With many individual trip types amongst our TREK Programs, it's hard for us to anticipate all the specific questions that will arise. Hopefully the following frequently asked questions will address a majority of your questions and help you get your bearings while you prepare for your TREK experience.

REGISTRATION & FINANCES

When is TREK?

TREK 2022 starts on Friday, August 19 at 9:00am and ends mid-day on Wednesday, August 24.

How does TREK registration work?

Due to overwhelming interest, TREK uses a lottery system in an effort to keep the registration process as equitable as possible. There will be an open application period for incoming students to enter the registration lottery and rank their preferred trips. Once the application period has closed, students will be selected and matched to trips. If selected, participants must formally accept their spot and pay the registration fee.

Please note that entering the lottery does not guarantee that you will be selected for registration. Those who are not selected will be placed on the TREK Waitlist. 

When is TREK registration?

Online lottery registration will open on April 1 and close on May 8 at 11:59 PM. For more information about registration please visit our registration page.

Will there be any preference given to students who apply earlier in the lottery window?

No – completing your lottery application early in the open enrollment period will not impact or improve your chances of selection. 

I completed my lottery application. When will I be notified if I was selected?

All those who sign up for the lottery by the deadline will be notified of their status (i.e., selected or waitlist) by early June. 

If I’m selected as a participant, does that mean I get my first-choice trip?

No, not necessarily. Depending on your placement once the lottery is run, other selected participants may have already filled all the spots your top-ranked trip. In that case, we will move down your trip rankings until you can be matched with an available spot. Our goal is to match the most people with one of their top 6 trips.

What is the best strategy for ranking trips in my lottery form?

Truly, the best strategy is to rank the trips in the order that you would most want to participate in them! Please only rank trips that you would be willing and excited to go on! 

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 trips?

Within your lottery application, you will be able to rank up to six (6) trips that you would be interested in attending. You can view available trips on our TREK Trips page. Please only rank trips that you are interested in going on. 

Do trips fill up?

Yes. The UVM TREK program is a highly sought-after experience for new UVM students, and spaces typically fill to capacity. However, we do maintain waitlists for all trips through August. 

Can't you add more spaces? Why are there capacities?

Unfortunately, we cannot add more spaces to our trips. We work hard to bring as many participants as possible on TREK each year, but 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. 

 

TRIP EXPERIENCE

Who is TREK for? 

Trek is for incoming First Year Students and Transfer Students, as it is an opportunity to connect with new incoming students with the UVM community. Throughout the academic year all students are encouraged to get involved with our amazing Outdoor Based Clubs, Office of Outdoor Programs, Service Groups, and Office of Civic Engagement as they offer trips and leadership development opportunities.

Who are the TREK Leaders?

Our TREK Leaders are trained student leaders who will be with you throughout the TREK experience. They're here to serve as your guide, facilitator, mentor, instructor, and friend - and help you safely and comfortably navigate the TREK experience. Whether or not you wind up going on TREK - we encourage you to consider becoming a TREK leader later in your UVM career. Applications are available in the Fall Semester.  Learn more about at our TREK Leader page.

How many other TREK participants will there be?

TREK is intentionally a small group adventure. Group sizes vary from 6-10 participants (called TREKkies) and 2 – 3 TREK Leaders. Across all our trips about 300 new students participate in TREK each year.

What kind of food will I be eating? Can accommodations be made?

Food is love while on TREK! The sample menu below will give you a good idea of what to expect...all food is vegetarian with options to add meat on occasion. If you have food any allergies, are kosher or have other dietary restrictions you will be prompted to share them on your registration form. If you would like to talk through options 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, beans, 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, & tuna. 

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

Some TREK trips come in a variety of ‘flavors’: mild, medium or spicy to accommodate a variety of desires for level of physical challenge. We encourage you to read the 'Recommended Abilities' listed for your trip on our TREK Trips page. If you’re nervous about your trip or have specific questions about the difficulty of your specific TREK trip, we encourage you to e-mail the TREK program (trek@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 and can provide you greater detail.

The one blanket recommendation we’ll make is for those going hiking or backpacking: If you’re buying new boots for your trip, be sure to wear them around as much as you can before going on your trip! Wearing fresh pair of boots that haven’t been ‘broken-in’ all day while hiking can cause blisters, ouch!

Will I be able to shower during my TREK trip?

Great Question! Some trips will and some trips won’t. Most folks on a Backcountry trip will not have access to showers, while folks who are on an Adventure-Sport Basecamp or Service Trip likely will have access to showers at their campsites. Affinity Trips differ in that Transfer and Pride are both Backcountry Backpacking Trips and will not have access to showers, while the Mosaic Trip will be camping at a local state park and will have access to showers.

Backcountry Trip participants, including leaders, will be in the same showerless boat, so do not let this deter you from participating in this program. Because the added weight will be a hindrance 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 wildlife around us. For TREKkies not wanting to forgo bathing entirely, wet wipes can provide some relief from smell or dirt. 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. 

 

ARRIVAL, CHECK IN & MOVE-IN

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

Check-In will occur on Friday, August 19th starting at your assigned residence hall. You'll receive detailed instructions about this process via email - but the following is a general overview of what the process looks like:

Move-In begins at approximately 8:30am. Please do NOT arrive earlier than 8:30am, as your residence hall will not be accessible. Upon arrival, you will be greeted by TREK and Residential Life staff who will help you check in and find your room. You will have from the time you check in until 1:00pm to move in to your residence hall. The earlier you arrive, the more time you’ll have to get your things to your residence hall room.

Check-In for trips begin at 1:00pm at the Dudley H. Davis Center. Upon arrival, parents will head over to a welcome reception and info session. TREK staff will help students check in and ensure you have all the gear you need, all paperwork is up to date and on file, and connect you with your TREK group.

The check-in process should take roughly 1 hour. To make this process run smoothly, please reference the detailed packing list for your trip well in advance. You MUST have everything on the list. If you have all the appropriate gear when you arrive, check-in will go quickly and smoothly. 

Parents will have one last opportunity to say goodbye to students before the TREK Kick Off Celebration at 3:00pm. All students must be checked in prior to 3:00pm.

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. The buildings will not be open, you will not have your room key, and there will be no staff present to assist you.

Where do I park for Drop-off & Check-In?

TREK families are asked to park vehicles in designated parking areas only. During move-in, families may park in lots closest to their residence hall. Please refer to the Parking & Transportation Map for more information on residence hall parking.

In addition to residence hall parking, families may use the top level of the Gutterson Parking Garage (adjacent to the Patrick Flynn Gymnasium). UVM shuttles are available to help you get around campus.

IMPORTANT PARKING NOTES: Anyone requiring overnight parking will need to make arrangements with Transportation and Parking Services to obtain a permit.

You will not be permitted to leave your car on the oval in front of the east entrance to the Davis Center OR in the Jeffords Parking Lot during move-in or check-in.

What happens if I arrive late?

Prior to Group Departure: When contacted in advance, we are typically able to accommodate those unable to make the check-in deadline on the day of TREK arrival. We’ll happily work with TREK families to create a plan regarding trip preparations.

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 the timeline for connecting with the group will not negatively impact the experience and/or designated travel timetable, or cause significant inconvenience or endangerment to TREK Interns, staff or other students.

TREK families may be responsible for additional costs of transporting their student to meet the rest of the group and/or housing their student in the event of missing departure. Please note students who are not able to join their TREK trip for any reason will not be eligible to stay in their residence hall until the night of August 24th.

Can I arrive early and stay on campus the night before check-in?

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 accommodations 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 over the age of 21 present.

How will moving into my room work?

Move-In begins at approximately 8:30am. Please do NOT arrive earlier than 8:30am, as your residence hall will not be accessible.

After you check-in with your Building Manager, you will receive your residence hall key. At that time, you will be able to unload belongings into your room. Depending on how early you arrive on check-in day you’ll have more time to set up your room before the official TREK start. Do not worry if you are unable to arrive earlier in the morning, when you return from TREK, you will have plenty of time to complete setting up your room.

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

Likely yes - but occasionally due to the summer construction schedule, some student’s fall assignment 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 Wednesday. At that point you will be able to move into your actual room.

Can my family stay and finish moving my stuff/set 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 Wednesday or Thursday to help me settle in?

It depends. They certainly do not have to - and a number of families who have to travel long distances opt not to. It can be tricky with family coming on Wednesday because there is no way to know exactly when you'll be back from your trip. Wednesday night, orientation will begin for about half of the TREKkies, while other TREKkies will officially begin orientation on Thursday. Either way, TREKkies will likely be eager to spend time with their new friends on campus!

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

You will be on your own for the morning of August 19th. TREK Leaders will be at the residence halls to give direction and answer TREK questions. You’ll have until about 12:30pm to move-in and grab lunch with your family, finish setting up your room, and making sure you have all the things you need for your trip! TREK Check-In opens at 1:00pm. If you are late for this process, you will leave other TREKkies waiting just for you - so don't be late!

After saying goodbye to families, TREKkies will join their groups for introductory activities and games, before having dinner. After dinner TREKkies will “camp” on campus or close by at their basecamp sites on their first night.

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

Groups return from TREK trips in the mid to late morning on Wednesday; there is no set return time as the actual return time is different for each TREK group. After cleaning and returning group gear, you'll be able to grab a to-go lunch, and head back to your residence hall to shower and relax (your room keys will be waiting at the front desk) before starting orientation.

Orientation will either begin on Wednesday or Thursday afternoon. Regardless of your orientation schedule you will have access to your room on Wednesday night and your meal plan will begin when you return from TREK. TREKkies that have a Thursday orientation start will have the option to participate in social activities on Wednesday evening.

Families are welcome to meet their students post TREK, after the closing lunch. Families should be aware of their student’s orientation schedule as some students will have more free time post-TREK than others based on whether they have a Wednesday or Thursday Orientation start. 

 

HEALTH & SAFETY

Why do I need to submit medical forms? 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 and those that may 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 us (trek@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.), and who have disclosed those medications to us upon registering - 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 complete my TREK Medical Information Form after completing my TREK registration, do I still have to complete the UVM Center for Health and Wellbeing health history form?

Yes. We are two different offices with different forms for different purposes.  All incoming students are still required to complete the Center for Health and Wellbeing's health form, which can be completed at uvm.edu/health.

Why don't you allow smoking?

Firstly is for legal reasons. The legal age for consuming alcohol, flammable or non-flammable nicotine and cannabis products in Vermont is 21.

Secondly is for safety reasons. Many of our trips take place in environments where emergency medical services are more difficult to reach. Introducing any mind altering substances onto a trip increases the likelihood of an incident to occur and inhibits the leaders ability to determine the severity of an injury.

Finally is for ensuring healthy community standards on our trips. College is an amazing time of self-discovery. We hope to foster an environment where you are unencumbered by certain social pressures. The only caveat to this policy is for individuals who have an addiction. Starting college and meeting new friends is stressful enough without the added chemical changes to quitting nicotine cold turkey. If you are in need of an accommodation to this policy we invite you to indicate as such on your registration form and we will be in touch with you to make the appropriate arrangements. 

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 a TREK student.

 

PACKING & GEAR QUESTIONS

What should I bring?

Depends on what trip you're going on! Check out our 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 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, canoeing, or rowing, 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!

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 all 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. 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! They also have a great bargin basement to find second-hand clothing and equipment.
  • Other nationwide web-based catalog companies & retailers known for savings and quality include: The Sierra Trading Post, REI, Campmor, and LLBean. There are physical stores of LLBean, Sierra Trading Post, and REI in Downtown Burlington, South Burlington, and Williston respectively.
Limited gear is available to rent for free from UVM. Priority is given to students receiving financial support to attend TREK and on a first come first served basis. If you are not receiving financial support for TREK, you should still request rental equipment, but know there may not be enough.

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. Backpacking programs require participants have a backpack with at least a 65 Liter or 5,000 cubic inch capacity. Kayaking, Canoeing and Gig Rowing programs require dry bags and/or daypacks. Service and Adventure-Sport Basecamp 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 the 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 a Service Trip, and do not allow students to bring cell phones on Affinity, Basecamp, or Backcountry Trips. 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 a Service Trip 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 Leaders have basic "emergency" supplies like extra anti-itch 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 or Basecamp Trip 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 Trip participants will either need to bring their own bike or they can rent them for an additional fee. You'll have the ability to indicate your need to rent (and pay for) a bike during the registration process.

 

Additional Questions?

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. If you call our office (802-656-2060) we will do our best to connect you with the resources you need.

Contact Info

Feel like sending us some snail-mail?

Dept. of Student Life
Dudley H. Davis Center
590 Main Street, Room 310
Burlington, VT 05405

phone: (802) 656-2060
fax: (802) 656-7731
email: trek@uvm.edu

Please Note: Our full-time TREK team is small in size. Please be sure to check that your answer is not already covered in our FAQs prior to contacting us to help ensure we're able to provide support to those who need it.

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