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  • Odyssey Pre-Orientation Outdoor Experience

    This pre-orientation Odyssey program is a unique opportunity to get to know your fellow students before arriving on campus in August. Our trip leaders are Davidson students or graduates, trained in backcountry travel and leadership, who will help you learn new skills, face new challenges and make new friends.

Outdoor Odyssey

We offer the following Backcountry and Basecamp Odyssey sessions. Financial aid is available for each.

2018 Session Dates

  • Session I: Monday, July 16 - Saturday, July 21
  • Session II: Saturday, July 28 - Wednesday, Aug. 1
  • Session III: Wednesday, Aug. 8 - Wednesday, Aug. 15
  • Session III International / STRIDE: Wednesday Aug. 8 - Sunday, Aug. 12 (Available only to students participating in STRIDE or International Orientation)


Backcountry Odyssey takes place in the beautiful Appalachian Mountains in western North Carolina. Students cooperate and encourage each other as they backpack, camp, whitewater canoe, climb, mountain bike, or complete a service project, all while learning how to live outdoors with minimal impact on the environment. This is a vigorous program with all the challenges and rewards that come with time spent traveling and living in remote areas.


New this year, the Basecamp Odyssey is an opportunity to enjoy outdoor activities with your peers in a less remote environment. Like the Backcountry program, most activities take place in western N.C. The program features daytime excursions for hikes, rafting, lake canoeing or group initiatives. The exertion level of this program is less strenuous than the Backcountry Odyssey, and your group returns each evening to a developed campground with access to bathrooms and showers. The Basecamp experience is available during all five-day sessions.


Registration for the 2018 Odyssey pre-orientation experience will begin in February.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need to be an outdoor "expert" to enjoy the Backcountry Odyssey?

No. The Backcountry Odyssey is open to all incoming first-year and transfer students and is designed to accommodate any level of experience. Beginners are welcome. Backcountry Odyssey participants will spend the entire week outdoors.

What if I already have a lot of outdoor experience?

Even if you have a lot of personal experience with service, hiking, rock climbing, mountain biking, or paddling, you have never done them with this group-the members of your first-year class. Join us for the chance to share skills you enjoy while you build lasting connections with your classmates. 

What kind of shape do I need to be in?

You will enjoy the program more if you are fit. Forty minutes of aerobic activity three to four times per week for at least one month prior to the Odyssey should be adequate conditioning. In addition, we conduct a medical screening process to help you determine which trip is appropriate. 

What equipment will I need?

You will have to bring some specialized clothing and shoes appropriate for your activity. What-to-Bring lists are included for each activity in the paperwork that follows registration. Davidson Outdoors can provide your sleeping bag and pad, and all other group and activity specific gear. 

Why is Session III longer?

We decided to offer five-day Odyssey experiences for folks who were not able or willing to take a full week out of their summer. We hope that the shorter and more affordable nature of the first and second sessions will be attractive to those folks. Session III includes backpacking, whitewater canoeing, and service. Sessions I and II offer three days of a single outdoor activity like backpacking, canoeing, mountain biking, or climbing.

Is financial aid available?

Yes. Financial aid is available to students who have qualified for aid from Davidson.