Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Fall 2016

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors


Environmental Studies

First Advisor

Amanda Carrico

Second Advisor

Dale Miller

Third Advisor

Joe Polman

Fourth Advisor

Patrica Limerick


This paper looks at the impact of adventure and outdoor education on the college experience through a specific focus on a trip conducted by the CU Outdoor Program. The focus is an examination of the positive effects of the incoming student backpacking trips led by the CU Outdoor Program, specifically CU in the Rockies, on participants’ college experiences and life beyond college. This project will look at how this trip impacts participants’ environmental activities and values, adventure activities, and overall college experiences. CU in the Rockies (‘CUIR’) is a seven-day orientation trip that takes place the week before school starts in August for first time freshman or transfer students. The trip is designed to orient students to CU and help the adjustment process between high school and college. The author looks at the themes of student retention, the value of a wilderness setting, and the short-term and long-term positive experiences resulting from the trip; results are found that support the ideas that students who participate in CUIR are more likely to have a positive adjustment to college, perform better in college, and incorporate the outdoors as part of their lives long after their program has ended.