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About W.I.L.D. Semester

The Wilderness Immersion and Leadership Development (W.I.L.D.)Semester uses outdoor adventures and intentional Christian community to equip leaders to impact the world for Christ. The program runs each Fall Semester, and provides students an opportunity to develop outdoor leadership and facilitation skills necessary for a career in the outdoors, but also the Christian character and life skills which are crucial to making a difference in whatever vocation God calls you to.

Completing the W.I.L.D. Semester along with a practicum gives students a minor in Outdoor Education. It also can be used to complete a concentration in outdoor education for either Recreation, Sport, and Wellness or Christian Ministries majors.

Foundations of the W.I.L.D. Semester:


We come alive through adventures because the inherent risks demand that we step up and use our skills and abilities to the fullest. The wilderness provides adventure through natural challenges with real consequences. Overcoming these challenges requires problem-solving, critical thinking, and the ability to lead and follow well as to work within a team. These life skills transfer back to “real life” enabling students to embrace the adventure of the Christian life.


People are created to live and learn in communion with others. The WILD Semester capitalizes on this through both lives on the trail and students living together in a house in intentional Christian community. Life together involves eating, working and playing together. It is here that lessons about solving the conflict, seeking to understand others’ perspectives, and the need to serve others continually are not just theory but are lived out in daily practice.

Experiential Education

We believe that students must be active discoverers of Truth rather than passive receivers of information. Learning should be hands-on with immediate opportunities to apply theoretical content in practical experiences. Abstract concepts like leadership and compassion are difficult to learn through books and lectures. Students need opportunities to learn through direct experience followed by meaningful feedback.

Care for Creation

Scripture tells us that God is clearly revealed in the beauty of his Creation. Being immersed in nature is one of the primary ways to know our Creator and to allow ourselves to be known by Him. As students enter into an intimate relationship with the created world, they come to understand the importance of preserving it. Life in the wilderness emphasizes the value of living simply. Students explore together the realities of simplicity as the key to sustainability.


The wilderness encourages us to slow down and spend time in deep thought. Students have the opportunity to step away from the busyness and noise of modern life and spend time going deeper in their faith. Students reflect, not in isolation, but in a community that helps to mirror God’s light to each other so that each student can understand how to maximize their gifts and overcome their weaknesses

W.I.L.D. Experiences

  • Multi-week expedition in the wilderness of Montana
  • Swiftwater rescue training and whitewater rafting in Maine
  • Backpacking in the Adirondacks of New York
  • Living in intentional Christian community in a house overlooking the ocean
  • Weekend excursions to learn rock climbing, mountain biking, paddle boarding, or other outdoor pursuits
  • Challenge course certification
  • Wilderness Advanced First Aid training through Wilderness Medical Associates


The total number of students is limited to a maximum of 12. Gordon students majoring in Recreation, Sport and Wellness will be given preference.  However, students of any major are welcome and the program has included students from almost every major at Gordon. We welcome Non-Gordon students who use the semester 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 semester utilizes a format of "block" classes which provides students an opportunity to focus and interact with one subject at a time. 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 - 4CR
  • OEI 371 - Humans, Nature, and Human Nature - 4CR


This program is offered every Fall semester and the application is online. Applications are now being accepted for the Fall 2017 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 Global Education 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:

  • Tuition
  • Certification fees
  • Ground transportation to all program-related venues
  • Round-trip airfare to the wilderness expedition location
  • 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:

  • 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, any commitments outside of W.I.L.D. to participate on athletic teams, ministries, clubs, etc. or anything else that would take students away on a regular basis must be approved by the Director
  • 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:

  • Can a non-Gordon students do the W.I.L.D. Semester? Of course. We welcome students from other schools. Students from within the Christian College Consortium and the Coalition of Christian Colleges and Universities should have no problem completing the semester as a study abroad program. Students from other schools are welcome but may have a harder time transferring credits. Talk to your school's registrar or study abroad office about transferring the credits
  • 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 all of the necessary equipment. We can supply you with a high-quality backpack, sleeping bag, sleeping pad and all other gear. Or you are welcome to use your own if you wish.
  • 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 every day? Usually. The emphasis will be on hands-on, experiential learning.  Many days will involve a guest lecturer or a field trip to visit a program or learn a specialized skill.
  • What happens on the weekends? Some weekends are free, and 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 specifically focuses on how to use outdoor adventure education for spiritual growth.  This is based on the philosophy of the Christian liberal arts that every discipline should help us to know God and his world more fully and inspire us to love and serve Him and his people.  The program operates as a Christian community and will encourage personal faith development and biblically based living through structured spiritual formation experiences.
  • Can my practicum experience be at my summer camp or at any outdoor program? It depends on. 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.  


Scott Barnett
Director of W.I.L.D. Semester
P 978 867 4893