FYJ FAQs

Got questions about FYJ? We have answers!

Review the frequently asked questions below. We are also avaiable to connect with you via email. 

Locations, Amenities and Activities

Where do you go?

FYJ and Outdoor Programs trips take place all over the Southwest. Trips are primarily in California, but may also be in Utah, Nevada or Arizona, depending on the year and conditions. Check out our trip descriptions page for current locations.

Where do you sleep?

Depends on the trip. We offer three distinct types of journeys – Wilderness Trip Track, Camping Trip Track, and Sleepaway Camp Track. Trip Track includes Wilderness & Camping (sleeping on the ground) and Camp Track which includes staying at a Sleepaway Camp (sleeping in cabins). 

Wilderness Trips trips take place away from vehicles, established campgrounds and typical facilities, sleeping in wilderness areas of public lands. Camping Trips will have access to water, toilets, vans where folks will sleep in tents on established campsites, typically around other visitors. Sleepaway Camp will stay in cabin-style accommodations, with showers, bathrooms, and a bed, and will share a cabin with other participants. 

What do you eat?

Again, it depends on the trip. Cooking and eating together is an important part of your trip, so meals are communal. We’ll consider meal preferences and prioritize allergies and dietary needs for each trip when creating the meal plan. Some trips may eat an occasional meal at a restaurant, but most food is simple and nutritious, made by and with the group. If you or your student has individual dietary needs, let’s talk – we’ll make sure they’re well supported. 

What will you do, and how physically demanding is FYJ?

This also depends on the type of trip. On Wilderness Track trips, folks often spend much of the day hiking along a trail, typically unpaved, carrying a heavy backpack into wilderness areas. These trips may hike as far as 10 miles in a day, including going up or down 2,000 vertical feet or more. Some confidence in physical fitness is recommended.  

On Camping Track trips, there will be plenty of physical activity, often walking on unpaved trails, with light backpacks (like you’d bring to school). These trips also typically feature an activity of some sort – surfing, sea kayaking, canyoneering/rappelling or similar. 

Sleepaway Camp will still have some long days but will typically be walking on relatively flat, typically paved terrain. 

How will I know which trip to go on?

As a part of the FYJ registration, we’ll ask specific questions about your physical abilities, what you’re interested in trying, and what you’d like to avoid. We’ll also reach out to you to chat over the summer, and we’ll place you on a trip where you’ll be appropriately challenged yet supported. 

Health and Safety

Is this dangerous? How do you keep everyone safe?

There is always some risk inherent in travel and doing things outside. Risk management is central to our program and the training we provide our trip leaders. All trips will have one or more Wilderness First Responders (an advanced medical certification), and all leaders have received training on mental health first aid, van driving, judgement and decision making and risk management. All leaders have been through a semester long training process where they’ve spent time in the field in both training and leadership capacities.

Are there Bears?

Wildlife can be present at many trip locations, and while uncommon, bear sightings have occurredHowever, our trip leaders are trained in strategies to keep wildlife at bay and will use proper food storage techniques. Bears aren’t interested in people (they’re typically very scared of humans) but love people food. When food is locked up, they stay away.

What if I haven’t done a trip like this before?

It seems like FYJ could be hard, and maybe scaryWe’re glad you’re here! This program is developed around building community through new, shared experiences. All trips are designed with beginners in mind, and previous experience is not required. That said, trips can be challenging in different ways for different people, which adds to the richness of the experience and the connections that are made along the way. We’re here to support you through challenges.

What will you do, and how physically demanding is FYJ?

This also depends on the type of trip. On wilderness trips, folks often spend much of the day hiking along a trail, typically unpaved, carrying a heavy backpack into wilderness areas. These trips may hike as far as 10 miles in a day, including going up or down 2,000 vertical feet or more. Some confidence in physical fitness is recommended.  

On Camping trips, there will be plenty of physical activity, often walking on unpaved trails, with light backpacks (like you’d bring to school). These trips also typically feature an activity of some sort – surfing, sea kayaking, canyoneering/rappelling or similar. 

Sleepaway Camp will still have some long days but will typically be walking on relatively flat, typically paved terrain. 

Can participants use their phone when on a trip?

Often, yes. Particularly on wilderness-based trips, cell phone reception can be spotty or non-existent, but we’ll have an emergency plan in place for those itineraries, which may include a satellite phone when appropriate. Participants may be asked to limit screen time while on the trip – as the point is to grow connections with others.

Elligibility and Program Costs

Who can attend FYJ?

Any incoming first year or incoming transfer student can attend FYJ. 

Can I participate in FYJ as a student-athlete?

Due to early arrival and schedule conflicts, those student-athletes on the cross country, football, men’s water polo, women’s volleyball, men’s soccer, or women’s soccer teams MAY NOT participate in FYJ.  All other student-athletes are welcome and encouraged to participate.

What does FYJ cost?

Again, it depends. For 2024, it ranges from $495 to $0. As an optional pre-orientation program, FYJ is not part of student tuition and paid for separately. Each student’s trip fee will be based on their financial aid package, (FASFA and SAI ((Student Aid Index)), and qualifying students will automatically receive a full or partial fee waiver, depending on their individual financial situation. No applications or scholarship forms required; we pull that information on your behalf Most students receive a fee waiver of some sort, with many students attending for zero cost. There are specific scholarships available for first-generation students.

What is included in the fee for FYJ?

The FYJ fee includes everything you’ll need during the program, including any gear rentals, food, accommodations, and meals and housing for on campus days before New Student Orientation starts. Each participant will receive their fee information with trip assignments throughout summer (at the latest in July), along with options for additional financial support if needed.

Packing List

What do I pack?

For each trip, you’ll be sent a “packlist” customized for your specific itinerary. The list considers anticipated weather, location and activities. 

Can I borrow stuff? What if I don’t have something?

Many items, particularly outdoor equipment, are available for rent from our shop. The packing list will include instructions on how and what can be reserved.

What if I don’t have the right clothes?

Don’t fret. You’ll be able to rent important specialized items (like a waterproof rain jacket). You won’t need to go spend hundreds of dollars on “outdoor gear,” for most trips a few layers to keep warm and some sturdy walking shoes is all you’ll need. Refer to your packlist, and if you have questions – we’re here to help.

Will my clothes get dirty?

Yes. You’ll be outside, so you won’t want to bring things you want to keep clean.