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Wisconsin Basecamp trips are fun, but we know you might have some logistical questions before you commit. See our list of frequently asked questions below and feel free to contact us if you have additional questions.  

What is the difference between Basecamp Trips & Basecamp Madison?

Basecamp Trips are offsite around the state of Wisconsin.  Often it is a remote trip where there is little cell service and you'll get to enjoy being away from it all.  

Basecamp Madison is locally based on campus and around the Madison area.  Discover the urban outdoor adventures available around the city. 

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. 

Can I combine SOAR and Basecamp?

Yes, you can!  Sign up before April 17th and email us. We can help you link your preferred SOAR and Basecamp combination.  This is an opportunity for you to get your preferred SOAR date, but only if you are signed up for the Basecamp date that begins the day after your SOAR date ends.

After April 17th, you can link these on your own.  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.

Please email Jill Griffis at jill.griffis@wisc.edu to learn more about this opportunity and to see if it will work for you!

What will happen on my Basecamp backpacking trip?

You'll first meet for orientation at Outdoor UW in Memorial Union.   We spend some time getting to know each other, doing some last minute packing (exploding our packs, as we like to say), and looking at trip details and logistics together.  The first night, groups usually car camp but may head right onto the trail.  Routes vary, but most trips travel around ~15 miles total. The group spends 4 nights backpacking to different backcountry camping spots located on the Ice Age Trail in Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest 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.  We spend some time getting to know each other, doing some last minute packing, and looking at trip details and logistics together.  From there, we head out on the road to get to the river.  We typically will "put in" in Sauk City, WI. 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.  One of the best parts about this trip, is the food and getting to swim. 

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.

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 2 leaders per trip. Canoeing and Rock Climbing* trips each have a maximum of 11 participants and 2 leaders.

*Our full time staff member attends and supervises the climbing site during the two days of rock climbing.

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

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. You will not need to bring a tent or other camping gear. Backpacks are provided for all backpacking trips and large, waterproof boat/dry bags are provided for all canoe trips. 

But generally, you'll need basic clothing and personal items (change of clothes, toiletries, sleeping bag, shoes, etc.). If you do not have a sleeping bag, equipment rentals are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Please call Outdoor UW at (608) 260-1630 weekdays from 12-6pm as soon as possible to reserve and pay for your equipment rentals. Available equipment/pricing per trip includes: 

  • Sleeping Bags: $13
  • Sleeping pads: $7
  • Hiking poles: $7

How much does Basecamp cost? What is included?

All offsite trips are $450.  Madison trips are $350. 

Included in this cost, we provide group transportation, 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 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.

How can I get more information?

Contact us or give us a call at (608) 262-1630 to reach the Outdoor UW Service Desk at the Wisconsin Union.