Immersion Semester Program

Spend a semester in the wilderness developing outdoor, leadership, and risk management skills.

The Mountains are Calling

Shake up your approach to learning and spend your spring semester outside of the classroom developing your outdoor, leadership, and risk management skills. Our educational philosophy employs adventure pursuits - like backpacking, rock climbing, and whitewater rafting - to engage you in topics ranging from wilderness philosophy to wilderness ethics, wilderness leadership to risk management, and wilderness medicine to wilderness literacy.

The skills that you develop through the Immersion Semester Program will help enhance your leadership, judgement, decision-making, and communication skills. These are important characteristics for all students to develop prior to graduation, regardless of your ultimate career pathway. The Immersion Semester Program is therefore open to all majors. This is not guide training or high-risk adventure for the sake of high-risk adventure. The skills you will gain are intended to prepare you either as a future professional outdoor leader or to be easily transferable for application in an industry of choice. We are committed to developing effective outdoor leaders, educators, and compassionate citizens.

Take Your Skills to the Next Level

The Immersion experience involves traveling through mountainous terrain; climbing steep rock faces; exploring canyons; and navigating rivers. This dynamic classroom provides not only an opportunity to explore and learn about our surroundings; the beauty and the risks; their needs and their possibilities; but also the perfect experiential medium to, for example, examine social, philosophical, and historical forces that influence recreational land use ethics. The ability to survey literary works which inspired writers, poets, artists, and scholars of the wilderness movement among and within the features and sources of their inspiration. The opportunity, space, and perspective to focus on one’s relationship with the natural environment and the effect humans have on wilderness. You will intimately examine an organizational model for outdoor programming, supervision and risk management practices, and gain hands-on experience with trip planning, packing, leading, and evaluation.

Watch and listen to the benefits of participating in the Immersion Semester Program:

Application Process

The Immersion Semester Program is open to all students, however spots are limited. Priority is given to Outdoor Adventure Leadership majors and Outdoor Pursuits minors who submit application materials on time. All students must complete the Immersion Semester Program application and forms.

Once accepted, you will register for 18 credits in the following courses:

  • RLS 18005 Select Topic in Rescue 
  • RLS 21600 Outdoor Adventure Skills
  • RLS 22000 The Wilderness Experience
  • RLS 22300 Wilderness Literacy 
  • RLS 37000 Wilderness Land Use Ethics 
  • RLS 42100 Wilderness Expedition Leadership 


Patrick Lewis
G42 Hill Center
Ithaca College
953 Danby Road
Ithaca, NY 14850