With 14 individual trip types amongst two TREK Programs (Wilderness and Service), it's extremely hard for us to anticipate all the questions that will arise each year regarding the TREK program. Hopefully the following frequently asked questions will answer a majority of your concerns and help you get your bearings in preparing for the TREK experience.

If, after reading the following FAQs, you still find yourself with questions - please don't hesitate to contact us. E-mail is the fastest form of contact as they go directly to the logistical team handling your specific TREK (Service TREK - service.trek@uvm.edu and Wilderness TREK - wildtrek@uvm.edu). If you call our office (802-656-2060) we will do our best to connect you with the resources you need.


Registration & Financial Questions

When is TREK?

Saturday, August 22 – Thursday, August 27, 2020

When is TREK Registration?

Online registration opens in early May and remains open until all trips are full.  For more information about registration please visit our registration page.

How much does TREK cost?

Costs for TREK vary depending on program type. For more information about trips and trip fees, and information on financial support please see our costs page.

Do I pick one trip, or multiple?

You pick ONE TREK trip from our list of Wilderness, Service, or Identity-based TREKs to attend - this is the activity you'll be participating in for the 6-day duration of TREK.  Because trips fill up quickly (and are first-come first serve) we always advise potential participants to have a mental ranking of second and/or third choice trips (if they have them).  That way if your first choice trip is full when you register, you'll be able (and ready) to register for your second or third choice while waitlisting yourself for your first choice.

Who are the TREK Interns?

Most of our TREK Interns participated in TREK when they were first-year students. They are trained leaders who will be with you throughout the TREK experience to serve as your guide, facilitator, mentor, instructor, and friend.

How many other TREK participants will there be?

TREK is a wonderful small group adventure. Group sizes vary from 6-8 participants (called TREKkies) and 2 – 3 TREK Interns. There are about 50 Service TREK participants and 150 Wilderness TREK participants total.

Do Trips Fill Up?

Yes.  The UVM TREK program is a highly sought after experience for first year students and incoming tranfer students, and spaces often fill up within days of registration opening.  If you are interested in the trek program, it's best to be ready to sign-up when registration opens in Early May.  We do maintain waitlists for all trips through August - should the trip your interested in fill up, we recommend you fill out a registration and put yourself on the waitlist for that trip as soon as possible.

Can you add more spaces? Why are there capacities?

Unfortunately we cannot add more spaces to our trips. While we'd love to bring as many participants as possible on TREK, a number of factors go into setting our capacities - including, but not limited to: the amount of gear we have available, the number of trained and experienced leaders we're able to hire, the amount of individuals our service organizations can accommodate, and state park/trail regulations which sets a capacity on the size of a group hiking trails and using state park land.  We want TREK to be a fun and SAFE experience for everyone - including our service and wilderness partners throughout New England; capacities help us achieve that goal.


Arrival & Move-in Questions

When and where do I check in? How does move-in work?

Service TREK Check-in is Saturday, August 22nd from 8:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. in the Dudley H. Davis Center. Upon arrival, you will be greeted by TREK staff who will help you check in and ensure you have all the gear you need. You will be able to pick up your residence hall key and drop off your things before returning to the Davis Center for our Service TREK kick-off. The earlier you arrive, the more time you’ll have to get your things to your residence hall room.

Wilderness TREK Check-in is Saturday, August 22nd from 7 a.m. – 9:00 a.m. at the Dudley H. Davis Center. Look for TREK Interns wearing matching T-shirts directing traffic. Please do NOT arrive earlier than 7 a.m., as the building will not be accessible. We do encourage you to arrive as early as possible to ensure you have ample time to bring things to your residence hall room.

Wilderness TREK check-in procedure requires referencing all paperwork to make sure it is on file, assigning you to your group, and checking out keys to your residence hall room. Gear for your trip will be also be inventoried and checked by TREK Interns at this time.

The Wilderness TREK check-in process takes roughly 30 minutes. To make this process run smoothly, we have provided a detailed list of the equipment you will need for your trip. You MUST HAVE everything on the list. If you have all the appropriate gear when you arrive, check-in will go quickly and smoothly.

PLEASE NOTE: While we appreciate the travel efforts your family is making to come to Vermont early, under no circumstances are students participating in the TREK program able to access their rooms the day before TREK begins.

Parking for drop-off & registration

TREK families are asked to park vehicles in designated parking areas only. Jeffords Parking lot is in close proximity to the Davis Center. You will be able to park your car in that lot while you check in on Saturday. The entrance to the Davis Center that is most visible from this lot will be the entrance you want to use to get to check-in. Anyone requiring overnight parking will need to move their vehicles to the Gutterson Garage off of Spear Street and will need to make arrangements with Transportation and Parking Services to obtain a permit.

IMPORTANT PARKING NOTE: You will not be permitted to leave your car on the oval in front of the east entrance to the Davis Center. This area must be kept clear to allow space for the buses transporting TREK students to line up in front of the building.

What happens if I arrive late?

Prior to Group Departure: When contacted in advance, we are typically able to accommodate families unable to make the check-in deadline on the morning of TREK arrival. We’ll happily work with TREK families to create a plan regarding: Issuing and returning of keys after established move-in hours, Connecting them with other group members, and Opportunities for TREK Interns to help late TREKkies inventory gear and for Wilderness TREKs, receive their portion of group gear and food.

After Group Departure: If a student arrives after the group has departed, it will only be possible for them to still participate in TREK if: locating the group is possible, the timeline for connecting with the group will not negatively impact the experience and/or designated travel timetable, significant inconvenience or endangerment to TREK Interns, staff or other students is not a concern.

In the event that all of these conditions are met, TREK families will assume all responsibility for transporting their student to meet the rest of the group.

Because of travel plans, I need to arrive early. Can I stay on campus on Friday night (August 21st)?

Unfortunately, we are not able to accommodate students who need to come early for TREK. While we appreciate the travel efforts you and your family are making to come to Vermont early, under no circumstances are students participating in TREK able to access their rooms before the day TREK begins.  There are many hotels in the area offering affordable accommodation.  See the list of hotels on the visiting UVM website.   If you are making accomodations to stay at an area hotel by yourself, we encourage you to check with your booking hotel to ensure their policy allows them to check in without an adult present.

How will moving into my room work?

After you check-in and drop off your gear on Saturday, August 22nd, you will receive your residence hall key.  At that time, you will be able to unload belongings into your room or a secure location. We know you'll be eager to unpack and fix your room the way you like it, but it is imperative that you return to the Dudley H. Davis Center for the start of the program (10am for Wilderness TREK, 11am for Service TREK).   When you return from TREK on the 27th, you will have that evening and the whole next day to finished getting things set up the way you like them.  All other first year students will be moving in on the 28th, so you'll actually be ahead of them!

Will I be able to drop my belongings off in my permanent room?

For most attendees, yes - but occasionally due to the summer construction schedule, some students permanents room will not be accessible on the day you check in. If that is the case for you, the Department of Residential Life staff will identify a secure storage area for your belongings until you return from TREK on Thursday, August 27th. At that point you will be able move into your actual room.

Can my family stay longer after check-in and finish moving my stuff into/setting up my room while I go on TREK?

No. For security reasons you will need to turn in your room keys before you leave for TREK. Your family is not allowed to go back to your room or stay in your room.

Should my family come back on Thursday or Friday to help me move in, unpack, and just generally settle in?

It depends.  They certainly do not have to - and a number of families who have to travel long distances opt not to; you'll be well moved in and will have plenty of time on Thursday night and all day Friday to get things set up.  It can be tricky with family coming on Thursday because there is no way to know exactly when you'll be back from your trip. Thursday night, you'll be busy at the TREK Re-entry Barbecue - any parents that wish to return to campus are welcome to attend and can meet you there at 4PM.

What does the first and last day of TREK look like for participants and family?

After checking in, you will be on your own for move-in to your assigned room. TREK Interns will be at the residence halls to assist with move-in and give direction. TREK officially kicks off with a mandatory group introduction at the Davis Center (10am for Wilderness TREK; 11am for Service TREK). We will go through a quick program outline, introduce leader teams then divide into groups. If you are late for this meeting you will leave other TREKKIES waiting just for you - so don't be late!

Groups return from TREK trips in the afternoon on Thursday; there is no set return time as the actual return time is different for each TREK group and depends at where they're at in the completion of their specific trip. After cleaning and returning group gear, you will have time to return to your residence hall to shower and relax. Your room keys will be waiting at the front desk. If you're planning to meet your family after returning from your trip, it would be best to do so at the TREK barbecue in the Davis Center at 4PM. Service TREK groups meet up at 3pm at the Davis Center before heading to the barbecue.

What does the first and last day of TREK look like for participants and family?

After checking in, you will be on your own for move-in to your assigned room. TREK Interns will be at the residence halls to assist with move-in and give direction. TREK officially kicks off with a mandatory group introduction at the Davis Center (10am for Wilderness TREK; 11am for Service TREK). We will go through a quick program outline, introduce leader teams then divide into groups. If you are late for this meeting you will leave other TREKKIES waiting just for you - so don't be late!

Groups return from TREK trips in the afternoon on Thursday; there is no set return time as the actual return time is different for each TREK group and depends at where they're at in the completion of their specific trip. After cleaning and returning group gear, you will have time to return to your residence hall to shower and relax. Your room keys will be waiting at the front desk. If you're planning to meet your family after returning from your trip, it would be best to do so at the TREK barbecue in the Davis Center at 4PM. Service TREK groups meet up at 3pm at the Davis Center before heading to the barbecue.


Health, Safety, & Emergency Questions

Why do I need to submit a medical form? What if I have allergies or other conditions requiring medication or field based treatment?

To ensure your safety, we need to be aware of all medical conditions past and present, specifically those that arise between the time you submit your medical form and the beginning of TREK. If you become ill or are injured leading up to TREK, please call to let us know. Though you may be healthy enough to participate, it may make sense for us to place you on a less demanding or less remote route. We also encourage you to call (802-656-2060) or e-mail your specific trip (service.trek@uvm.edu or wildtrek@uvm.edu) with any concerns regarding, food or dietary restrictions. In order to accommodate food allergies or other dietary restrictions (e.g. vegan, vegetarian) we need to know of them well in advance of your arrival.

For Trekkies currently on medication for psychological conditions (ADD/ADHD, depression etc.), expect to receive a follow-up phone call to assess necessary field accommodations. Remember: No problem is too small to discuss. A small conversation before TREK will avoid potentially larger problems in the field. All medical information is confidential and will be shared only with your leader team.

Because I completed the TREK registration form (which included a thorough medical history), does that mean I don't have to complete the UVM Center for Health and Wellbeing health history form?

No. These are two different office and two different forms for two different purposes.  All incoming students are required to complete the Center for Health and Wellbeing's health form, which can be completed at www.uvm.edu/health.

How physically challenging are TREK programs and what should I do to prepare?

All TREK travel itineraries are designed to be physically challenging but planned with success in mind.  The better shape you are in, the more enjoyable your TREK experience will be. Here are some suggestions for arriving properly prepared for Wilderness TREK.

• Take a walk, jog or bike for thirty minutes a day (starting in June or July).
• Wear your hiking boots around the house or on walks. If you have brand new boots, the chance of getting blisters on the trail is 100%. To prevent this, wear your boots periodically prior to TREK. You and your group mates will definitely appreciate your effort!
• Load your pack with clothes, books or rocks and wear it on hikes. This will allow you to familiarize yourself with your new backpack. Your pack may weigh close to fifty pounds during Wilderness TREK.

If you have specific questions about the difficulty of your specific TREK trip, we encourage you to e-mail your TREK program (service.trek@uvm.edu or wildtrek@uvm.edu) for specifics. These e-mails go directly to the logistics team who are busy setting up your TREK trips - they will have the best understanding of the nature of your specific trip.

What kind of food will I be eating on trek? Are there accommodations that can be made for vegetarians and vegans?

Food is love while on Wilderness TREK! The sample menu below will give you a good idea of what to expect...all food is vegetarian except for pepperoni provided for lunches. If you have food any allergies, are kosher or have other dietary restrictions please call (802-656-2060) us so we can discuss alternatives. The following are representative items that go out with every TREK trip: powdered milk, cocoa, salsa, cheese, tortillas, pasta, sauce, parmesan, trail mix, granola, oatmeal, 7-grain cereal, rice & veggies, chili, macaroni & cheese, bagels, dried fruit, raisins, tang & lemonade powder, hard candy, tuna, pita bread, soup mixes, brown sugar, butter, apples, oranges & pepperoni.

Service TREK groups typically have access to cooking facilities, and usual fare includes pasta, sandwiches and wraps at lunchtime. Many Service TREK groups also stop for ice cream at least once during the week after a volunteer project! Accommodations can be made for TREKkies with particular dietary requirements – please indicate your needs on the medical form.

Why don't you allow smoking?

Even though it is legal for students who are 18, we do not allow students to smoke during TREK.  Statistically, we know that if we send a group of people into the woods and only a few of them smoke, when they come back, more people will be smokers.  We don't want to promote or encourage smoking.  

We do want to provide and promote an environment that is free of pressures, expectations, standards, or norms related to smoking.  Finally, as everyone knows, smoking is not healthy and even second-hand smoke can be dangerous or problematic for others.  In the small space in which you'll share with your fellow students, the smoke can easily become noticeable and irritating - not to mention dangerous for a potentially dry wilderness environment.

What happens if students choose to leave TREK?

There are typically 3 circumstances in which TREKkies leave our program:

• Evacuation due to accident, illness or injury
• A family emergency arises
• Students experiencing significant motivation issues and/or physical challenges ask to leave their group (While this is rarely the case, please be aware of the physical & emotional demands of the TREK program you choose)

In cases of student injury or family emergency, TREK staff will work with families to arrange appropriate treatment and/or transportation home, but families are responsible for all transportation costs. Families of TREK students who leave the field for whatever reason are financially & logistically responsible for creating alternative lodging and eating options for their student. While residence hall rooms may be accessed, there is no residence hall staff supervision or food service available until the final day of TREK. There are no refunds available to students needing to leave TREK, regardless of circumstance.

How can my family/friends contact me during TREK?

In case of emergency, family members can call the Student Life Office (802-656-2060) to send along a message to the TREK student.

Will I be able to shower during my TREK trip?

Wilderness Trekkies will be in a backcountry environment and will not have access to facilities that include showers or baths for the duration of their trip. Because the added weight will be a hinderance we ask that participants do not bring any soap, shampoo, conditioner, or deodorant on these trips. The scent and chemicals can also be detrimental to the wilderness and wildlife around us. For trekkies not wanting to forgo bathing entirely, wet wipes can provide some relief from smell or dirt. This method is commonly known as a “trail shower” and although not the most glorious method can be helpful to many people. If you choose to bring wipes for a “trail shower” make sure to have a plastic zip lock bag to carry out your trash, as all TREK trips practice the principles of ‘Leave no Trace’. Most Wilderness TREK participants, including leaders, will be in the same showerless boat, so do not let this deter you from participating in this program. Being dirty is a part of the experience and we encourage you to embrace the outdoors with your peers for a week of adventure, and fun. Service Trek participants will have access (albeit limited access) to showering/bathing facilities throughout their trek experience.


Packing & Gear Questions

What should I bring?

Depends on what trip you're going on! Check out our hand-dandy Packing Lists to see what you'll need.

What kind of weather can I expect? Do I really need to bring all of the warm clothes on the packing list?

The weather can be harsh in the New England mountains... even in August! YOU REALLY DO NEED all of the gear recommended on our clothing and equipment list!  You can count on a couple of wet, chilly, windy days and nights with temperatures near freezing. Although it is summer, a fleece hat and gloves are required. For those on the water sea kayaking and canoeing, cold air temperatures combined with wind and rain provides perfect hypothermia conditions. Remember: there is no such thing as bad weather, only poorly prepared people!

But really....do I need all of the items on my packing list?

Yes.  We get lots of calls about what gear you 'actually' need - our answer will always be ALL of it.  We're very intentional about creating our packing lists - and do so to ensure you and your TREK crew are able to experience your trip safely and comfortably. 

Why do I have to provide my own personal equipment? Where can I find these items at greatest savings?

Because of the size of the TREK program, and varying nature of each individual TREK trip - our program is unable to provide personal gear for TREKKIES. Shopping via discount wilderness equipment company catalogs online can save a significant amount of time and money. Particularly recommended with price, quality, selection and dependability in mind are local gear outfitters here in Vermont:

Outdoor Gear Exchange: based in Burlington is co-owned by former UVM Outing Club president Mike Donohue '97. Mike and his crew are offering all Wilderness TREK participants a 10% discount on top of their unbeatable closeout prices. In addition, they have designed a special Trek section on their web page (www.gearx.com/uvmtrek) where Trekkies can find packing lists for their specific program and recommendations with prices for each item indicated. The OGE crew can save you money on shipping by packing your order for pick-up when you arrive on the morning of TREK registration!

Other nationwide web-based catalog companies & retailers known for savings and quality include: The Sierra Trading Post, REI, Campmor, and LLBean.

Students who receive TREK financial support are able to rent gear from the UVM Outing Club free of charge and this is arranged as part of the financial support process.

How should I pack my gear?

The better you pack your gear, the more space you will have to fit incidentals and the easier it will be to find things while on expedition. You will be packing differently and using a different packing list for each of the TREK programs. Hiking and Canoeing programs require participants have a backpack with at least a 5,000 cubic inch capacity. Kayaking and Climbing programs require duffel/dry bags and/or daypacks.  Service TREK groups can typically use duffel bags or backpacks. Here are some tips for conserving backpack space:

• If purchasing a new pack, understand the implications of proper fit given your torso dimensions. When able, shop comparatively and test drive packs (when full) in the store.  Talk to sales people about the intended use of your pack and listen carefully to recommendations. A good pack is a considerable investment and will be part of your life for years to come whether used in the woods or while traveling.
• Line the stuff sack for your sleeping bag with one of your plastic bags. Now stuff your sleeping bag in the garbage bag and barrel lock the stuff sack. This will help to keep your bag dry in damp and rainy weather.
• If you have an internal frame pack, put your sleeping bag in the bottom. If you have an external frame pack, you will likely need to strap your sleeping bag outside (under the pack compartment, strapped to the metal frame). Waterproof pack covers aren't mandatory but are nice in wet weather!
• After packing your sleeping bag, line the inside of your pack with a heavy-duty garbage bag or pack liner. If you roll your clothes or simply stuff them when packing, you will be able to fit more in!
• Pack personal items, eating utensils and other necessities toward the top of your pack. If you have outside pockets, using them will help keep you organized!
• Water bottles should be packed in an easily accessible location. If you are allergic to bees or use an inhaler, please keep your medication in an easily accessible location.

But I probably don't need everything on my packing list...right?

Wrong. You need everything on your packing list! We'll be checking packs when you check-in, if you're missing things we might send you out to get it before letting you go on your trip.

Can I have a cell phone during TREK?

The use of cell phones during TREK causes significant problems in group dynamics, the group’s ability to achieve tasks and goals, and individual students’ abilities to focus. It distracts students from the group and prevents them from being fully present in the TREK experience. Thus, we strongly recommend that students do not bring cell phones on Service TREK, and do not allow students to bring cell phones on Wilderness TREK. We know that this may be difficult, but wish to encourage you to fully immerse yourself in the TREK experience. There'll likely not be a place to charge them out in the wild anyway!

We understand that some family members may want to have contact with their student during TREK. If an emergency arises, TREK Interns will have cell phones to use to call for help. If family members need to get in touch with their student, they can call the Student Life Office (802-656-2060). The TREK Staff will be able to contact the leaders of that student’s trip and relay the message, or make arrangements in the event of an emergency. Note: if your student is on Service TREK and chooses to bring their cell phone, these official channels should still be used to contact the student in case of an emergency. It is important that the TREK Interns and staff be involved in conversations of this nature to best support the student.

We know that it might be hard to unplug for the week, but it’s a big part of what makes TREK such a unique and powerful experience!

Will I need money during the week?

Strictly speaking, no, you will not need any money.  The cost of the program covers everything: housing, group supplies, food, snacks, and beverages.  There may be a rare occasion however, when you will have an unforeseen problem or issue that requires you to buy something you weren't planning.  TREK Interns have basic "emergency" supplies like extra anti-itching cream for bug bites and extra feminine hygiene products, but they do not have enough for a week supply for individual students.  If a Service TREK student needs something along this line, a TREK leader will take them to the store to buy what they need. 

Will you provide us with a bike for Mountain Biking TREK?

Mountain Biking TREK participants will either need to bring their own Mountain bike or they can rent them for an additional fee of $120. 

Hi Friend!
Contact Us

For more information about the TREK Programs, Costs, and financial aid options, please contact us:

UVM Department of Student Life
590 Main Street, Room 310
Burlington VT 05405
(802) 656-2060

TREK Questions: