Creating the Extraordinary Student Experience

  • International Trips and STEP Signature Projects International Trips and STEP Signature Projects
  • International Trips and STEP Signature Projects International Trips and STEP Signature Projects

International Trips and STEP Signature Projects

The Outdoor Adventure Center (OAC) collaborates with various university offices to bring students transformative experiences both domestic and abroad. These experiences are designed to meet the expectations of the Second Year Transformational Program (STEP) and strive to be truly life changing experiences. The OAC uses its expertise in trip planning, group development and logistics to design and implement trips that engage students in unique ways and are culturally sensitive to places and people we visit. This page exposes students to our annual offerings, which are planned 1 - 2 years in advance. General trip details can be found here. Thanks to our experience in planning trips, international partnerships and advanced booking, we are able to save students considerable funds compared with students going to external vendors. Adventure awaits!

Australia and New Zealand Adventure

Registration opens late November for May 2020

The trip to Australia and New Zealand will encompass international flights to and from the United States, Sydney, Australia and Christchurch, New Zealand, where we will immerse ourselves in the rich and vibrant culture of the southern continent and countries, traveling to many cities and towns, striking a balance between adventure and leadership development. You can anticipate sea-kayaking, rafting, biking, hiking, rainforest trekking, surfing, snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef (with optional scuba diving), surfing, stand-up paddle-boarding and glacier exploration.  Optional activities will include sky-diving, bungee-jumping, horseback riding, paragliding, wildlife sanctuaries and more.

Accommodations will include hostels, lodges and hotels. Leadership theory presentations will be intertwined with these experiences and participants will be actively involved in the leadership process.

For more information on this once-in-a-lifetime experience, contact: Tyler Young


High Sierra Leadership Adventure

Registration opens late November for July 2020 

This is an intense, 28-day backpacking expedition through 200 miles of the Sierra Nevada mountain range.  Traversing Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, each backpacker is an active participant in a proven, comprehensive, experiential leadership curriculum, taking-on such tasks as Leader of the Day (where one must lead the entire team through every single angle of expedition travel – path, navigation, elevation gain/loss, mileage, weather, emergency and risk management, water access and food, wildlife management, site location and management, group engagement and dynamics, team physical wellness/endurance, etc.), modeling and presenting leadership theories and mastering/educating on backcountry survival skills.  In short, the intense and rigorous curriculum of the program turns the topic of ‘leadership’ on its face, where each team member is jointly responsible for each step of the journey from start to finish along the incredible scenes of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) and John Muir Trail (JMT).  After an extended trek along the John Muir Trail, the assembled team will create an actionable plan toward summiting Mount Whitney – at 14,508 feet, the mountain stands as the highest point of elevation in the Lower 48 contiguous states. 

Costa Rica Service Adventure

Registration is through Buck-I-Serv office, trip available Winter and Spring break

This Buck-I-Serv trip to Costa Rica will place students in a cross-cultural environment in which they will have the opportunity to have a once-in-a-lifetime service adventure! The beginning of the week will include service for infrastructure improvements to local community centers, schools or service-oriented impact with central organizations for childhood development and resources. The week’s service will also include beach clean-up and hiking trail development. The outdoor adventure activities will include river rafting, hiking through rainforests and an introduction to surfing. Housing during the trip will consist of a mixture of camping and local home-stays. Tents/sleeping bags/mats and all other gear needed for the trip.

What's included: trip fee includes all meals, transportation, trip leader instruction and activity-specific gear rental (excludes personal clothing and footwear).


Grand Canyon Service Adventure

Registration opens late November for May 2020

Students will be serving the Palatki Heritage Site in the Coconino National Forest, a site visited by thousands each year. Restoration work and manual labor will ensure access for many years to come. Interpretive guides will share the story of Native Americans who used these cliff dwellings hundreds of years ago and the importance of keeping these heritage sites for future generations. Following this work, students will continue north and begin a challenging, bucket-list backpack into the awe-inspiring Grand Canyon. Over 2.5 days, the group will be backpacking 15-20 miles, camping below the rim of the Grand Canyon for two nights. Finally, the trip concludes with 2.5 days of whitewater rafting at the bottom of the Grand Canyon, complete with travertine waterfalls and river side camping. Impromptu service projects in the Canyon will arise based on group ability and direction from Park Rangers.


Utah Canyon Exploration

Registration opens late October for Spring break 2020

Enjoy Spring break by exploring some of America’s most renowned National Parks, including Zion, Escalante and Bryce. Participants will improve their backpacking, climbing and navigation skills while exploring the red rocks and canyons of Utah. Leadership theory presentations will be intertwined with these experiences and participants will be actively involved in the leadership process.


"Every individual comes to the trip with their own unique set of experiences and what they experience together is something that only they will understand. Their outcomes will likely be different than mine, and that’s great. The only thing I can promise is that two years from now they will be thinking about this trip and what it means to them. The mountains don’t give you up easily." 

Wes W. – High Sierra 2017 


An except from a student reflection: 

"Here are just a few of the things that I learned:

1) People are incredible - build relationships with them

2) People notice if you're being nice

3) I need to actually do things that scare me

4) Leadership is as much about the people as it is the ideas

5) Everyone's dealing with something

6) Cooking your own meals is liberating

7) Bunk beds = bonding

8) Meetings and conversation are critical to any team

9) A phone is no replacement for human interaction


What will I do differently? 

1) Reach out to people, both friends and strangers

2) When something scares me, do it

3) At least once a week, set goals and plan 

4) Always have something to write with

5) Never try to use a phone and interact with someone in person at the same time. It's one or the other." 

Chris B. - Australia/New Zealand 2018