Outdoor Adventure Semester

Be inspired to become ...

an environmental scientist, wilderness therapist, international outdoor adventure tourist guide, environmental lawyer, educator, videographer, adventure photographer, outdoor adventure guide, National Park ranger, and more.

Ready for an outdoor experience unlike anything you've done before?

Join us for 70 days of outdoor adventuring in some of the most awe-inspiring places in the world! You will be backpacking and mountaineering in the North Cascades, whitewater rafting in Central Oregon and Idaho, rock climbing at the world-class Smith Rocks, and backpacking in the stunning Pueblos of Southeast Oregon. 


Earn 18 credits while learning to manage risks, cross glaciers, run rapids, facilitate group dynamics, build rock-climbing anchors, practice leading with integrity, develop your lens of systemic oppression, and climb mountains. The ultimate goal of this experience is to develop you as a whole person who will be able to lead others more effectively in the backcountry or in any profession you choose. 

The skills you will develop during the Outdoor Adventure Semester (OAS) can be combined with many other academic disciplines and used in a wide variety of professions and graduate schools. You will grow as a person during this experience because you will be challenged beyond preconceived limits, inspired by the power of nature, and placed in exciting and novel situations where you will need to apply new skills to solve complex problems. 

If you're looking to work in the outdoor industry, your extended time in the field will make you stand out to employers. The OAS provides you with the field time and skills you need to be competitive in the outdoor job market. It will also distinguish you for graduate schools and other professions that require a high degree of interpersonal and problem solving skills.

Any Pacific University student can apply for the OAS, but priority is given to Outdoor Leadership (OL) majors and minors in good academic standing. Every student applying for the OAS must complete Outdoor Leadership Theory and Practice (OL 205 & OL 206) classes and have a valid Wilderness First Responder (WFR). The WFR training can be taken at Pacific University or through NOLS, WMTC, WMA or SOLO. 

All Outdoor Leadership Majors and Applied Minors are required to participate in the Outdoor Adventure Semester.

Contact Phil Zook Friesen, Outdoor Leadership professor, with any questions: phil@pacificu.edu or 503-352-1452

Fall 2023 Outdoor Adventure Semester 

The fall 2023 Outdoor Adventure semester will be September 1­–November 9, 2023.

In the Outdoor Adventure Semester, you will complete the courses below: 

  • OL 399 Outdoor Adventure Semester (0 credits)
  • OL 260 Intro to Mountaineering (2 credits)
  • OL 360 Fundamentals of Alpinism (2 credits)
  • OL 330 Expedition Behavior (2 credits)
  • OL 158 Intro to Rock Climbing (2 credits)
  • OL 358 Sport Climbing Instructor (4 credits)
  • OL 159 Intro to Paddle Sports (2 credits)
  • OL 359 Fundamentals of Whitewater (4 credits)

rock climber silhouette on mountain

Fall 2023 Route

Students can meet in Forest Grove and ride to Mazama, Washington with a faculty member from Pacific University. The Outdoor Adventure Semester will start near Mazama at the Northwest Outward Bound (NWOB) basecamp. 

We will backpack and mountaineer in the North Cascades for approximately 22 days before driving to Central Oregon. In Central Oregon, we will raft on the Deschutes River and then drive to the Lower Salmon in Idaho to continue rafting. 

When we drive back from Idaho, we will start the rock climbing section at Smith Rocks in Oregon and complete our 70 days by backpacking in the Pueblos of Southeast Oregon. The Outdoor Adventure Semester (OAS) will end near Redmond, Oregon and a faculty from Pacific University will drive the group back to Forest Grove.  

Learn about application and selection information and program cost and payment.