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Course Description

The Adirondack Experience is our longest-running summer experience program. It began in 2005 and has been providing life-changing and long-lasting friendships and connections for students since its inception.  The five-day program is for first-year students based in the Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York. The program is taught by Professor Griz Caudle, an Adirondack guide and expert in Henry David Thoreau and Ralph Waldo Emerson.  Students stay in residence halls at Paul Smith's College and spend their days hiking, canoeing, and reflecting on their transition to college in nature. Students work on team building skills and critically reflect on who they are and who they want to become as they begin a unique journey at SUNY Geneseo.

Mountain Vista

    Learning Outcomes:

    At the conclusion of this course, students will demonstrate the ability to:

    1. Apply discipline-specific knowledge and skills to place-based learning experiences
    2. Form connections between broad conceptual frameworks and themes (e.g., but not limited to, sustainability, politics and power, economics and social structures) and local contexts
    3. Engage in critical analysis and argumentation in oral discourse and written work
    4. Synthesize multiple content knowledge in engagement with real-world problems and issues
    5. Reflect upon academic experiences, assess changes in learning and outlook over time, and to make personal, professional, and civic plans based on that self-reflection

    Who should apply?

    Prior hiking experience is not necessary. Participants' experience can range from those who had previously hiked for weeks at a time, to students who had never set foot on a trail. Anyone with a moderate level of fitness and an interest in trying something new is encouraged to apply. Enrollment is limited and is on a first-come, first-served basis.


    Students will arrive on Geneseo's campus on Friday and move-in early to the room assigned to them for the fall semester.  On Saturday, all participants will drive together to Paul Smiths, NY and will stay at Paul Smith's College. Rooms are bunk-style at Paul Smith's. Room assignments are single sex. The program fee includes all meals during the program. All housing arrangements will be made for participants and include bedding, towels, and linens.

    Take a look at the beautiful campus where you will stay:

    Paul Smith's College


    Students should arrange their own transportation to Geneseo for move-in.  The Department of Student Life will provide transportation to Paul Smith's College from Geneseo on Saturday.  If you cannot move in early, you are welcome to meet the group at Paul Smith's College no later than 5pm on Saturday, but you must arrange your own transportation to and from Paul Smith's College.  We can help arrange carpooling if that is of interest to you.


    All meals are provided beginning with lunch on Saturday night through lunch on Thursday afternoon.  Students are expected to handle their own meals when they first move in on Friday and then on Thursday night after they return from the mountains. Your fall meal plan will start with the new-student dinner on Friday night.

    Texts & Supplies


    • Each student will read from their journal each day, sharing their thoughts with others
    • A five (5) page paper on "How the Adirondack Experience has challenged my thinking and how it might reflect on my college experience"
    • Participation in five events throughout the fall semester, including a weekend with Professor Caudle, scheduled on the trip


    Friday: arrive on campus, move into your halls and rooms for the fall semester

    Saturday: drive to Paul Smith's from Geneseo; move into residence hall; Team building games, campfire, establish itinerary for Adirondack Expedition study, begin journals

    Sunday - Wednesday: Breakfast at 7:30 am, pick-up for the day's adventure at 9:00 am, Lunch 'in the wild' (provided), dinner at the College and Journal/Readings at 5:30 pm.

    Thursday: drive back to Geneseo, settle into halls

    Friday: New Student Move-In!

    Sample Daily Itinerary:

    Canoe trip in the St. Regis Wilderness Canoe Area: we paddle across quiet lakes and streams and portage to remote areas where the sound of the breeze and the call of a loon is all you hear...

    Capturing thoughts in our journals...climbing a mountain to escape and sense the wonder of mountain vistas...hiking with naturalists at the ADK Visitors Interpretive Center...Swimming in the clear, cold mountain streams...Challenging out sense of adventure in a ropes course...Discovering wildlife habitats, seeking that which can't be seen...


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