Student Life

Phoenix Outdoor Program

2021 Dates TBA


Program Overview

The Phoenix Outdoor Program (POP) is a backpacking pre-orientation trip for incoming students taking place in National Forests in the Midwest. After two days of orientation, groups of eight first-year students and their two upperclassmen leaders will go backpacking together on a 5 day trip, experiencing all that the great outdoors have to offer and creating lasting bonds in the process. Whether you have never put on a backpacking pack before or you're already comfortable navigating by map and compass through wilderness areas, there is a place for you in POP.

While there are many programs on campus designed to welcome new students to the UChicago community, POP is unique in its setting and in the demands that students must face while carrying everything they need to survive on their backs through the woods. Traveling and cooking meals together, facing and overcoming new challenges as a team, and spending full days outdoors with one another is a strong bonding experience. This outdoor program is a one-of-a-kind chance for students to have experiences that are not possible on campus while also forming small group bonds with their new classmates and upperclass mentors.

Please note: POP will take place in the backcountry - front country washrooms and showers will not be available and all participants will be sleeping in tents for the duration of their hike. Check out the POP Essential Eligibility Criteria page to gain more insight into whether this program is right for you. You can also follow @POP_UChicago on Instagram to get to know the POP Rangers, see photos, and learn more about what the Phoenix Outdoor Program is all about.

Dates: 2021 Dates TBA

Spaces Available: 60

Cost: $500 - POP is a need-blind program and we are committed to ensuring everyone who wants to participate is able to do so. Financial assistance is available for qualifying students and there is gear to borrow, free of charge. There will be a section of the application form where you can request financial aid and gear.

Inclusions: Housing, meals, transportation, camping fees, and any applicable admissions fees are included in the cost of the program. Students will be responsible for incidental/personal expenses as well as transportation to campus prior to the start of the program.

Gear: Students will need all items on the gear checklist, but students do not need to purchase any items that they 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. There will be multiple opportunities to request to borrow gear, the first of which will be on the POP application. 

To apply, please complete our online application. Please note that students may apply for and participate in multiple Pre-Orientation or Summer Experience programs, provided the dates of the program do not overlap.

Backpacking and camping can be an expensive activity, but the Phoenix Outdoor Program is committed to ensuring all students have the ability to participate in this opportunity. In order to assist students with the cost of participating in the program, financial assistance is available to qualifying students. You can request financial assistance as part of your application. POP is a need-blind program, and your request for financial assistance will have no impact on your acceptance to the program. If accepted into the program, you will receive a notice of the financial assistance available to you before you need to make a decision about whether to participate in POP or not.

Students may bring all of their belongings for the academic year with them when they move in for the Phoenix Outdoor Program. Locked storage will be provided for the duration of the program, and all bags stored during the program will be moved for you into your permanent room over the course of the week. 

Find out more about Pre-Orientation housing and luggage storage.