New Students

Project WILD

Learn More About Project WILD

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, 42 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, a low ropes course, and getting to know your fellow first-year students and PWILD staff. 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! Over these 10 days, you will get to know your crew fairly well, and will likely form some of your most lasting relationships at Duke on the trip (if you can get along with people after no one showers for two weeks then you naturally all end up as friends).

So I have to be an uber-competent and experienced backpacker right? 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.

2019 Program Directors

Elizabeth Shulman and Connor Johnston

2019 Program Dates

August 7-19

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.

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