Pre-Orientation Trips


From rock climbing to building a Habitat for Humanity home, students who participate in The Leading Edge program recall the week as one of their best college memories. Choose one of five program tracks: Appalachian Adventure, Volunteer Venture, Archaeology, Freedom Ride, or Sustainability. Each will prepare you for an amazing experience as a First-Year student at Washington and Lee.

Pre-Orientation takes place the week before regular First-Year student orientation begins. The programs are small and inviting, a testament to the atmosphere of W&L. The Leading Edge provides incoming First-Year students with the opportunity to begin their college career with friends, a sense of community, sharpened teamwork skills, and a memorable, meaningful, and challenging experience. The College Board recommends pre-orientation programs as a “great way for new students to get acclimated to their new environment and meet others with shared interests” in low pressure settings. Leading Edge programs engage incoming First-Years from the start of their undergraduate experience, emphasizing the community aspect of college life.

There are currently five trips to choose from:

Appalachian Adventure

Appalachian Adventure gives students the opportunity to challenge themselves and meet fellow First-Year and upper-division students, all while hiking the Appalachian Trail.


This trip engages in archaeological field excavation and laboratory analysis. Students learn about the 18th- and 19th-century institutions that developed into W&L and about the wealth of resources we can use to bring this early history to light, both in Lexington and with additional field trips to nearby historically important sites.

Freedom Rides

Freedom Ride is a one-week pre-orientation trip that carries incoming students to southern cities with rich connections to the black freedom struggle.  Via a bus journey through Virginia, Georgia, and North Carolina, the group will examine how racial injustice, resistance, and memorialization impact 21st-century community building.

Volunteer Venture

Volunteer Venture is a one week service-learning pre-orientation program for incoming students. The program introduces students to the poverty themes in cities surrounding W&L:  Education and Policy; Coal Mining, Nutrition and the Environment; Setting Sights on Civil Rights; Building a Home; Poverty and Health Care; Urban Poverty; and Hunger and Homelessness. Students will become a part of these communities for a week, living, learning, and working with the individuals they serve.


Dive into a daily theme around sustainable development, which may include energy and climate change, water use, people and places, buildings, and environmental policy — or investigate the sources of our food, the energy it takes to grow and manufacture food, equitable food access, and questions about health and nutrition.