Embarking on the Wheaton College Journey

A Photo Essay Documenting Passage Orientation

Words: Eliana Chow ’21
Photos: Wheaton College Student Media Team

To kick off the 2022-2023 academic year, Wheaton College launched its newly improved and reimagined Passage Orientation for freshmen. This was the first year that the Passage experience was fully integrated into orientation, introducing students to an inside glimpse of what their time at Wheaton may bring. All new incoming students participated in a track of their choice from three different sites: Wilderness, Northwoods, and Urban.


Students embarked on four different modes or “tracks” to complete their journey through the Superior National Forest: backpacking, canoeing, rock climbing, or sea kayaking. Led by Wheaton College faculty or staff, students slept under the stars, prepared their own meals, weathered the elements, and abided by the Leave No Trace guidelines throughout their adventure. Although the track determined the route and day’s activities, each group had time built in for prayer, rest, and worship as they forged relationships in the beauty of God’s creation.


Bunking in cabins at Wheaton College’s own HoneyRock Center for Leadership Development in the Northwoods of Wisconsin, students could choose from a plethora of available activities, ranging from outdoor ropes courses to quieter time with ceramics. They worshiped alongside peers, faculty, and staff beneath a canopy of trees, joining voices with the various birds and bugs soaking in the last drops of summer. Gathered around campfires at night, students spent time in devotions, prayer, and reflection as they processed both the excitement and fear of entering a new chapter of life.


Whether in the heart of downtown Chicago or dwelling in the historic southside neighborhood of Woodlawn, each of the two tracks is designed to give students first-hand experience with intergenerational, multicultural, and faith-based community service. Alongside professors from across many academic disciplines, students explored both the familiar and the hidden, from high-visibility skyscrapers and the lakefront to lesser-known community murals and small businesses. Most days included educational walking or biking tours of the surrounding neighborhoods, reading time, worship, small group discussions, and shared meals.

Student Reflections

Passage programming included ample opportunities for students to check in with one another, faculty, and staff to reflect on what they were learning and how God was speaking to them throughout the week. In the following video documentary, shot and edited by Wheaton College’s Student Media Team, five incoming students share about their journey to Wheaton and what they found most valuable about Passage.

To learn more about Passage Orientation, visit https://www.wheaton.edu/passage.