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WalkAbout: 10 Days of Experiential Learning in the Wilderness

Published: April 13, 2021

WalkAbout is a ten-day wilderness experience designed for students to refine their definition of teamwork, community and leadership. Led by Greenville College Residence Life staff, the WalkAbout experience is held prior to the start of the fall semester each year for campus student leaders and any other interested students. This year, the group of 14 leaders and 44 students will journey through the Smoky Mountains July 30 - August 9.

WalkAbout participants are divided into groups of eight to "rough it" for ten days in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. Each group hikes between 30-40 miles over the course of eight days and then rejoins for the final two days of debriefing and group challenges.

Removed from their "comfort zones" (i.e. heated and air-conditioned homes, soft beds, TV's, radios, hot and cold water) students are faced with their own fears and limitations. The unpredictability of the wilderness creates a unique learning environment, which can never be duplicated in a conventional classroom. This environment provides an opportunity for students to develop experiential knowledge of teamwork, community and leadership. It also promotes the development of a stronger self-image, deeper appreciation of God's creation, and human's responsibility as stewards of creation.

Within the framework of this ten-day wilderness experience, it is Greenville College's goal to provide a challenging, as well as supportive, experience to everyone involved. All participants, not just the leaders, share the responsibility to challenge and support one another. In the context of the wilderness, participants are encouraged to examine assumptions, priorities, values, commitments, and self-imposed limitations. At the conclusion, individuals emerge from this process with a stronger and more personalized sense of values and commitments, a greater awareness and celebration of their own strengths, and the knowledge that their limitations need not keep them from succeeding. These specific objectives address the whole person in four interrelated areas: physical, spiritual, social, and emotional.

Over 380 Greenville College students have gone on WalkAbout since its inception in 1999. WalkAbout is a valuable tool teaching students to work together, think clearly, and relate effectively in stressful situations. The skills discovered and enhanced during WalkAbout are transferable to the daily life and practice of a collegiate leader.

Find out more about the day-to-day WalkAbout life on the WalkAbout Facebook pageand by checking out the 2009 WalkAbout video.

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