An introductory trip at Overland is all about fun and friends and adventure. It’s about hiking and kayaking and rafting, about games and stories and laughter. It’s about trying all the things we love to do at Overland and doing them in an incredibly beautiful place.
And the Blue Ridge is about as beautiful as a place can be. Picture lush green forests, clear cold rivers and mountains that go on and on forever.
The activities are a blast . . . and they’re fine-tuned to your interests and abilities. Overland is all about trying new things, developing skills, meeting new people and building fitness. On the trail or on the water, the tone is always positive and the encouragement is never-ending.
At trip end, you’ll look back on what might be the best two weeks of your summer. You and your group will celebrate all that you’ve done and seen, all that you’ve shared and experienced—the great activities and beautiful mountains, the fun times and close friendships.
Just as with all of our trips, we plan our introductory trips with great care: we choose fun and appropriate activities and beautiful and exciting places. When building each group, we keep the size of the group at just 12 kids, we balance the number of boys and girls, and we limit friend pairs to no more than two per group (so everyone feels welcome and included—right from the very start). Our approach to thoughtfully planning each aspect of our trips has helped us to be successful for over 30 years… please join us!
My favorite part was making new friends.
- Liza Carey, Concord, Massachusetts
Days 1-3: Trip Start and Day Hike
After meeting in Charlotte, we’ll head west to Pisgah National Forest. Over the next couple of days, we’ll review our gear, get to know one another and explore sprawling rivers and lush greenery on day hikes.
Days 4 & 5: Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest
We’ll then travel to the Nantahala Gorge located at the foot of the Great Smoky Mountains. We’ll go on a day hike in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and we’ll explore the enormous trees of Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest that stretch over 100 feet tall.
Day 6: Kayak Lake Fontana
Off the trail, we’ll learn to kayak on Lake Fontana with professional guides. After practicing kayak techniques and water awareness, we’ll set out on the smooth lake, discovering waterfalls and exploring coves.
Days 7-10: Hike in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Next, we’ll head to the heart of the Smokies and go on a series of day hikes, averaging five miles a day. Getting stronger with each step, we’ll cross wooden foot bridges and walk along rollicking streams. We’ll hike past Inspiration Point to Alum Cave Bluffs, marveling at the natural arches framing the trail. After building up our endurance, we’ll hike toward the Jumpoff and Charlies Bunion. We’ll then hike the Appalachian Trail up to Clingmans Dome for sweeping aerial views of both North Carolina and Tennessee.
Days 11-12: Raft the French Broad River and Trip End
We’ll drive north of Asheville to raft on the French Broad River with professional guides. We’ll enjoy class II and III whitewater rapids. On our final day together, we’ll have dinner to celebrate two weeks of friendship, fun and adventure in the Blue Ridge.
9 nights of frontcountry camping. Campground facilities will vary and may include flush toilets, showers and/or laundry.
3 nights in cabins with bunk beds, bathroom and showers.
Things to know
- We travel light on Overland trips; please only bring items on your packing list.
- Your group will have access to laundry periodically.
- Please do not bring any electronics (including your cell phone). See FAQs for more information on our cell phone and electronics policy.
- Do not bring any type of knife or multi-tool (such as a Swiss Army knife or Leatherman tool).
- If you are flying to your trip start, carry your sleeping bag and sleeping pad with you in case your checked luggage fails to arrive on time.
- There are no reimbursements for lost, damaged or stolen items.
- Please wear the navy Overland shirt that you will receive from the Overland office to your trip start location.
- Medium-Sized Duffel Bag or Backpack
3,000-5,000 cubic inch (50-80 liters) duffel bag. You will leave the duffel bag and any extra items in our van during the trip and use your day pack for hikes and daily activities.
- Synthetic Long Underwear Top & Bottom (1)
- Fleece Pants (1)
Please do not bring cotton sweatpants (they are heavy and bulky and will not keep you warm if wet).
- Synthetic Shorts (3)
- Navy Overland Shirt (1)
We will send students an Overland shirt prior to their trip, and we encourage students to wear their Overland shirt to trip start. We highly recommend this for students flying to their trip start location.
- T-Shirt (3)
Short-sleeve T-shirt or tank top.
- Long-Sleeve T-Shirt (2)
Lightweight for sun protection.
- Underwear (6)
- Athletic Socks (pair) (6)
- Winter Hat
- Gloves or Mittens (pair)
To stay warm in camp on cool nights.
- Hat with Visor
For protection from the sun. Baseball hats are acceptable.
- Pajamas (optional)
Students sometimes prefer to sleep in shorts and a T-shirt instead of bringing pajamas.
- Waterproof Raincoat
Waterproof material required (not just water resistant). Rain coats provide protection from wind and rain and serve as an extra warm layer. Your jacket should be large enough to allow layers underneath. We recommend hoods and breathable materials. Gore-Tex is a well-known waterproof and breathable fabric but there are many other quality fabrics. Ponchos are not acceptable.
- Waterproof Rain Pants
Waterproof material required (not just water resistant). Rain pants provide protection from wind and rain and serve as an extra warm layer.
- Fleece Jacket or Pullover
Medium to heavyweight and reasonably compact.
- Day Pack
Basic two-shoulder backpack large enough to hold your lunch, two water bottles, snacks, extra layers and rain jacket. Use your day pack as a carry-on for your flight and for daily activities or hikes. A standard school backpack is usually fine (no satchels or shoulder bags).
- Sleeping Bag
A lightweight, compact sleeping bag rated to 30 degrees Fahrenheit or less. We recommend either synthetic or treated down material. Your sleeping bag should compress into a stuff sack no larger than 20" in length.
- Sleeping Pad
Full- or ¾-length compact sleeping pad. We recommend closed cell foam that is thin and firm (e.g., RidgeRest) or self-inflating (e.g., Therm-a-Rest).
- Flashlight or Headlamp & Extra Batteries (1)
Headlamps are preferable because they free up your hands.
- Water Bottle (1)
One 1-liter bottle (a smaller size is acceptable).
- Bowl, Mug & Utensils
6" to 8" plastic dish or bowl with top, insulated plastic mug, spoon, fork and knife. These don't need to be special camping utensils (a Tupperware dish and regular utensils are fine).
- Sneakers (pair) (1)
Comfortable shoes to wear on daily activities. Shoes should be supportive and have a good tread on the bottom for traction.
- Water Shoes (1)
Closed-toed sport sandals, water shoes or old sneakers to wear on the water.
- Unaccompanied Minor Fee Receipt (if applicable)
For students travelling as Unaccompanied Minors, please print a copy of the UAM fee receipt for your child's leaders to keep on file.
- Baggage Fee Receipt (if applicable)
Some airlines allow passengers to input credit card information to cover checked bag service charges when checking in online prior to the trip. To reduce hassle at the airport, we encourage you to pay for checked baggage beforehand and supply your child with a copy of the receipt for his or her leaders to keep on file.
- Synthetic Camping Towel
A medium-size synthetic camping towel (synthetic camping towels dry much faster than regular towels).
All items should be travel size (if necessary, you will be able to restock during the trip).
- Sunscreen (SPF 15+) & Chapstick (with SPF protection)
- Insect Repellent
Polarized sunglasses that wrap around to protect from glare are ideal.
- Spending Money
$30 per week in cash or a debit/ATM card.
- Pillow (optional)
Compact, travel-size pillow recommended.
- Camera, Charger & Extra Batteries (optional)
A digital or disposable camera and, if necessary, a charger and large enough memory card to accommodate your pictures (4 to 8 GB).
- Personal Journal or Book (optional)
- Health Insurance Card
Please bring an original or copy of your health insurance card.
- What is the weather like on Blue Ridge Adventure?
The weather on Blue Ridge Adventure varies. Sometimes it is sunny and warm, while at other times it is rainy and cold; typical summer temperatures range from the 60s to 80s during the day and cooler at night. Our packing list takes these variables into consideration. Layering is the best strategy. Please follow the packing list, paying close attention to rain gear specifications.
- What are the arrival and departure airports for my child's trip?
You will need to arrange transportation for your child to and from Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) at trip start and end. We will provide more specific travel information once we have placed your child on a program.
- How often will my child have access to showers and laundry?
While we have regular access to showers, most students will shower once or twice a week. Groups will do laundry once a week.
- Please tell me about safety at Overland.
Safety and risk management are at the forefront of our decision-making–from trip planning to leader training to supporting our groups in the field. We cannot guarantee absolute safety–no program can. All recreational activities include inherent and other risks. Therefore, we strive to manage the risks that we can, knowing we cannot eliminate them. We work hard to recruit, train and support our trip leaders so they can create the kind of trips that have made us successful for over 30 years. Please click here to read more about our approach to risk management and our accreditation by the American Camp Association.
- Does my child need to have previous experience?
While no previous experience is required, we have high expectations of our students. We expect your child–with your help–to select a trip that is appropriate for his or her interests and abilities. You should spend some time familiarizing yourself with the details of the specific program and help your child understand what to expect. We also expect our students to prepare ahead of time: to review the packing list, gather clothing and gear and complete whatever training the trip requires (for recommended training please see the Before You Go tab). Once the trip begins, your child should be ready–and excited–to contribute to a wholesome and enthusiastic group where each group member feels welcomed and valued.
- Please tell me about Overland’s admissions process.
For more information, and to access our application, please visit our Apply page.
When we receive child’s application, if the first choice is available, you will receive a phone call and an email containing a link to our Overland Portal where you will find our Admissions Review Forms. We will accept your deposit to hold your child’s place in the program pending a favorable Admissions Review. If the first choice is not available, we will call you to confirm that the second choice is acceptable. If neither the first choice nor second choice are available, we will call you to discuss options. For those students placed on our waitlist, we will notify you as soon as a spot becomes available.
We seek to admit students who have demonstrated that they possess the personal qualities and experience necessary to succeed on an Overland trip. While Overland is always supportive and nurturing, an Overland program is unlike a traditional camp in that our small groups–12 students and 2 leaders–travel, live and work as a group, making all of their own meals, helping each other and cooperating in ways big and small, and they do all of this far from home. As a result, every student must be able to thrive in an environment that places equal emphasis on:
1. Teamwork and Shared Responsibilities.
2. Independence and Self-Reliance.
3. Support of Others and Consideration for Others.
- What are Overland’s policies on phones, electronics and communication?
To maximize independence and self-reliance, we do not permit phone calls, emails or text messages to or from our campers (the exceptions to this are: your child will call home on arrival and departure with our phones and assistance, and in the case of an emergency). If your child brings a phone for use while en route to Overland, please do not send him or her with an expensive smartphone; instead bring an inexpensive prepaid cell phone. All phones will be collected on arrival and returned at departure. While we will take reasonable steps to prevent damage, theft or loss to phones, we take no responsibility for phones and we will not make any reimbursements for lost, damaged or stolen phones.
Cameras are welcome but please do not bring any other electronics (e.g., iPods, iPads, Kindles or other readers, GPS or similar devices). All electronics (except cameras) will be mailed home on arrival (at your risk and expense).
We are committed to providing extraordinary support to you and your child; to that end, the Overland office is staffed from 8:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. seven days a week during the summer (outside of office hours our answering service provides emergency coverage). Our leaders in the field are in touch with our office regularly; they carry cell phones (and in some cases satellite phones). Anytime a camper is treated for an injury or illness by a doctor or medical personnel, parents are notified by our office. A director will call the parents to explain the nature of the injury or illness, the sequence of events leading up to the injury and/or the steps leading to the treatment. Parents are typically able to speak with the medical personnel, with the leaders and with their child.
Hike, kayak and raft in North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains.
Students going on Blue Ridge Adventure should prepare for:
- 8 days of hiking with an average of 5 miles per day
- Travel to and from the trip
- An Overland experience
We expect you to arrive to your trip fully prepared for all activities.
Preparing for Hiking
You should be prepared for day hikes in the Blue Ridge Mountains on well-established trails. Your group will hike together and take breaks for rest, snacks and water as necessary.
Stay active this spring, playing sports, walking and hiking.
Preparing for Travel to and from the Trip
Families are responsible for arranging flights to and from the designated airport during a specified window (please do not purchase flights until you have received an email confirming our review of your health forms and school reference). Overland staff will be at the airport to welcome you at the start of your trip and to assist with your departure at trip end. You may also be dropped off and picked up at the airport. If you are flying to and from your trip, we will have you call home upon arrival and before departure. We will provide more specific travel information once we have placed you on a program.
Preparing for an Overland Experience
Overland programs are wholesome, structured experiences with high expectations of each student’s behavior. You are expected to be supportive of your trip mates and your leaders, enthusiastic, positive and helpful. We ask that you leave your cell phone and electronics at home (cameras are always welcome), so you can fully engage with your group and your trip. You will have the opportunity to send letters and receive mail at designated mail stops, which are shared in the spring.
Arriving ready for a challenge, eager to experience new activities and prepared to contribute to an enthusiastic group will go a long way toward creating a successful trip. Please contact us if you’d like to discuss preparing for your Overland program.