ll be comfortable with. We’ll do our best to place you in your first or second choice trip, but keep in mind that certain types of trips have a limited enrollment, so please indicate several preferences. If you have any special needs that will impact the type of trip you can participate in, please indicate this on your application. We accept participants to the program by the date of your application, but we don’t assign people to specific types of trips (backpacking, canoeing, outdoor adventure, etc.) until all applications are in so we can review everyone's needs. You’ll receive detailed information in mid-July informing you what type of trip you will be on and the specific equipment to bring. You will find out your exact trip location when you arrive on campus in on September 5.

Cost, Financial Aid & Payment: The cost of the trip covers all trip expenses (food, transportation, personal & group equipment, etc.). Princeton University is committed to making sure that the Frosh Trip Program is available to all members of the Class of 2019. Therefore, if you are receiving need-based University scholarship funds, your cost for the Outdoor Action trip is fully subsidized. The trip fee is covered by funding from the Financial Aid Office. You don’t need to do anything to request aid; we will confirm everyone’s eligibility with the Financial Aid Office. The fee for your Outdoor Action Trip will be charged to your University bill on August 1. If you are eligible for financial aid you will receive a credit applied to your University bill from the Financial Aid Office to cover your trip fee. If you are unsure whether or not you qualify as a need-based aid recipient, please check with the Financial Aid Office by calling 609-258-3330 or emailing

Trip Dates & Arrival: This year the trips will run from Sunday, September 6 through Thursday, September 10. You will need to arrive on campus on Saturday, September 5. Your residential college will host a lunch and activities for you and your family between 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. with special meetings for freshmen beginning at 2:00 p.m. in your Residential College. Please consult the schedule at Pathway to Princeton ( Check-in for Outdoor Action is in Dillon Gym at 5:00 p.m. You will be able to pick up your room key and move into your dorm room on Saturday, September 5. Housing check-in will be open from 8:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. on Saturday for you to sign your housing contract and pick up your room key. At 5:00 p.m. you check in at Dillon Gym, meet your trip leaders and the other members of your group, and get any equipment you need. That evening will be spent getting to know your group and packing up for your departure on Sunday morning.

Any students who will not be able to arrive by 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, such as students flying in from the West Coast, students coming from overseas, or students who observe the Jewish Sabbath, should call the OA office by July 15 to make special arrival arrangements. The trip ends on Thursday, September 10. Groups typically return to campus between 3:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m. on Thursday and you’ll be back in time for all aspects of Orientation Week. The dates of the trip conflict with fall varsity sports teams. If you are a fall varsity sport athlete, you should check with your coach about when you are required to arrive on campus for fall training.

Physical Condition: OA trips are fun and active. We offer trips at various physical activity levels so we can provide an experience that is comfortable for everyone. Most of our trips involve hiking, so to determine the level of physical activity for each trip we look at many factors including how flat or steep the trail is and how many miles a day of hiking. The Base Camp & Outdoor Adventure, Base Camp & Community Service, and Sustainable Farming trips stay in one place the entire week and are less strenuous. Your answers about your physical condition will help us place you on a trip that will be at the right level for you, and please indicate what level of trip you would be most comfortable with.

Students with Differing Abilities: Outdoor Action can often accommodate students with differing abilities such as hearing impairments, visual impairments, or mobility limitations. In the past students with conditions such as diabetes, profound deafness, cystic fibrosis and mild cerebral palsy have participated. Please contact OA Director, Rick Curtis, at 609-258-6230 to discuss your particular needs and trip options.

International Students: We encourage all international students to participate in the Frosh Trip. It is a great way to see different parts of the U.S., learn about Princeton and share your culture with other members of your class. The optional international student pre-orientation program takes place before the Frosh Trip so you can participate in both programs. Last year 80 percent of the international students who participated in the international student pre-orientation program (representing over 35 countries) also chose to participate in Outdoor Action. We make a special effort to ensure that we can meet the needs of all international students so please contact us if you have any questions.

Religious Observance: There will be religious services including a Catholic Mass and an Episcopal Service on campus on Saturday evening, September 5. The University Chapel will be open early Sunday morning (the day trips depart) for personal observance. For information on specific services and times see Religious Services.

What You Need to Bring: There is very little equipment you will need other than personal clothing and lightweight hiking boots. You will also need a synthetic-fill sleeping bag with a nylon shell (please no cotton sleeping bags) and since most of our trips involve backpacking, an internal or external frame backpack. If possible, please borrow these items from a friend or relative since we have hundreds of students who need equipment. If you do not have either a sleeping bag or a backpack, indicate that on your application and Outdoor Action can provide that equipment. In July we will send you a detailed equipment list and instructions on how to prepare for your trip. The equipment varies based on the type of trip you are assigned to (ex. Backpacking trip vs. Bike Trip). You can review the Equipment Lists now and we'll send you the specific list for the type of trip you've been assigned to in early July after all the applications have been received.

Food on the Trip – Vegetarians & Students who keep Kosher or Halaal or Jain: OA’s basic menu uses a limited amount of meat (salmon and chicken for some meals). Meals are prepared as a group and are easily tailored for vegetarians. Most of the food products on OA are kosher and the menu will meet the needs of many students keeping kosher or Halaal. If you are vegan, halaal, Jain, keep strictly kosher and require kosher pots, or have other special dietary needs such as food allergies, please include detailed information in your application with your specific needs or contact the OA office so that we can speak with you in person about your particular needs. An updated OA menu will be available online after July 15.

Information for Parents: More than any other pre-orientation program, Outdoor Action focuses on helping new students learn about college and become part of the diverse campus that is Princeton. Outdoor Action leaders complete one of the most extensive outdoor skills training programs for college outdoor leaders including certification in Wilderness First Aid, leadership, group dynamics, team building, and diversity skills to provide the best possible orientation experience for new students. Research conducted to evaluate Outdoor Action and similar programs has found that outdoor orientation programs, with their unique small group environment, are the most effective means for building strong social networks for new students. This is one reason why Princeton considers OA such an important program. University President Chris Eisgruber calls the Outdoor Action Program: “one of Princeton's crown jewels.”

Since students can move their belongings into their dorm room on Saturday, September 5, most parents come to campus that weekend. The freshmen won’t actually sleep in their room that night (it’s too hard to wake everyone up for the early bus departure on Sunday morning) so the whole group will sleep in one of their leaders’ rooms. If all of the roommates are not back early to participate in a pre-orientation program or fall sports, the Housing Office encourages people to wait until all the roommates are on campus before setting up the room.

Outdoor Action has Support Teams staying in a motel nearby each trip area to respond to any problems during the trip. Trip leaders are trained in emergency procedures and each trip carries a cell phone or satellite phone, although phone coverage is not always available. OA operates a Communications Center on campus throughout the trip to keep track of groups during the week and to respond to any problems. Additional information for parents is available at

Application: Submit your application online starting on May 27. It gives you an instant registration date for your application and an email confirmation that your application has been received. You will need your University NETID which will be mailed to you in late May.

The application provides us with information about your trip preferences, physical condition (to help us place you in an appropriate trip), health history, and any special needs. Space on the trip is limited and enrollment is on a first-come, first-served basis. Applications are processed based on your Web sign-up date or postmark date. Due to the popularity of the program, we suggest you submit your application as soon as possible. The trip will fill before the application deadline (June 30). We have had a waiting list for the past several years so if you wait until late to apply, there may not be a space for you. If you need to make early airline reservations to secure a good fare, make sure that your application is sent in time to guarantee you a space. If enrollment is filled, we will notify you and place you on our waiting list.

Detailed information will be emailed to your Princeton email address in mid-July and posted on the OA Web site. It includes specific information on what items to bring, where and when to arrive, how to get your room key, and other important information. This second letter is your confirmation for participating in the program. If you do not receive an email by July 15, please call us to confirm that we received your application. We can’t hold a space for you if we do not receive an application. You can also check on the OA Web site on July 1 to confirm that you are on the list of participants.

Health Forms & Immunizations: To approve participation of applicants, the University Health Services Office requires that all Outdoor Action Program participants complete and return the matriculation health history forms to University Health Services by June 30. University Health Services has immunization requirements for Tetanus/Diptheria/Pertussis so please review those carefully. The Hepatitis B vaccine is given in three doses over six months. As long as you have started the Hepatitis B series, you can participate. Please make sure that you comply with all of Health Services’ immunization policies. We are not permitted to take people without medical clearance from Health Services. You may request an immunization exemption for religious reasons by checking the box on the application.

Please be sure to note the following:

Submit your application online starting May 27.

Have the following information ready:

  • Health Insurance Provider, policy/subscriber number, and group number
  • Date of last medical examination
  • Family physician name and phone number
  • Date of last Tetanus booster shot
  • Your signature and that of your parent or guardian is required on the Web application.
  • All applications are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. Application deadline is June 30. The program often fills before that date.
  • Make sure you complete your University medical forms by the required deadline.

We hope that you will join us in September! If you have questions about the program, please feel free to contact one of the Frosh Trip Program Coordinators, Jesse Caldwell ’16, Katie Glockner ’16, Thomas Kloehn ’17 or the Program Coordinator Caroline Stone ’14 at oatrip at, or call the Outdoor Action office at 609-258-6230. You can also find OA on Facebook for photos and videos. We look forward to seeing you in the fall. Have a great summer!

Submit your application online starting May 27

Outdoor Action Program
Dillon Court West

Princeton University
Princeton, NJ 08544