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. With regular physical activity leading up to the trip, you will have no problem thriving during your WOOT experience. With that said, they are a bit more than your average walk in the park.
Classifying Level Of challenge
Less strenuous: These WOOT trips are ideal for someone who is seeking an opportunity to become comfortable in the outdoors. They are designed to introduce the foundational skills of backpacking and sea kayaking. For backpacking sessions, you are responsible for hiking 3 to 7 miles a day with a 30-50 lb pack on, minimal elevation gain, and have layover days with the option for taking longer day hikes with lighter packs. For kayak sessions, you will use Viqueen Lodge as home-base and paddle for 2-3 hours a day to explore the San Juan Islands.
Moderate: These WOOT trips at the moderate level are ideal for someone with an average comfortability and experience in the outdoors. It is a great opportunity to challenge yourself if you are an avid hiker and camper, but have limited backpacking or sea kayaking experience. For the backpacking sessions, you will carry a 30-50lb pack and hike around 4 to 10 miles a day with low to moderate elevation gain. For kayak sessions, you will use Viqueen Lodge as home-base and paddle for 3-4 hours a day, with the opportunity to venture out setting up camp away from the lodge on a neighboring island.
More strenuous: These WOOT trips are for those who are very experienced in the outdoors, including experience with elevation, familiarity with technical skills for both kayaking and backpacking, and have a high level of comfortability with long days and strenuous exercise. For the backpacking sessions, you are expected to carry 30-50 lb packs and hike 5 to 12 miles a day with substantial elevation gain. For kayak sessions, you will be touring from island to island, setting up camp, and paddling for up to 4-6 hours a day.
WHAT DOES A TYPICAL DAY LOOK LIKE?
(Additional details can be found in FAQ tab)
Upon arrival you will meet your WOOT Leaders for the first time on campus! You will receive polished details on the route, set group expectations, explore individual goals, and begin your shared experience through fun games and activities. During this planning and preparation stage, you will review all equipment lists, check-out necessary items, help divide and sort the group gear/food, and become comfortable with packing and carrying a moderate to heavy load. Following, your WOOT crew will have its first group dinner together where you can get stoked on the trip ahead of you with your leaders and fellow WOOTers! Post-dinner activities may include walking down to the local ice cream shop or checking out one of the many parks nearby. Lastly you will return to your dorms for the night. In the morning you will wake up rested and eager to start the field section of your WOOT Experience
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 activity 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. Once packs are on, boots are tied, and morning yawns have dissipated, you will hit the trail and begin trekking 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. After a long day of hiking, rolling into camp brings a sense of familiarity as everyone celebrates the day’s successes, and prepares for nightly activities and duties. 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 the same foundational goals and objectives around group and individual growth as our backpacking trips, but differs in the mode of transportation and overnight accommodations. Students will take a boat charter to Sinclair Island, where the first day is spent developing paddle skills, kayak safety, and increasing comfortability on open water. Viqueen Lodge is utilized as a headquarters on Sinclair Island, where the group will return most nights after paddling around neighboring islands. These islands include Cypress Island, Vendovi Island, and Orcas Island, which can all be explored by foot, and makes for an incredible lunch spot! Depending on the group goals and sea conditions, there is also likely to be overnight trips to the neighboring islands mentioned!