First Year Trips




Outdoor Adventures First-Year Trips are peer-led, adventure-based experiences that prepare students for life at UM. Trips offer participants diverse opportunities to meet other first-year students, learn about themselves and connect with UM. First-Year Trips are four (4) day wilderness adventures in groups of 10 participants led by upper-class student trip leaders from Outdoor Adventures.

Pre-Orientation Trips are designed for beginners, no experience is necessary.

Summer 2023 Trips

  • July 22-25
  • July 27-30
  • Aug 1-4

Spend four (4) days exploring the most visited National Park in the US, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Get to know other first-year students and learn from older students how to make the most out of your first year at UM. Enjoy amazing mountain views and spectacular valleys as your trek through the wilderness with your peers.

  • Cost: $450
    • Includes: 
      • Leaders
      • Round trip transportation from TYS
      • Camping gear
      • Backpacking gear
      • Food
  • Packing Lists: See below
  • Travel Information:  Download Travel Information
  • Registration: Register Now
  • Forms: TBD

All First-Year Trips will start and conclude at Knoxville McGhee Tyson Airport. Home - McGhee Tyson Airport ( Staff will be on site the day prior to assist with early arrivals. Staff will also be on site through the day after to assist participants with delays.  We will also distribute the phone number for the professional staff on-call supporting these trips with other pre-trip details this summer.

Trip Start & Arrivals

The trip will start at 2 p.m. and all participants will need to book flights to arrive in Knoxville prior to this time.

Trip Conclusion & Departures

The trip will conclude at 1 p.m. at Knoxville McGhee Tyson Airport.  All flights will need to depart an adequate time after 1:00 pm on the final day of the trip allowing for getting through TSA and to appropriate gates.  We recommend having flights scheduled no earlier than 2 p.m.


There are numerous hotels for overnight stay for those arriving on the day prior to the trip start date or need to stay an additional night after the conclusion of the trip.  The four listed here are the closest to the airport.  The Outdoor Adventures staff will be staying at the La Quinta Inn & Suites Knoxville Airport.

  • Hilton Knoxville Airport - 2001 Alcoa Hwy, Alcoa, TN 37701
  • Tru by Hilton Alcoa Knoxville Airport - 125 Furrow Way, Alcoa, TN 37701
  • La Quinta Inn & Suites Knoxville Airport - 126 Cusick Rd, Alcoa, TN 37701
  • Courtyard Knoxville Airport Alcoa - 141 Furrow Way, Alcoa, TN 37701

Example Itinerary

Day 1

2 p.m.: Arrive at Knoxville McGee Tyson Airport
2 p.m.: Transfer belonging to backpacks and pack group gear into backpacks
3 p.m.: Leave for Great Smoky Mountains National Park
4:30 p.m.: Arrive at camp/trailhead

Day 2 & 3


Day 4

10:30 a.m.: Leave Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Noon: Arrive at Knoxville McGee Tyson Airport
Noon-12:30 p.m.: Unpack from backpacks & repack travel bags
1 p.m.: Head through security at Knoxville McGee Tyson Airport

First Year Trips Gear List

The below list is subject to change in the weeks prior to the trips as specifics are finalized based on weather, group size, and trail conditions. Personal gear is allowed subject to approval from the Outdoor Adventures team. Please communicate with us prior to the arrival of the trip if you plan on bringing your own gear. Outdoor Adventures tents must be used.


Personal Belongings

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  • Clothes

    • 3 synthetic or polyester/nylon shirts for hiking (please no cotton)
    • 2 pairs of pants or shorts made of synthetic materials or polyester/nylon
    • Light weight soft shell jacket made of synthetic materials or polyester/nylon (e.g. fleece) 
    • Additional layer for cooler weather (i.e. lightweight puffy, long sleeve shirts, flannel shirts.)
    • 5 pairs of non-cotton socks (thin wool or synthetic materials)
    • 5 pairs of non-cotton underwear/undergarments
    • Hiking shoes or boots (please be sure to wear them for at least 10 hours prior to the trip)
    • Rain jacket
    • Synthetic, fleece, wool beanie (may also bring a baseball style hat in addition)
    • Travel shoes

  • Travel Clothes

    • Clean set of clothes for departure flight from Knoxville
    • Clothes for traveling to Knoxville
    • Shoes for traveling
      • We recommend something that can also be packed down into the backpack and used as a shoe in camp. This allows your feet to take a break from your hiking shoes in the evenings. This is usually a sandal.

  • Toiletries

    • Unscented, alcohol-based gel hand sanitizer
    • Travel size toothpaste
    • Toothbrush
    • Floss
    • Hairbrush/comb
    • Soap (environmentally friendly) – (e.g. Dr. Bronner’s or Kirk’s Original Bar Soap)
      • There will not be showers on the trail and any bathing will be in streams or lakes.
    • Unscented moist towelettes or baby wipes
    • A menstrual cup (if necessary) or feminine hygiene products and a sealable plastic bag to carry them out.
    • Microfiber towel
    • Bandana or washcloth (can be cotton)

  • Miscellaneous

    • Sunscreen
    • Bug spray
    • Sunglasses
    • Kula cloth
    • Small journal with pencil
    • Baseball hat or visor

  • Camping & Backpacking Gear

    • Backpack (minimum 65 liters)* 
    • Two (2) water bottles 20 ounces or larger*
      • Please no heavy metal water bottles (i.e. HydroFlask, Yeti, etc.)
    • Headlamp*
    • Plate, cup, bowl, spork*
    • Sleeping bag (rated 32-45 degrees F)*
    • Sleeping pad*

  • Outdoor Adventures Provides (in addition to items with * as needed)

    • Four (4) person tents
    • Tent ground trap
    • Stove & fuel
    • Pots & pans
    • Food after trip start through trip conclusion


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For Parents

First-year students will learn and grow in the following areas throughout and after their trips:

  • Time management
  • Social competence
  • Intellectual flexibility
  • Task leadership
  • Emotional control 
  • Active initiative