PennQuest Leader Applications Open until December 27th. Apply here:

PennQuest Leader Application

Applications will be released later this spring for the Class of 2023.

(Must have your PennKey to submit an application.  PennKeys are provided to you once you confirm your Penn attendence.  Learn more about PennKeys here.

PennQuest is an outdoor orientation program being offered to 120 first-year students entering the University of Pennsylvania, sponsored by the Office of the Provost and the Platt Student Performing Arts House, with the support from the Undergraduate Assembly. The goals of the program are:

  1. to foster positive relationships with other students,
  2. to develop personal skills and self-confidence to meet the challenges of a college career and other life experiences, and
  3. to develop an appreciation for our natural environment.

In 2020, PennQuest has been adapted to a mostly virtual format to avoid the risks of spreading the COVID 19 virus.  Students that are accepted into the program will have the opportunity to engage in virtual activities in small groups with PennQuest Leaders.  The Leaders will provide a virtual outdoor experience, fun and games, and a chance to learn about Penn prior to arrival on campus. After arrival on campus, PennQuest will hike in small groups locally and safely with the proper pre-cautions. These day hikes are contingent upon the approval of the University of Pennsylvania and can change due to the current status of Covid 19 state and city rules.   The Leaders will continue their mentorship to their groups throughout the academic year.

PennQuest is a four-day outdoor experience which includes activities sponsored by Camp Towanda and a two and one-half day hiking/camping trip. Camp Towanda staff will lead small group initiatives in confidence building, an astronomy night hike, and camping skills training. The next day students will leave Camp Towanda to begin their hiking and camping trip along the Appalachian Trail. The 120 first-year students will be divided into groups of ten with each group led by two team leaders who are upper-class students.

Upon completion of the hiking trip, Camp Towanda and PennQuest staff will meet each group of students at the trail and transport them back to Camp Towanda. The students will then return to campus in order to prepare for the New Student Orientation activities.

Selection Process:

Each year, we receive more applications for the program than there are spaces available. Participants will be selected based upon a careful review of the applications.  Each application is reviewed and rated by the staff and student leaders of the program and a consensus is reached.  Those invited to participate will need to promptly complete registration forms and submit payment.  Students may apply to other pre-orientation programs as well and then decide which program to attend based upon their selection status.

Cost of Program:

Each participant is required to pay a program fee.  This fee will be between $25.00 and $60.00 and will be finalized prior to acceptance into the program.  The fee will cover t-shirt, water bottle, mask, possible lunch, and transportation to hiking locations if allowed.  Financial aid is available to anyone who receives any aid to come to Penn.  Please check the bottom of the application to be considered.

If you have questions, please contact Laurie McCall at 215-898-7038 or LMCCALL@UPENN.EDU.