New Students

Project WILD

 Learn More About Project WILD

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Welcome to Project WILD (Wilderness Initiatives for Learning at Duke)! PWILD was started in 1974 by a group of students who noticed a need at Duke for a program that would improve some of the impersonal and stifling aspects of university life. And here we are, 46 years later still going back to the same forest and maintaining many of the same traditions that have been around since the beginning of the program.

So, what is PWILD? The first couple days take place on campus and involve some acclimation to Duke, getting to know your fellow first-year students, and of course the PWILD staff, who are all seasoned Duke veterans. Once you are split up into crews, the trip can begin! On the trail, participants backpack through the beautiful Pisgah National Forest in the Appalachian Mountains. In addition to the backpacking element, each crew gets a day for rock climbing! You'll hike up mountains, swim through waterfalls, and spend tons of time getting to know your crew of other first-year student like you! During the trip, you will get to know your crew fairly well and will likely form some of your most lasting relationships at Duke (if you can get along with people after no one showers for two weeks then you naturally all end up as friends). 

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Do I have to be an uber-competent and experienced backpacker to participate? NOT AT ALL! Absolutely no backpacking experience is necessary for the trip! You don't even have to have been camping or outside for an extended amount of time before! In fact, we LOVE introducing people to the fun and invaluable experiences that come with backpacking, and, on a wider scale, introducing them to the benefits and beauty of the outdoors. 

Project WILD has a consistent and active community after the pre-orientation trip. We have a service trip in the fall (STEP into the Wild) and an experiential education house course with a spring break trip during the spring semester. While these experiences are already exciting on their own, the most amazing takeaway you'll find is beginning your first year of college with solid friends and a large, established community as a jumping off point for your life at Duke


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2021 Program Directors

Kaela Basmajian and Lucas Dingman

2021 Program Dates

August 9-15, 2021

*All program dates and activities are subject to change due to implications of COVID-19. Please continue to check this page and Duke University's Coronavirus Response website for the most current information.

Questions or Concerns?

If you have any questions, please contact the Office of New Student Programs at or 919-684-3511

Additional Permit Information

Please refer to the below link for the USDA statement regarding P-Wild's permit with Pisgah National Forest.