College Programming and Orientation

Phoenix Outdoor Program

September 17 - 23, 2024


Phoenix Outdoor Program logo with campfire and phoenix, moon setting between pine trees.

While there are many programs on campus designed to welcome new students to the UChicago community, the Phoenix Outdoor Program (POP) is a camp-based program giving students a chance to explore the great outdoors, have experiences that are not possible on campus, while also forming small group bonds with new classmates and upper-class mentors. Wheter you have never slept in a tent before or you're already comfortable navigating the outdoors, there is a place for you in POP. 

Details for All Trips

    Dates: September 17-23, 2024

    Spaces Available: 115

    Cost: $500. Housing, meals, transportation, and any applicable admissions fees are included in the cost of the program. Students are responsible for incidental/personal expenses and transportation to campus before the start of the program.

    POP is a need-blind program—financial assistance is available for qualifying students and there is a place to request financial aid on the program application.

    Gear: Participants will need all items on the gear checklist but there's no need to purchase any items that you do not expect to use after the POP Trip. Group gear will be provided by POP and there is plenty of extra gear for participants to borrow, free of charge. Students accepted into the program will be able to submit requests to borrow gear. 


    • Applications will open on April 5, 2024
    • Applications close on Monday, June 10 at 10 AM CDT
    • Applicants will hear back by the end of June regarding their application status

    General Information

    • Spots are limited
    • Students may apply to as many Pre-Orientation Programs as interested, but if accepted, will only be offered a spot in one program. 

    All students participating in a Pre-Orientation program will stay in one residence hall for the duration of their program. For the Phoenix Outdoor Program, participants will stay on campus for the first night and depart for the trip on the second day. 

    Upon arriving on campus, students will be given a chance to drop their term-time items into a storage room in their residence hall before checking in for their program at the Pre-Orientation residence hall. If you are participating in a Pre-O program, you may bring all of your belongings for the academic year with you, though you will be responsible for getting those items into your term-time rooms upon arrival, so we recommend limiting how much you bring with you. All items you bring should be labeled with your name and phone number. Students should pack a separate bag for the week to bring to the Pre-Orientation residence hall.

    The campground we have reserved for POP Base Camp has accessible lodging designed for campers with varying needs. We also have hiking poles available for those who require them and can discuss other accessible gear - please feel free to reach out to College Programming and Orientation at if you have any concerns around accessibility!

POP Base Camp Trip

POP Base Camp takes place at an established camp located about two hours south of the city. During the program, small groups of incoming first year students will be paired with upper-class student leaders who will lead them through outdoor skill development, different forms of outdoor recreation, and preparation for the first year at UChicago and beyond. Students will have access to washrooms, a kitchen, and have the choice of sleeping in tents or cabins. 

    The Phoenix Outdoor Program (POP) is designed to introduce new students to the UChicago community and to develop outdoor skills through wilderness exploration. In order to do so, we must take steps to ensure the health and well-being of all participants. In order to do so, we must ensure all participants are able to successfully meet the demands of camping in an outdoor environment where outside assistance is not immediately available. 

    All POP Base Camp participants must meet the following Essential Eligibility Criteria:

    Safety and Judgment

    Each participant must be able to…

    • Recall and understand hazards and risks previously explained by group leaders or support staff.
    • Warn other participants and/or leaders about impending dangers.
    • Effectively signal or notify group leaders or other POP participants of personal distress, injury, or need for assistance.
    • Understand and follow the direction given by others to avoid hazards and/or manage risks, including in an emergency and/or under stress.
    • Be able to stay alert and to focus attention for up to several hours at a time while traveling in wilderness terrain, being taught by group leaders, or receiving instructions.
    • If taking prescription medications, maintain proper dosage by self-administering without assistance from group leaders or others (except possibly in emergency situations).

    Leadership and Trip Behavior

    Each participant must…

    • Work effectively as a member of a team despite potentially challenging conditions. You will be living closely with your tent partners and with all members of your group in close quarters. There may be limited personal time. POP will require problem solving on an interpersonal or group level as well as a willingness to accept differences.
    • Contribute to a safe learning environment—no verbal or physical abuse will be tolerated.
    • Be able to willingly and equally share responsibility with your group in daily camp chores. Each participant may not do an equal share each day, but over a period of several days each participants should do a proportionate share.
    • Effectively communicate ideas and concerns on an individual and group level.
    • Learn and then practice Leave No Trace camping and travel techniques.

    Outdoor Skills

    Each participant must…

    • Remain adequately hydrated, fed, and properly dressed so as to remain generally healthy and strive to protect themselves from environmental injuries such as hypothermia, heat illness, or sunburn.
    • Be able to move about the campsite in order to participate in group activities, attend to toileting needs, and contribute to camping tasks as necessary.
    • Live in a sometimes physically demanding, wilderness environment for the five days of the POP trip. Conditions of this environment may vary from 40 to 90 degrees and may include, but not be limited to, rain, thunderstorms or hail, uninterrupted sun and/or wind.
    • Be able to travel over diverse terrains or alert your leaders if you are unable to do so. 

    Open the packing list below for a list of items all participants need for their POP Base Camp trip. At the end of the gear list, there is helpful information about why you need certain pieces of gear and any additional guidelines, as well as information on how to obtain the gear you need.

    If you have any questions around what type of gear we're asking you to bring, just ask! You can contact College Programming and Orientation at

    • POP Base Camp Packing List (will be released at a later date)
    • Request to Borrow Gear (will be released at a later date)



    Participants will engage in small group discussions, go on hikes, and participate in skill building sessions led by the POP Rangers. Participants will learn about Leave No Trace principles, how to set up a camp, cooking in the outdoors, and more. Most importantly, students will have a chance to bond with fellow first years and upper-class leaders in a small group setting, as well as learn more about UChicago and feel better prepared for Orientation and the year ahead.

    Absolutely! Participants will have a variety of different experience levels and we will be covering all the skills you need to know to have a great camping experience. There will also be gear available to borrow, free of charge, so you don't have to worry about getting gear in case it's not an activity you want to pursue long-term.

    We have plenty of camping gear for you to borrow, but we do not have extra shoes, boots, or other clothing. For all those accepted into the program, we will be sending out a gear request form over the summer.

    Here are some ideas on where to get clothing items listed on the gear checklist:

    • Borrow from friends and family!
    • Army Navy Stores
    • Goodwill, The Salvation Army Store
      • Fleece and wool options can often be found as well as nylon or synthetic (non-cotton) running pants
    • Sierra Trading Post
    • Uncle Dan’s
    • REI – choose the outlet link for clearance

    If you are still having trouble or concerns about getting the gear you need, reach out to College Programming and Orientation.

    You may still apply without your CNetID. However, you should ensure that you claim your CNet ID submit your UChicago Card ID photo before you come to campus for POP. You will receive information on both of these processes over the summer.

    Yes. Participants will be asked to indicate specific dietary requirements or any food allergies on the program acceptance form, but we have accomodated a wide variety of dietary restrictions and allergies. If you have specific concerns about this aspect of the trip, please contact College Programming and Orientation.