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Adventure Leadership

Our trips can take you anywhere: dogsledding in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, spelunking in North Carolina, backpacking the Grand Canyon, paddling the Huron River, and more. Whether you want to take off for a couple of hours, a day or a week, let us handle the details—like food, transportation, logistics, trip leaders, and outdoor equipment—while you take in the great outdoors.

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Find Your Trip

Adventure Leadership trips are open to U‑M students, faculty, staff, and the general public. If this is your first trip, please note, our trips are beginner friendly.

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Fall Trip Schedule
currently being planned

Please find below a list of trips we facilitated during the Fall 2021 semester.

  • Day Hike – Pickney Recreation Area
  • Hike Dark Sky Park
  • Enjoy Fall Colors and the Dark Sky Park
  • Backpack Pictured Rocks

Call 734-764-3967 or email us advleadtrips@umich.edu with questions

Winter Trip Schedule
currently being planned

Please find below a list of trips we facilitated during the Winter 2022 semester.

  • Dogsled and Cross County Ski
  • Luge and Cross County Ski
  • Ice Climb – Peabody Ice Climbing Club
  • Snowshoe, Cross Country Ski Dark Sky Park
  • Spring Break: Dog Sled and Cross County Ski
  • Spring Break: Southern Adventure Hike

Call 734-764-3967 or email us advleadtrips@umich.edu with questions

First Ascent

First-year and sophomore students are invited to register for these trips, from simple day trips around campus, to weekend outings to even longer adventures farther afield! Make friends with other first-year or sophomore students while participating in experiential, adventure-based activities. All programs are led by upper-level undergraduate or graduate students involved with the Adventure Leadership program. All gear is provided. Activities will include biking, kayaking, hiking, and more. No experience necessary! For questions, email advleadtrips@umich.edu or call (734) 764-3967.

Look for First Ascent trips coming Summer 2022!

Outdoor Skills for Groups

Do you have an employee group, department or organization that’s looking to get outside and learn a new skill?  Whether you’re looking to relax around a campfire with s’mores or work up a sweat cross country skiing, we’re certain our unique activities will help you reconnect and engage together.

Outdoor skills activities are free to Student Life units at the University of Michigan. 

Set Up Your Group

Email advleadtrips@umich.edu with the outdoor skill(s) you’re interested in, a preferred date, and your group size.

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Adaptive Slacklining

Is it a sport? An art? A balancing act? Let Adventure Leadership staff introduce your group to slacklining –  a fun and safely socially distant outdoor activity! Become aware of your body and mind while trying something new, and discover a new way to hang around with friends outside.

Available Locations

  • Grove outside of the CCRB
  • An alternative wooded location
Backpacking Basics

Backpacking is the perfect way to immerse yourself in nature for a weekend or longer. Come join us for a hands-on session of the basics: tents and shelter, clothing, cooking, water treatment, navigating, first aid, Leave No Trace principles. Anywhere from one to three hours, depending on how deep and detailed you want to get.

Available Location

  • Adventure Leadership Rental Center
Bike Tours

Options include a bike tour around and through campus to the Nichols Arboretum, where we will hike down to the river then back to our bikes for the return ride. A perfect way to spend a couple hours away from screens, enjoying campus and nature.

For a longer ride we can start the day with a relaxed 45-minute bike ride through campus, past the hospital, along the Huron River and to the Matthaei Botanical Gardens. Almost the entire route is on car-free bike paths, with the final stretch on a newly paved award-winning nature trail. Once there we will enjoy a bag lunch and explore for about an hour with a hike through woods and fields, including trails along Fleming Creek. We will then re-mount our bikes and ride back.

Trip leaders and bikes are included, although you’re welcome to ride your own bike. Please bring a bike, helmet, bike lock (or use one of ours), weather-appropriate clothing, and a small daypack.

All bike tours start at the Adventure Leadership Rental Center.

Bonfire & S’mores

What more do we need to say? We provide fire, graham crackers, chocolate, and marshmallows. You get to find sticks in the woods for roasting. Trip leaders will provide tips on how to create a perfect golden-brown marshmallow, or a completely burnt marshmallow, if you are into that sort of thing.

Available Location

  • Adventure Education Center
Camp Cuisine Exploration

Cooking while camping ranges from minimalist to gourmet. We’ll teach you the basics, including how to use three different camp stoves, and then you’ll get to try your hand at preparing some food. Sessions at the AEC may include cooking over a fire.

Available Locations

  • Adventure Leadership Rental Center
  • Adventure Education Center
Cross Country Ski

If we have snow (at least 4”), we can ski! A basic lesson and try-out on Elbel Field at the Adventure Leadership Rental Center, or a few hours out at the Adventure Education Center (hot chocolate included!). Nothing beats the peacefulness of a snow-covered landscape, and nothing beats Seasonal Affective Disorder like outdoor exercise.

Available Locations

  • Adventure Leadership Rental Center
  • Adventure Education Center
Interpretive Hikes

Let nature tell you a story! Learn about the plants, animals, and other ecological features that make up the Great Lakes region.

Available Locations

  • Adventure Education Center
  • Nichols Arboretum
  • Or an alternative location!
Night Hikes

The best times to take a night hike are during a full moon, when the night world is bathed in ethereal, faint white and grey, or the new moon, when stars are most visible. Join us for a unique walk in the woods and fields of the Nichols Arboretum or the Adventure Education Center. Even if it’s cloudy, walking through the woods at night is a great experience. Headlamps provided. Time frame is generally between 8:30pm and 10:30pm.

Available Locations

  • Adventure Education Center
  • Nichols Arboretum

Take your team building in a new direction by learning to navigate without a GPS unit or cell phones. Discover the parts of a compass, measure your pace, and try triangulation. Once you’ve gotten your bearings, complete a practice course to solidify your skills and work collaboratively with your team to solve a puzzle!

Available Locations

  • Adventure Education Center
  • Nichols Arboretum
Wellness Walks

Engage all of your senses while connecting your body and mind with nature. Allow yourself to break away from daily distractions and pressures to live in the present moment. Join us for an opportunity to practice mindfulness and learn body regulation skills at our beautiful wooded facility at the Adventure Education Center, or any other quiet outdoor location of your group’s choice.

Available Locations

  • Adventure Education Center
  • Nichols Arboretum
  • Or an alternative location!
Wilderness Survival 101

The most important aspect of survival is to be prepared – both with appropriate supplies and the ability to work with your environment in critical situations. Increase your knowledge of fire and shelter building, practice cooperation and team decision-making skills, and expand your capacity for resourcefulness in the outdoors.

Available Locations

  • Adventure Education Center

Available Locations for Outdoor Skills

  • Adventure Leadership Rental Center: Stationed near Elbel field, this location is ideal for a short commute to find a big adventure – and pick up all the gear you need for your excursion!
  • Nichols Arboretum: A prominent and notable campus feature within walking distance of most student housing and university office spaces.
  • Adventure Education Center: Our most remote and secluded-feeling location, within a short drive or moderate bike ride from campus.

Register Here!

Wilderness First Responder courses are designed specifically to meet the needs of wilderness guides, expedition leaders, and anyone traveling in the backcountry with friends or family. This is the industry standard for outdoor professionals and the course you want your friends to have taken before you travel with them. Using the Wilderness Medicine Training Center’s unique Hybrid Course, participants complete a course of study and tests online (Part 1) prior to the start of the practical on-site training (Part 2). This training is focused and thorough. The online portion requires serious study and the in-person portion requires commitment and effort. Refunds are generally not available for those who do not successfully complete the course. Call with questions or for more information at 734-764-3967.


May 3 – 7, 2022


  • $675 (Part 1 and Part 2)
  • $425 (Part 2 only)

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Purchase Tickets!

Ignite your passion for adventure! The Banff Centre Mountain Film Festival World Tour will exhilarate you with amazing big-screen stories when it comes to the Michigan Theater, hosted by Adventure Leadership.  Journey to exotic locations, paddle the wildest waters and climb the highest peaks.

Saturday, April 9, 2022


Michigan Theater @ 603 E Liberty Street, Ann Arbor


$18.00 General | $14.00 Students
(Day of Show – $20.00 General | $16.00 Students)

Let us boost your child’s summer fun with a dose of fresh air, forests, and growth! Recreational Sports Adventure Leadership Camps are packed with opportunities for campers to cultivate wonder, build confidence and independence, and develop new relationships.

Your camper will spend a week engaging in a variety of experiences that will empower them with skills to achieve their personal development goals and encourage exploration of the natural world around them. We invite campers to connect with the sprawling woods, open fields, and the running stream at the University of Michigan’s Adventure Education Center, as well as practice mindfulness in the tranquil environments that surround us.

Our activities, excursions, and challenge course initiatives will inspire collaboration and creative problem solving while allowing campers to expand their capacity for resilience, enhance wellbeing, and enjoy all the outdoor excitement Ann Arbor has to offer!

Registration information will be released soon – fill out this form to be first in line to register for these unique and transformative day camp opportunities!

Both day camp sessions take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday, at the Adventure Education Center at 1120 N. Dixboro Road, Ann Arbor, MI 48105. Drop-off will occur at 8:30 a.m. and pick-up will end at 4:30 p.m.

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Outdoor Challenge Camp Week
July 25-29, 2022

Learn essential survival skills through a week of hands-on experiences that stimulate thinking outside the box. Campers (ages 11-13) will explore local parks to learn orienteering, Leave No Trace practices, fire building, shelter construction, and other nature skills. Paddling and climbing will also be included to ensure campers hike out with the confidence to take on the great outdoors!

Space will be limited to the first 24 registered campers.

Cost: $315

Wilder-Wellness Camp Week
August 8-12, 2022

We invite your teen to embody an authentic expression of self while engaging all of their senses on a variety of outdoor excursions! Campers (ages 14-15) will partake in activities such as hiking through the lush forest, discovering strengths through our low ropes course elements, or simply enjoying quiet time as they survey scenic landscapes – all guided by our Social Work Field Placement Graduate Students, trained in adventure therapy practices. Connecting body and mind with nature, campers can break away from daily distractions and pressures to live in the present moment and find a slice of inner peace this summer.

Space will be limited to the first 24 registered campers.

Cost: $295


Trip Refunds

Refunds for Adventure Leadership trips are given only for the following circumstances:

  1. You can find someone to take your place on the trip.
  2. You have a documented medical emergency and must cancel.
  3. There is an active wait list for the trip and we are able to fill your spot.
  4. You are cancelling at least 3 weeks prior to the trip. For Spring Break and First Ascent Trips, at least 4 weeks prior is required.

Specific Trip Policies

Each trip follows a different set of policies and guidelines. We typically cover this information in our mandatory pre-trip meetings. These meetings are held a few days before your trip; if you have questions at any time, contact us.

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