The W.I.L.D. Semester is offered through the department of Recreation and Leisure Studies. The program runs each Fall Semester, and provides students an opportunity to develop outdoor leadership and certification skills while being grounded in the foundations, philosophies, and cultural dimensions of outdoor education. The goal of the W.I.L.D. Semester is to train and certify visionary leaders who are prepared to be agents of change in the world. Some students go on to lead in wilderness contexts, and many others apply these transferrable leadership skills to a variety of career paths.
Housing and meals are provided in a small-group, living and learning community located off-campus from Gordon College, usually near the ocean. The extended wilderness training and certification expedition has been held in five different locations: in 2005 the semester offered a 21-day sea kayaking and mountaineering expedition in Baja; in 2007 students traveled to Wyoming's Wind River Range for a 25-day backpacking expedition; in 2009 this trip took place in the Frank Church Wilderness of Idaho; in 2011 the group spent three weeks exploring the John Muir Wilderness in the Sierra Nevada of California; and in 2012 the WILD Semester students completed a whitewater guide training in Maine before venturing through over 110 miles of wilderness on the Colorado Trail. Successful completion of the semester (along with a practicum/internship experience) provides students an Outdoor Education minor or a concentration within the Recreation and Leisure Studies Department or an Outdoor Education concentration within the Christian Ministries major.
The total number of students is limited to a maximum of 12. Gordon students majoring in Recreation and Leisure Studies will be given preference for the program. However other Gordon College students and students from other colleges are welcome to apply. Non-Gordon students have participated in past semesters, using it as a study abroad opportunity.
All participants should be able to:
- Make the statement of Christian faith expected of Gordon College students
- Be physically prepared to handle rigorous outdoor training
- Adjust to a small-group intensive living/learning experience
- Handle challenging academic curriculum
- Have a minimum 2.5 overall GPA entering the application process
The W.I.L.D. Semester in Outdoor Education utilizes a format of "block" classes which provides students an opportunity to focus and interact with one subject at a time. Most courses utilize extensive field opportunities as well as an exciting slate of guest lecturers and experts in the field as well as visits to other adventure programs around New England.
Students earn 16 credits, taking the following courses:
- OEI 241 - Foundations of Outdoor Education - 4CR
- OEI 243 - Philosophies and Theories of Outdoor Education and Leadership - 4CR
- OEI 343 - Expeditionary Training and Wilderness Education Association Certification - 4CR
- OEI 371 - Humans, Nature and Human Nature - 4CR
In addition to the 16 credits, the Immersion Semester provides the following experiences:
- "Outdoor Leadership" certification from the Wilderness Education Association
- "Wilderness Advanced First Aid" or "Wilderness First Responder" certification from the Wilderness Medical Associates
- "Leave No Trace" certification taught by our own LNT master educator
- AMGA "top-roping anchors" workshop
- Level 1 Technical Ropes Course Certification
- Advanced Facilitation ropes course workshop taught by our own Project Adventure trainer or at a PA site
- Introductory workshops in sea kayaking, orienteering, GPS (global positioning systems), etc.
This program is offered every Fall semester. Application is online. Applications are now being accepted for the Fall 2013 W.I.L.D. Semester.
Both Gordon students and non-Gordon students pay normal Gordon costs for the semester (tuition, light board, room and fees). Please reference the current year's cost for these charges. Gordon students may apply all scholarships, loans, etc. to the cost of the program, EVEN IF THEY HAVE DONE ANOTHER SEMESTER ABROAD. The WILD Semester can be done in addition to another GEO program and you can normally apply financial aid to both. Non-Gordon students should check with their home institution regarding financial assistance policies.
Included in the costs are:
- Certification fees
- Ground transportation to all program-related venues
- Round-trip airfare to the wilderness certification venue
- Room and board
- All professional workshops
W.I.L.D. SEMESTER Information:
As you think about and plan for the semester, we would like to remind you of a few things:
- La Vida is a pre-requisite for the W.I.L.D. semester because it helps prepare students for the extended expedition the W.I.L.D. Semester. Gordon students who have taken Discovery are required to go on La Vida prior to W.I.L.D., but may petition to forego this requirement. Non-Gordon students are strongly encouraged to participate in a La Vida expedition prior to the W.I.L.D. Semester, but may also petition for alternative wilderness experiences to fulfill that requirement.
- During the W.I.L.D. Semester, students live in a community house with a resident director who facilitates community meal preparation, weekend adventures, and spiritual growth opportunities.
- During the semester, students will have days and time off, but the semester schedule needs to remain fairly flexible in order to accommodate extracurricular experiences, guest lecturers, community activities, etc.
- For the sake of the living/learning environment and schedule, students are not allowed to make commitments outside of W.I.L.D. to participate on athletic teams, ministries, clubs, etc. or anything else that would take them away on a regular basis(except church attendance).
- An approved practicum experience after the semester (either an internship or co-op) is required for students who wish to pursue the concentration or minor in Outdoor Education. All students receive 16 academic credits upon completion of W.I.L.D. Semester courses, regardless of whether they choose to pursue complete an internship or co-op after the semester.
Frequently Asked Questions:
- What equipment will I need? A comprehensive equipment list will be given to you with plenty of time to prepare and purchase equipment.
- What if I don’t own some of the equipment? Your tuition fee covers much of this equipment and you might be able to borrow some of the equipment from former students. The La Vida Center has pro-deals with many companies and can get you a discount on any additional equipment you need.
- Can I have visitors at the W.I.L.D. house? Yes, there will be time set aside for visitors. Some Semester groups have hosted guest nights once a week and had friends over for dinner.
- Are there classes everyday? No, but there could be a guest lecturer or the group might take a field trip to visit a program or learn a specialized skill.
- What happens on the weekends? Some weekends are free, and a other weekends are given to new skill development such as mountain biking, canoeing, kayaking, etc.
- What if I have special dietary needs? No problem. The food service manager will consult with you and the group to make sure the food meets your needs and likes.
- What kind of spiritual emphasis will there be? The semester operates as a Christian community and will encourage personal faith development and biblically based living.
- Can my practicum experience be at my summer camp or at any outdoor program? It depends. The site must be an approved site with an experienced outdoor program and director.
- Can I do my practicum experience before the WILD Semester? No, the goal of the practicum is to put into practice the skills and knowledge gained during the semester.
- Will I be able to attend Church? Yes, you will be encouraged to remain engaged at church.
- Will the community house have an internet connection? Yes.
Director of W.I.L.D. Semester