As part of Bear Beginnings, first-year students will participate in a three-day Immersive Experience with a group of your peers.  All first-year students are required to participate.

Through your WashU Pathways account, you will rank three programs in preference order choosing from:

Arts Under the Arch

Arts Under the Arch schedule (PDF)

Theme Hosts

What we see, feel, hear, and create shapes who we are. Arts Under the Arch challenges students to explore their understanding and connection to the arts and the role of art, culture, and design in society. Art impacts everyone and can shape your experience of place, community, and identity. As a creator or a connoisseur of music, dance, theatre, visual art, architecture, or other mediums of expression, Arts Under the Arch will expose you to resources on campus and throughout St. Louis where you can engage in meaningful ways. You will gain diverse perspectives when you connect with faculty, artists, alumni, and key players in the St. Louis community. You will explore your creative voice and build connections that will enrich your time at WashU, in St. Louis, and throughout your life. No prior creative experience needed.

Engage STL

Engage STL schedule (PDF)

Theme Hosts

During Engage STL, you will build relationships, visit neighborhoods, learn from community leaders and faculty, participate in excursions, and volunteer with local organizations. Topics will include community engagement; environmental sustainability; and diversity, equity, and inclusion. Engage STL will help you find your place at Washington University and the greater St. Louis area while building a community rooted in shared values.

Innovation & Entrepreneurship

Innovation & Entrepreneurship schedule (PDF)

Theme Host

Skandalaris Center for Interdisciplinary Innovation and Entrepreneurship

During this immersive experience program, students will engage with like-minded students and move through the Skandalaris Center’s three missions: Create. Innovate. Launch. You will experience hands-on activities, receive an introduction to creative problem solving, learn from innovators, explore St. Louis’ entrepreneurial community, meet successful entrepreneurs, pitch ideas, and start your network both on and off campus.

Make Your Impact

Make Your Impact takes place at two off campus sites. See below for information about the locations.

 Off-campus host website (Camp Williamson)

 Off-campus host website (Camp Lakewood)

Theme Hosts

Make Your Impact provides a fun-filled camp experience complete with opportunities to learn more about your individual leadership style, participate in team building, explore group dynamics, and experience outdoor activities. This will prepare you to lead with confidence as you begin your college career. In addition, you will be able to develop close personal relationships with peers, learn about campus resources, and position yourself to lead well into your future. Finally, we will elevate your existing leadership skills and prepare you to lead within your student group, academic discussions, and make your impact within the community.

Camp Lakewood Packing List

Camp Williamson Packing List


You will be notified which program you have been placed in at the beginning of August.  You should preference whichever program interests you most; it does not need to align with your academic course of study.

Students who identify with one of the following groups will be pre-assigned to their Immersive Experience:

  • Beyond Boundaries
  • College of Arts & Sciences: Honorary Scholar (CMML)
  • Danforth Scholar
  • Ervin Scholar
  • Fall Varsity Athlete (Cross country, football, golf, soccer, volleyball)
  • McKelvey School of Engineering: Langsdorf Scholar
  • Rodriguez Scholar

If you participate in Arts Under the Arch, Engage St. Louis, or Innovation & Entrepreneurship, you will spend your evenings on the WashU campus, sleeping in your residence hall.  If you  participate in Make Your Impact, you will be staying at one of two area camps taking only what you need for three days and two nights, the majority of your belongings will remain in your residence hall room.  Dietary restrictions and medical accommodations can be met by all programs.

A special note for Shabbat Observant students: The Immersive Experiences take place Thursday, August 22nd – Saturday, August 24thArts Under the Arch, Engage St. Louis, and Innovation & Entrepreneurship will take place on campus and have schedule adjustments to ensure you can participate in Shabbat meals and services offered by Chabad or Hillel.  Kosher food can be available for all on campus options.

Make Your Impact will take place at area camps that are located more than an hour from campus.  This program involves travel to return to campus on Saturday.  It will not be possible to avoid travel on Saturday if you attend Make Your Impact. However, if you attend Make Your Impact, Kosher food can be provided.