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Ignite Outdoors


Ignite Outdoors is a four-day outdoor experience filled with adventure, leadership, learning, and outdoor skill development for all experience levels. With training in navigation, wilderness first aid, risk management, group dynamics, leadership, and technical skills, our leaders are well prepared to provide an enjoyable, learning adventure for students.

The wilderness environment provides many amazing opportunities to learn about how to cope with new challenges both on and off campus. This experience eases the transition to college life. Please note these offerings are only for incoming students (freshmen and transfers).

The $300 charge at registration includes transportation, most outdoor equipment, meals during the program, and outdoor instruction.

2024 Ignite Outdoors Session Dates

  • July 16 – 19
  • July 23 – 26
  • July 23 – 26
  • Aug 6-9

Program Highlights

  • Connect with UTOP student trip leaders
  • Explore East Tennessee’s most beautiful wilderness
  • Spend two days/ one night backpacking in the Smokies
  • Spend two days / two nights in a well maintained campground, taking day trips to raft and hike.


Daily Trip Itineraries

Students will be split into two 6 person groups for our time in the field. Everyone will go rafting as one big group on day one. Group 1 will spend days 2-3 backpacking, and day 4 day hiking/ swimming. Group 2 will spend days 3-4 backpacking, and day 2 day hiking/ swimming.

Below is an itinerary for group 1.

Day 1

  • 8am: Meet on campus at our outdoor center inside TRECS. Get any gear you need from us and meet the other students on the trip.
  • 9:30am: Depart for Big Creek campground in our 12 passenger vans.
  • 11am: Arrive a Big Creek Campground .Get group camp setup.
  • 1:00pm: Depart for our group rafting trip
  • 6pm: arrive back at group camp. Dinner, dishes, fire, debrief the day, and sleep.

Day 2

  • 8am: wakeup, breakfast, prepare for a day hike/swim
  • 11am: depart for a day hike of a few miles. Enjoy a swimming hole. 
  • 5pm: back to camp. Dinner, dishes, fire, debrief the day, and sleep.

Day 3

  • 7am: wakeup, breakfast, sort group gear,
  • 9:am: begin our backpacking trip, heading out to our backcountry campsite. Hike 6-8 miles
  • 5 pm: Arrive at backcountry campsite. Dinner, dishes, fire, debrief the day, and sleep.

Day 4

  • 7am: wakeup, breakfast, breakdown camp,
  • 9:am: begin our hike back to group camp. Hike 6-8 miles
  • 3pm: arrive back at Big Creek group campsite. 
  • 4pm: head back to campus
  • 5pm. Arrive back at UT. Return gear, say goodbyes.
  • 6pm. Depart. See you in the fall!
Register for Ignite Outdoors

Check out our FAQs below or email


Each session has a maximum of 12 students. If the session is full, we encourage students to add their name to the waitlist. We will contact students in waitlist order if a spot should open up.

We provide all technical gear needed, food, instruction, and transportation. You just need your own clothes, or if you have your own modern gear, you are welcome to use it after our trip staff inspect it. We will send out a packing list to every participant with your registration confirmation email.

While at Basecamp, we’ll be sleeping in tents at an established group campground in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. There will be access to bathrooms and showers.

Each student will spend one night in the backcountry as part of the overnight backpacking part of the trip. We’ll still be sleeping in tents under the stars, but without the accommodations (bathroom, etc.) of the group campground.

Yes, you should especially if you are looking to challenge yourself physically and mentally in the outdoors. We’ll spend the first part of each day’s activity teaching you what you need to know before we set off and provide you individual feedback throughout the activity. By the time you finish the trip, you’ll be comfortable in on the water, or trail. While we won’t promise you will love everything, we bet you’ll come close.

Yes. You should be able to swim 25 yards (1 time across a pool) with any stroke and not touch the pool bottom. When on the river, you will be required to wear a personal flotation device (PFD) so swimming in the river should be easier than swimming across a pool without a PFD jacket.

The area that we will be in is warm during the summer and afternoon showers are common. We will paddle and hike in the rain and often it will provide relief from the summer heat. UTOP professional staff will be on-site to enact any emergency procedures if necessary. 

We do not offer pickups from airports or housing before or after your session. However, below are a few hotels options depending on where you are coming in from if you plan to come in the night before, and Ubers/Lyfts are readily available from the airport to campus.

Due to the nature of the Ignite Outdoors program and the necessity for early planning and purchasing of supplies, no refunds are available. If a student has a medical or family emergency and wishes to cancel their Ignite session, documentation will need to be submitted to in order for a refund to be considered.