What are Scrambles?

The Scrambles program is one of the oldest wilderness orientation programs in the nation. These multi-day adventures give first-year students the opportunity to start college by pushing their boundaries, meeting new people and exploring the beautiful Pacific Northwest. The trips are led by current Whitman students involved in the Outdoor Program. For 2019, the Outdoor Program is sponsoring 18 Scrambles designed to introduce new students to current students while experiencing the fun, non-academic side of college life.

Every student plays an important part in the success of their Scramble. Participants are expected to transport their own gear and share in all trip responsibilities. A positive attitude and good physical condition are important. You will be sleeping outdoors and may be in a gender-inclusive tent group. You are expected to take care of yourself in weather conditions that can sometimes be unpleasant, and you will be involved with setting up and taking down camp, cooking and cleaning, and other group tasks. Your Scramble group will practice Leave No Trace techniques to protect the beautiful wilderness areas of the Northwest.

Expect the unexpected, and be prepared to be flexible. Weather, trail conditions and other things may not be what you anticipate. Locations are subject to change due to unforeseen circumstances such as wildfires, road closures or access issues. Humor, a good attitude, hard work and tolerance for adversity will help you tackle these challenges should they arise. 

Learn more about this year's trips by exploring the buttons below. 

Transportation, food and group gear are all included as part of the trip. Participants with food allergies or restrictions are highly encouraged to work directly with the rations manager and their trip leaders to ensure their dietary needs are met. Bringing a few of your favorite special food items is also possible and may increase your comfort. 

Group gear includes: stoves, tents, cooking gear and all water-specific apparel and equipment. Please note that group gear items do not need to be reserved ahead of time. Personal gear is not included in the cost of the trip. These items include: sleeping bag, sleeping pad, fleece pants/jacket, rain pants/jacket, gaiters and backpacks.

After you are placed in a trip, you can use the Compass portal to access trip logistics information, including a detailed packing list along with a rental reservation form. If you need to rent items from the Outdoor Program Rental Shop, please call the Rental Shop at 509-527-5965. Scrambles participants must submit their equipment rental reservations at least two weeks before the start of their trip. Equipment availability is not guaranteed. The Rental Shop also stocks a variety of high-quality retail merchandise and a list of items sold will be included in your info packet as well. For information, call the Rental Shop at 509-527-5965.

Unless otherwise noted, Scrambles are geared toward beginners with little or no experience in the outdoor activity of the trip. Some of the trips are more rigorous, while others are more relaxed. If you select a trip that corresponds with your fitness level, you should have an enjoyable time, but be sure to check the trip descriptions for more details and specific requirements. Scrambles are led by experienced trip leaders under the guidance of the Whitman Outdoor Program.


  • Hiking mostly on well-worn trails.
  • Mileage covered hiking is generally lower and at a slower pace.
  • Backpackers are responsible for carrying a heavy pack.
  • Climbers are car camping and have the opportunity to top rope climb grades 5.5-5.11 based on interest.
  • Harder climbing is challenge by choice.


  • Some off-trail hiking over uneven terrain is not uncommon.
  • Backpackers are responsible for carrying a heavy pack.
  • Mileage covered hiking is generally longer.
  • Boaters must be swimmers and comfortable around water.
  • Whitewater boaters must be strong swimmers.
  • Waves, wind and weather are variable and could increase difficulty.


  • Considerable off-trail hiking over obstacles such as boulders, talus, slippery surfaces or fallen trees.
  • Longer mileage days hiking and paddling.
  • Backpackers are responsible for carrying a heavy pack.
  • Boaters must be swimmers and comfortable around water.
  • Whitewater boaters must be strong swimmers.
  • Waves, wind, and weather are variable and could increase difficulty.

The Outdoor Program offers scholarships to students receiving significant need-based financial aid. Scholarships will cover up to 50% of the Scramble cost, depending on the student's need-based financial aid. The Outdoor Program will work closely with the Office of Financial Aid and the Dean of Students office to determine eligibility. All students are considered for aid; no additional application is needed. If you need more than 50% assistance for your trip, contact the Dean of Students Office at 509-527-5158.

After the initial trip selection lottery, we will check for your name and level of aid from the financial aid office. You will then be notified if you qualify for financial aid and receive a scholarship before full trip payment is due on July 15. Your scholarship amount will be deducted from the full trip price.