Begin your Western experience with an outdoor adventure

COVID-19 Update:

WBO 2020 has made program modifications to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our staff and future participants. We remain optimistic that we will be able to run a safe and successful WBO with these modifications. However, we remain attentive to changing conditions, and are prepared to offer full refunds in the event that WBO is canceled due to the COVID-19 situation. If you have specific questions, feel free to contact

Updated 2020 Wilderness Based Orientation (WBO) Information:

Wilderness Based Orientation (WBO) is a unique opportunity for you to meet and make meaningful connections with other incoming students while learning new outdoor skillsets that will shape your recreational experiences during your time at Western and beyond.

WBO will take place from Friday, August 7 – Tuesday, August 11, 2020. This year, participants will have the opportunity to try a variety of different outdoor activities in the Gunnison Valley. These five activities include White Water Rafting, Sea Kayaking, Rock Climbing, Mountain Biking, and Hiking and Stand Up Paddle Boarding.

Students will sleep in the residence halls each night and spend their days trying out the different recreational activities listed above. WBO will also provide three meals per day for participants for the week. We will be able to accommodate all dietary restrictions.

In WBO, you will be part of a group discovering what the great outdoors and the Colorado backcountry have to offer. WBO is led by qualified student instructors who will give you instruction and encouragement for both the adventurous activities you will be introduced to and your upcoming college experience. This is an opportunity to step into leadership roles within your peer groups and to collectively challenge yourself in new areas based around these outdoor activities.

WBO is open for all students to apply, however we only have spots available for 32 students in 2020. This will ensure that we keep our group ratios within the maximum amount approved by permit authorities, Gunnison County, and Western Colorado University.

Registration opens July 1, 2020 at 10 a.m. MST. Students must be registered for classes before they can register for WBO. Registration is set up on a “first come, first serve” basis and spots are limited, meaning they will fill-up fast. We will have a waitlist for those who do not get one of the initial spots.

The course fee will be $550 and full payment is required at the time of registration to reserve a spot for WBO. This fee becomes non-refundable after July 13, 2020.

Students successfully registered for WBO will have the opportunity to move in on Thursday, August 6, 2020 starting at 1 p.m.

If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to reach out to the Wilderness Based Orientation Coordinator, Katelyn Cooper: or 970-943-2290.

How to Register

  1. Log into your MyWestern Account – you will need your student ID and password
  2. Go to the Main Menu<
  3. Select “Wilderness Based Orientation Registration”
  4. Select “Multisport”
  5. Enter in your information and pay the course fee of $550
  6. Once you have completed the registration, you will receive a confirmation email with more detailed information about WBO


Please feel free to contact the WBO office:
970.943.2290 |


PLEASE NOTE: Scholarships associated with academic programs usually have a specific scholarship application form that can easily be obtained by contacting that academic program’s office or visiting that academic program’s web page.

If you have any questions, please contact the Financial Aid office at 970.943.3085 or 800.876.5309.


  • Accepted Western student enrolled in classes in the upcoming semester
  • Registered to participate in Wilderness Based Orientation
  • Registered to attend New Student Orientation
  • Demonstrates financial need
  • Exemplify the values of the Wilderness Based Orientation (WBO) Program


Wilderness Based Orientation (WBO) is intended to enhance student success while transitioning into college. It is meant to engage students in the intensive social, physical, and educational atmosphere of a structured wilderness expedition. During which WBO aims to develop strength and quality of character necessary for colligate success. These qualities include tenacity, honesty, craftsmanship, compassion, intrinsic motivation, and leadership.  Through WBO, we attempt to shape the culture of the freshman class by exposing students to the values held by Western Colorado University.  These values include learning, critical thinking, knowledge, education, leadership, fun, service to others, community, citizenry, environmental stewardship, and healthy lifestyles.

Full and partial scholarships are available to qualified applicants: amount varied

**Application Deadline: July 1st **

Additional Resources

Parents Page

The mission of Wilderness Based Orientation (WBO) is to enhance student success while transitioning into college. We do this by engaging students in the intensive social, physical and educational atmosphere of a structured wilderness expedition.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Any incoming new student, including transfers. WBO is designed to serve as an adventure-based orientation for all new Western students. If you have been admitted to Western for the fall semester, you are welcome to participate in WBO.

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COVID-19 Procedures

Students successfully registered for WBO will receive a required packing list, which includes COVID-19 materials. We will conduct health screenings for participants upon arrival each day – checking temperatures and symptoms each day.

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