Skip to main content

Adirondack Experience

Update: This program is being adapted to an online course that will take place in the fall semester.  Stay tuned for changes in the syllabus, activities, and fees.  If you're looking for ways to connect with students before the fall semester, check out the new Geneseo Experience online courses!

Applications accepted until the program is full or July 16.

"The Adirondack Experience was a home run for our daughter.  It totally addressed her anxiety about making friends at college.  Also, the challenging activities were the best of experiential learning and group dynamics.  Thanks to this program, her start at Geneseo was joyful and highly motivated."

2020 Dates:

Thursday, August 20 - Wednesday, August 26

2020 Costs:

$625 - includes housing, transportation, and food from Sunday night to Thursday morning

Watch a video overview of the last 12 years of the Geneseo Adirondack Experience.

Adirondack Hike

  Adirondack Experience

Program Costs

Fees and Room & Board

  • 5 nights lodging at Paul Smith's College.
  • All meals; starting with breakfast on Saturday and ending with lunch on Thursday
  • Some evening activities in Lake Placid (movie night, etc.)
  • Transportation to and from program activities
  • Program activities (like canoeing)
  • Services of Residence Life Program Coordinator and Geneseo faculty

Total Cost

  • $625

Financial Assistance

    We do have financial grants available for students to subsidize the cost of each trip through the Summer Experience Scholarship and Grants Committee.  All required paperwork for participation in a work trip must be submitted with this request.  NOTE: Students are expected to pay for trip fees if they have the resources and the grants will only cover partial funding for a given trip.  Any participant is eligible to apply.  Just fill out the form.  Please contact Meg Reitz ( with any questions. 

    Program Cancellation Policy

    A non-refundable $150 deposit is due by June 30 to guarantee your spot.  The program is organized and planned in such a way that many of the costs are paid ahead of time as a means of guaranteeing housing/food/activities. 

    Your payment in full is due by July 31.

    After July 31, there will be no reimbursement for program costs.


    FYI Griz on Rock



    students on canoe



    S1 View

    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 four-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 their room assignment 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, unless requested for upon applying.

      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 Residence 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 night 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


      Day 1: arrive on campus, move into your halls and rooms for the fall semester

      Day 2: drive to Paul Smith's from Geneseo; move into residence hall; Team building games, campfire, establish itinerary for Adirondack Expedition study, begin journals

      Day 3-4: 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.

      Day 5: drive back to Geneseo, settle into halls; New Student Move-In, Meet your new roommate!

      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...


        Application and Payment

        Applications are accepted on a first come, first served basis.

        There are FOUR steps to your application process:

        1. Please fill out your Adirondack Experience application online.  This google form holds your spot until June 30.
        2. Make your deposit, balance, or full payment here.  The Deposit is due by June 30; it guarantees you a spot on the trip.
        3. Complete and email Medical and Consent forms by July 31 (these will be emailed after we receive your application).
        4. Complete your payment in full by July 31.

        **Steps 1 and 2 must be complete to guarantee your spot on the trip.

        Questions? Please contact the Department of Residence Life via phone at 585-245-5726 or email at

        Frequently Asked Questions
        • Do I need a special backpack? No, a regular backpack will do.   
        • Will I need to bring a sleeping bag? Yes, the college will provide towels and a pillow, but no linens.  You may want to bring an extra towel for swimming on the hike.
        • How much extra money will I need? You do not have to bring extra cash, but you will have the opportunity to purchase souvenirs.
        • Will carpooling be available? With your permission, we will give out student emails or phone numbers based on zip codes to anyone who is interested in carpooling.
        Reflections and Tips from Past Students

        Read past student reflections.

        Helpful packing hints from students who have participated in the past:

        • A change of clothes and shoes for the evening as you may get dirty during the days excursions.
        • A light jacket for on the trails.
        • Don't forget your camera.
        • Bug Spray and sunscreen.
        • Layers!