Meaningful engagement and active exploration: discovering the many faces and facets of Maine.
Beauty coexists with poverty; challenges coexist with hope. Service & Hiking Maine is an exploration of these ideas. Maine offers stunning landscapes and coastlines, but this state also invites us to delve deeper into the challenges its communities face. Areas in both rural and urban Maine are confronting issues of food insecurity and educational inequity. Over two weeks, we will engage with these challenges by putting effort and thought into community-based projects, while also enjoying pure summer fun in Maine.
We’ll start with work in community gardens and on local farms, learning about food systems and food access. We will partner with a teen agriculture program to deliver the produce to food pantries close by—a perfect opportunity to build relationships and better understand the community where we are living and working.
We’ll then make our way north to Baxter State Park where we’ll hike, camp and improve the trails of the park. Trail improvement will push us to work as a team to enhance the park and make it more accessible to hikers for years to come—and along the way we’ll enjoy hiking and camping, having fun and making friends.
Having gained strength, experience and closeness as a group, we’ll undertake a challenge hike of Mount Katahdin. Katahdin is the tallest peak in Maine and also marks the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail. It’s a big undertaking, but one we’ll be ready for.
At trip end, we’ll look back on two weeks of stewardship, awareness, teamwork and accomplishment in Maine. We’ll have discovered the many faces and facets of the state, and we’ll be eager to continue to learn and explore the needs of other communities—whether that means engagement close to home or much farther afield.
Sammy experienced many new challenges and adventures that have led to personal growth and self-discovery that will serve her well this year and in life.
- Rachel Ebby-Rosin, St. Davids, Pennsylvania
Day 1: Trip Start
Once everyone has arrived, we’ll go for a short hike near Portland, settle into our campsite and start preparing for two weeks of service in the beautiful state of Maine. We will learn about our service partners, get to know one another and cook our first meal together.
Days 2-4: Community Projects in Coastal Maine
During our first three days together, we will work with a farm along Maine’s midcoast to grow, pick and manage produce. We’ll spend time learning about agriculture and food system management.
Days 5 & 6: Canoe the Penobscot River
We’ll drive to the Penobscot River where we will embark on a two-day canoe trip. Professional guides will lead our group, and they’ll teach us how to steer our canoes and paddle efficiently. As we paddle, we’ll look across the water to Baxter State Park, which is our next destination.
Days 7-10: Explore Baxter State Park
After canoeing, we’ll travel to Baxter State Park and return to the trails. We will work with the park to learn the basics of trail maintenance while clearing and restoring existing trails. We will see the beauty of the area as we traverse ridgelines and valleys, taking in the vast wilderness of Maine.
Day 11: Hike Mountain Katahdin
We will finish our trip with a challenge hike up Mount Katahdin. This mountain, which is situated in Baxter State Park, is the tallest peak in Maine and also marks the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail. We will work together to reach the summit, pacing ourselves and encouraging each other every step of the way.
4 nights of frontcountry camping with access to showers and bathroom facilities .
1 night of backcountry camping with no access to bathroom facilities.
6 nights of primitive campsites while in Baxter State Park. We will have access to composting toilets.
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, wear your hiking boots and carry your sleeping bag and sleeping pad on the plane in case your checked luggage fails to arrive on time.
- Pack everything in your backpack or day pack. Do not bring additional luggage.
- 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.
- 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.
- Synthetic T-Shirt (3)
Short-sleeve T-shirt or tank top.
- Synthetic Long Underwear Top & Bottom (1)
- Work Pants (1)
Durable and suitable for trail work.
- Fleece Pants (1)
Please do not bring cotton sweatpants (they are heavy and bulky and will not keep you warm if wet).
- Synthetic Shorts (2)
- Underwear (7)
- Wool and/or Synthetic Socks (5)
- Winter Hat (1)
- Gloves or Mittens (pair)
To stay warm in camp on cool nights.
- Hat with Visor (1)
For protection from the sun. Baseball hats are acceptable.
- Swimsuit (optional)
- Fleece Jacket or Pullover (1)
Medium to heavyweight and reasonably compact.
- Packable Synthetic or Down Jacket (1)
Lightweight, compressible, synthetic (Primaloft or similar) or down jacket. Full zip or 1/4 zip are acceptable.
- Waterproof Raincoat (1)
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 (1)
Waterproof material required (not just water resistant). Rain pants provide protection from wind and rain and serve as an extra warm layer.
- Internal Frame Backpack
65-85 liters or 4,000-5,100 cubic inches. Before purchasing a backpack, find your backpack size by measuring your torso length and your hips (instructions are available here). We recommend getting fitted at a store and trying on multiple packs.
- Waterproof Pack Cover
If your backpack does not come with a cover, we recommend buying a cover one size larger than your pack.
- 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 15 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).
- 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).
- Water Bottle
One 1-liter bottle. A Camelbak or similar water carrier is acceptable.
- Headlamp & Extra Batteries
- Mosquito Head Net
- Camp Chair (optional)
A lightweight, packable camp chair to use in camp (Crazy Creek, for example)
Calf-height, waterproof gaiters to protect your legs and feet when hiking through brush, across snow fields or streams.
- Waterproof Hiking Boots
Choose comfortable boots designed for hiking with a pack (i.e., mid to high cut for ankle support). Boots should be waterproof. Break them in before the start of your trip.
- Camp Shoes
Closed-toe shoes to wear around camp. Crocs or lightweight tennis shoes are ideal.
- Photo Identification
A current school or other kind of photo identification (if you have one).
- Leather Work Gloves (pair)
Sturdy gloves to wear during volunteer work
- 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).
- Gallon Sized Ziploc Bags (10)
To organize and waterproof your gear and small items.
- Large Trash Bags (4)
To waterproof your gear.
- Package of Moleskin or Molefoam
To protect your feet from blisters.
Polarized sunglasses that wrap around to protect from glare are ideal.
- Sunscreen (SPF 15+) & Chapstick (with SPF protection)
- Insect Repellent
- Spending Money
$30 per week in cash or a debit/ATM card.
- Personal Journal or Book (optional)
- 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).
- Health Insurance Card
Please bring an original or copy of your health insurance card.
- What is the weather like on Service & Hiking Maine?
The weather on Service & Hiking Maine varies. Sometimes it is sunny and warm, while at other times it is rainy and cold; average summer temperatures range from the 50s to 80s and may be 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?
Your child will fly to and from Portland International Jetport (PWM). 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?
Groups typically shower and do laundry once a week.
- What do you do about bears?
Traveling as a large group goes a long way in preventing unwanted attention from wildlife. In addition, we hike in well-traveled areas and train all of our staff in backcountry skills and awareness. We instruct our leaders how to set up camp and store food in ways that reduce the chances of attracting wildlife, including bears. We’ll brief students on these routines at the start of the trip. Both of our leaders also carry bear spray in case of a bear encounter.
- 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.
- Can my child get credit for service hours?
You should check with your child’s school about whether or not Overland's service hours meet their requirements. The approximate number of hours of service are listed in the sidebar. We will provide your child with proof of participation after completion of his or her service work.
Engage in community projects, explore coastal Maine and hike the state's vast wilderness.
Students going on Service & Hiking Maine should prepare for:
- 7 days of hiking with an average of 5 miles per day
- 7 days of volunteer service for an average of 5 hours each 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
On Service & Hiking Maine, you will spend three days backpacking and do some additional hiking to and from your trail work campsite. You will hike over rolling terrain, following trails that may be rough, muddy or overgrown.
Backpacking is a strenuous physical activity and requires proper training. While backpacking, our groups are fully self-supported—you will carry all of your belongings (clothes, sleeping bag and pad), some group gear, food and water. Your leaders will distribute group gear and food among all members of the group. Pack weights will vary trip by trip, depending on the location, weather, student and the distance covered. Typically when backpacking, pack weights average about 30% of a hiker’s weight.
Before your trip, we strongly advise you spend time breaking-in and adjusting to your hiking boots. We expect you to prepare adequately so you can keep up physically and participate in all of your group's activities. Please follow our guidelines as you prepare for your program.
- 5 weeks before your trip: take three 30-minute hikes or walks in your boots.
- 4 weeks before your trip: take three 30-minute hikes or walks in your boots.
- 3 weeks before your trip: take three 1-hour hikes or walks in your boots.
- 2 weeks before your trip: take three 1-hour hikes or walks in your boots with a backpack loaded with 10-15% of your body weight.
- 1 week before your trip: take two 2-hour hikes or walks in your boots with a backpack loaded with 20-25% of your body weight.
Groups typically average between 1½ and 3 miles per hour (although pace varies by group). You will take multiple breaks throughout the day—for water, snacks, lunch, to adjust packs, etc.
Preparing for Service
Trips involving service work require a positive attitude and willingness to work hard as a volunteer. You should be eager to participate in a variety of service projects. Please note some of the service opportunities your group pursues will depend on the needs of the local communities and available service opportunities.
As the summer nears, stay active and fit through sports and exercise. Once your program starts, commit yourself wholeheartedly to your group and all of its activities.
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 will call home upon arrival and before departure. You may also be dropped off at the airport, or in Williamstown (depending on your program’s start and end locations). More information regarding travel to and from your trip will be provided with the admissions review forms upon applying.
Preparing for an Overland Experience
Overland programs are wholesome, structured experiences with high expectations of each student’s behavior. Overland expects all students to contribute to an enthusiastic, positive group. We expect you to be helpful and supportive of your trip mates and leaders. 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.