The University of Montana Outdoor Program at Campus Recreation and the Wilderness Institute, which is part of the W.A. Franke College of Forestry and Conservation, collaboratively sponsor the Freshman Wilderness Experience program, better known as FWE. The partnership began in 2013, and each year the participation grows in enthusiasm and numbers.

The Outdoor Program offers trips and classes for credit and non-credit opportunities in rock climbing, kayaking, canoeing, backpacking, backcountry ski camping, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and hiking locally, nationally and internationally. The Wilderness Institute offers integrated, interdisciplinary and experiential wilderness education to UM students and wilderness stewards around the globe.

FWE trains student leaders to guide freshman student groups on four-day wilderness adventure trips. These trips are a part of UM’s Orientation program, and they are open to all incoming freshman of all levels. Many participants have never camped before or been on a multi-day wilderness experience, while others have. Regardless, it is a great way to connect with other incoming freshman, upperclassmen and the beauty that Montana wilderness has to offer.

The program allows 10+ groups (about 10 students per group) of freshman, each led by two or three trained student leaders, to spend four days and three nights in wilderness areas around the region. The trip types include a canoe trip on the Missouri River and backpacking trips around western Montana and northern Idaho.