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WAFFYS - Wilderness Adventures for First Year Students
"...physically challenging natural environment based orientation programs emphasizing small group work help first year students adjust to college life." ~Devlin 1996
WAFFYS (Wilderness Adventures For First-Year Students) backpacking expeditions empower incoming students with a positive personal and social transition into college. WAFFYS gives incoming students the opportunity to challenge themselves and grow as individuals through the process of experiential education. WAFFYS trips are structured to require participants as a group to take initiative, make decisions, and be accountable for the results. After teaching the group to competently cook, camp & navigate through the wilderness, our Instructors step back and allow the group to take ownership over their trip and experience the natural consequences of their decisions.
The process of making these decisions as a group helps WAFFYS students become invested in the group’s choices, enhances their decision-making ability and develops meaningful peer relationships that transfer into participants’ first year at UNC. By having positive group interactions, students experience an increase in self-confidence and gain a deeper understanding of themselves and the way they relate to others.
All WAFFYS expeditions begin by teaching fundamental outdoor skills including navigating with a map & compass, technical skills associated with the trip and Leave-No-Trace camping. No previous experience is required to attend these trips. Your Instructors will not “guide” you through the experience. Instead, they will facilitate your group’s development into a self-sufficient, functioning group. You will be given the freedom to explore your own leadership style and experience the consequences of your decisions. Learning to collaborate with a new and diverse group of people in an unfamiliar environment, prepares you to take on similar challenges during your college career. All equipment, food and supplies are provided as part of your trip, you just bring your personal clothing.
To register for a WAFFYS Expedition, click here.
There are 9-10 participants on each trip with five trips offered throughout the summer. You will need to be at the OEC by 5pm on the 1st day of your trip. This will allow you to attend CTOPS.
July 23 - July 29
August 2 - August 8
|August 30 - September 2||4||Wilson Creek||Backpacking||$185|
*Please bring a towel, toiletries, and change of clothes so that you can shower at the end of your trip.
Download the Trip Description.
Frequently Asked Questions
Download our Frequently Asked Questions.
Please note that all Scholarships for 2013 have already been distributed.
Who was Susan Porucznik Cole?
Susan, also known as Sue, was a member of the Carolina Adventures professional staff. Sue first became involved with the Carolina Adventures program as a volunteer challenge course facilitator. With an unwavering enthusiasm to help out and an eagerness to learn as much as possible, Sue soon began to work in the office as well as on the challenge course. Two years after first volunteering, Sue became the first full time Carolina Adventures employee and worked as the Challenge Course Program Coordinator. Feeling the need to further educate herself and to become an even more competent outdoor educator, Sue decided to return to school at UNC-Chapel Hill to get her master’s degree in Recreation and Leisure Studies. For her final research project, Sue interviewed WAFFYS participants to test the theories on a wilderness adventure program. Please read, Beyond the Trail: Wilderness Orientation Programs and Social Adjustment for Incoming Students to learn more about Sue’s discoveries.
In August of 2004, at the age of 30, Susan was tragically killed in a car accident. It is with both joy and sadness that Carolina Adventures will forever remember Sue and all her wonderful contributions. In her memory, and with many generous donations from family, friends, and colleagues, we have set up the Susan Porucznik Cole Scholarship Fund. We hope that this scholarship fund will allow future UNC students to participate in this wonderfully powerful program.
How much is the scholarship?
Half of your registration fee.
Who is eligible?
All first year students interested in participating in the WAFFYS program
How do I apply?
Please note that all scholarships for the 2013 WAFFYs trip have been distributed.
Please fill out the WAFFYS registration form and check that you are interested in the scholarship. Then read the excerpt located on the Goals & Research. Based on your understanding of the paper, write an essay of between 200 – 500 words explaining how you feel the WAFFYS experience might benefit you. Submit the essay with your registration and half of your payment.
When will I know if I’ve been awarded the scholarship?
After reviewing all essays, Carolina Adventures will notify recipients at least two weeks prior to their trip as to whether or not they have been awarded the scholarship.
Do I need to do anything else?
All scholarship recipients will be asked to write a short thank you letter to the Porucznik family and to contribute some time in the upkeep of our memorial garden created in Susan’s memory.
Can I make a donation to the fund?
Yes. If you would like to contribute to the scholarship fund, please make your check out to UNC – CH, and in the memo section of the check write: “Cole Fund” and send it to –
Outdoor Education UNC CB# 3433
Country Club Road
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3433
Goals & Research
The following summary of findings is from a research project conducted by Susan P. Cole using participants from the WAFFYS program. Susan was the Challenge Course Program Coordinator at UNC's Outdoor Education Center and a Master's candidate (December 2003) in the Department of Recreation & Leisure Studies at UNC Chapel Hill. The purpose of this study was to explore the social adjustment process for new students who have participated in a Wilderness Orientation Program.
Download the the summary of findings.