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FAQs

Wisconsin Basecamp trips are fun but there are lots of logistical questions you might have before you are able to commit to one. See our list of frequently asked questions below and feel free to contact us if you have additional questions.  

What will happen on my Basecamp backpacking trip?

You'll first meet for orientation at Outdoor UW in Memorial Union and then drive up to the Porcupine Mountains. The first night, groups usually car camp and hike to some beautiful waterfalls and watch the sunset on Lake Superior. The next day the group starts the backpack. Routes vary, but most trips travel around ~15 miles total. The group spends 3 days backpacking to different backcountry camping spots next to streams and lakes surrounded by amazing forests.

The group will be responsible for traveling as a group, camp set-up and take down, helping with meal preparation, and more. At night, the student leaders will help facilitate discussions and activities regarding the transition to college. For your comfort, we ask that you bring only what you need. You will be asked to help carry group gear such as: food, tents, pots, etc. The last day is an early rise and drive back to Madison by 5pm.

Meet your Basecamp leaders and see what previous Basecampers have to say about their experience. 

What will happen on my Basecamp canoeing trip?

You'll first meet for orientation at Outdoor UW in Memorial Union and theafter a quick shuttle ride, you will put in at Sauk where we will get our canoes (possibly a kayak) from the outfitter. Your leaders will teach you how to pack a canoe and basic canoe paddling strokes. Then you will start your ~60 mile journey. Traveling together, the group will make decisions regarding when to stop and play, where to camp, and how far to travel.

Camping is typically done on the river's edge or on large sand islands. The group works together to set-up and take down camp, make meals together, make campfires, etc. Most evenings are spent around a campfire with the student leaders facilitating discussions and activities regarding the transition to college.

On the fourth day, the group is transported to Devils Lake State Park to hike, swim, or explore the area and reflect on your Basecamp experience while preparing for your start to college.

Meet your Basecamp leaders and see what previous Basecampers have to say about their experience. 

Who leads the Basecamp trips? What are their qualifications?

Trips are led by two UW-Madison students in good academic standing who are trained in Wilderness First Aid, group dynamics, and outdoor skills. Meet your Basecamp leaders and see what previous Basecampers have to say about their experience. 

How many people will be on each trip?

Backpacking has a maximum of 9 participants and 3 leaders per trip. Canoeing has a maximum of 11 participants and 3 leaders.

What if I haven't camped, backpacked, or canoed?

No problem! We will teach you the basics and our trips are focused on group success. We ask that you come with an open mind to try new things and work hard. Your leader will call or text you the week prior to your trip. Let you leader know you are new to the activity. They will take some extra time to make sure to answer any questions about gear, logistics, or tips for success.

Meet your Basecamp leaders and see what previous Basecampers have to say about their experience. 

What equipment do I need to go on a Wisconsin Basecamp trip?

A list of required and suggested gear will be provided to trip participants with signup confirmation. But generally, you'll need basic clothing and personal items (change of clothes, toiletries, sleeping bag, shoes, etc.). You will NOT need to bring a tent or other camping gear except for your own backpack and boots for backpacking trips.

If you do not have a backpack or sleeping bag, equipment rentals are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Please call Outdoor UW at (608) 260-1630 between noon and 7pm as soon as possible to reserve and pay for your equipment rentals. Available equipment/pricing per trip includes: 

  • Backpacks: $13
  • Large waterproof boat bags: $13
  • Sleeping Bags: $7
  • Sleeping pads: $7
  • Hiking poles: $7 

How much does Basecamp cost? What is included?

The cost of a Basecamp trip is $450 per person. Included in this cost, we provide group transportation, two or three trained student leaders, food, group gear, and administrative support for each trip.

Where do Basecamp trips depart and return to?

All Basecamp trips depart and return from the Memorial Union (800 Langdon St., Madison). After registering you will be mailed directions and a map. Participants are responsible for getting themselves to and from this location. We can provide assistance/information if you need it. Contact the office at (608) 262-1630 for additional assistance/information. 

Can I combine SOAR and Basecamp?

Yes, you can! Just make sure your SOAR date ends the day before your Basecamp trip begins. It does not work to have them overlap. Some participants will choose to do SOAR and Basecamp independently—either way works.

Can I park a car on campus while I am on Basecamp?

Parking is very limited on campus and quite expensive. If you need to bring a car, the nearest parking is in Helen C. White (right across the street) or Lake Street Parking Garage, located only a few blocks away. Parking in either ramp costs approximately $14 per day. 

What if I need to fly or take the bus to get to Madison?

From the Madison Airport there are a number of cab services that can take you to your hotel. The Van Galder Bus connects several cities to Madison and stops an easy three-minute walk from Memorial Union.

What if I need lodging in Madison prior to or right after my Basecamp trip?

If you are attending SOAR directly before your Basecamp trip (recommended order), overnight lodging can be arranged through UW Housing (call (608) 262-5576). Please make sure your SOAR experience ends the day before your Basecamp trip starts. Other lodging options include Union South Hotel or several private nearby hotels. Learn more about accommodations on the SOAR website.

Will I be able to contact my family or can my family contact me on the trip?

We ask that participants leave their electronics at home (or at Outdoor UW). This is a fun time to connect with new friends and not have the distractions of home.

I lost my forms, where can I get more? Where and when do I need to send them?

Download a new Backpacking Form or Canoeing Form.

All forms need to be completed one month prior to your trip start date. Please either scan and email to julie.brown@wisc.edu or mail it to:
Wisconsin Basecamp
800 Langdon Street
Madison, WI 53706-149

How can I get more information?

Call (608) 262-1630 to reach the Outdoor UW Service Desk at the Wisconsin Union. Staff will be able to answer general questions over the phone. If you have specific questions, you may email Julie Brown, Basecamp Manager, at julie.brown@wisc.edu.