The Yukon—vast, remote, legendary—is an ideal leadership course destination.
As with every Overland leadership course, learning blends seamlessly into our activities. In the Yukon, this means we’ll hone our leadership skills while hiking, backpacking and canoeing.
From Whitehorse, the Yukon’s capital, we will set out on a three-day hike in Kluane National Park where you’ll learn backcountry skills and begin your discussions of leadership.
We’ll canoe with local guides. Like Klondike Gold Rush prospectors, we’ll paddle pristine rivers and lakes for five days, stopping to camp on shore each night. Then it’s back to Kluane National Park for a longer and more strenuous backcountry hike.
In each setting, we’ll deepen our understanding of leadership. In discussions and hands on work, you’ll explore your own leadership style, facilitate healthy group dynamics and partner effectively with a co-leader.
At trip end, we will have seen a lot, done a lot and learned a lot. We’ll also have shared a lot with each other: stories and laughter and fun. Friendships will have grown and the group will have become close. That’s one of the great things about Overland. We can go so far from home—all the way to the Yukon—and find learning and challenge and accomplishment, and find fun and friendship, too.
Audrey's Overland adventures have been the highlights of her summers. She enjoys the chance to explore, to be challenged both mentally and physically, to experience new parts of the world, to sleep outside and to meet new people.
- Monica Drane, Chicago, Illinois
Days 1-3: Trip Start & Day Hike
We’ll meet in Seattle and fly together to Whitehorse, Yukon Territory, the province’s capital and largest city. We’ll explore the historic city of Whitehorse, stretch our legs on a day hike and catch our first glimpses of the vast and rugged landscape. As we prepare and pack for our first backcountry hike, we will learn about backcountry meal planning and gear preparation. In the afternoon, we’ll drive to Haines Junction, the starting point for our three-day hike in Kluane National Park, one of the largest expanses of protected wilderness in the world. We’ll camp at the foot of Paint Mountain with views of the Auriol Range, the dramatic peaks lining the eastern edge of the Park.
Days 4-6: Backpack in Kluane National Park & Reserve
For three days, we’ll hike in the Yukon’s wild and dramatic wilderness. On our second day, we will explore off-trail and learn navigation skills. With views of a glacier winding around the jagged peaks of the St. Elias Range, we’ll learn and practice backcountry skills like stream crossings and map reading through hands-on activities.
Days 7-12: Canoe Trip
We’ll meet our professional guides and get outfitted with paddling equipment. We’ll learn how to prepare for a river expedition, plan meals to cook on an open fire and pack our canoes before embarking on a five-day canoe expedition down a legendary Yukon river. Starting on flat water, we will learn basic paddle strokes, building to advanced techniques for entering and exiting the river, maneuvering various river features and traveling through class I and II rapids. We’ll learn expedition river skills like campsite selection and cooking on a fire. Each night, we’ll camp on the river banks and enjoy the rhythms of canoe travel.
Day 13: Visit a Sled Dog Kennel
Spending the morning in Whitehorse, we will prepare for our next backpacking adventure. As we drive west, we’ll stop and visit a sled dog kennel.The kennel, owned by a renowned musher and dog handler, is home to over 100 sled dogs. While touring the property and learning about the dog sledding culture, we’ll think about leadership through the lens of this different kind of high-functioning team.
Days 14-18: Backpack in Kluane National Park & Reserve
With new skills and experiences in tow, we’ll return to Kluane National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, for a challenging five-day backcountry hike. We will backpack through a variety of ecosystems, from spruce forests to alpine tundra and balsam poplar groves. At night, we’ll camp beside braided glacial rivers and spend our evenings relaxing and enjoying the 20 hours of sunlight. Surrounded by snowy mountain tops and wildflowers, we’ll find our voices as leaders with interactive activities on communication and decision-making. Each student will co-lead the group for a day, testing their planning, navigation and leadership skills under the careful supervision of their Overland leaders.
Days 19 & 20: Trip End
We’ll drive back to Whitehorse and celebrate three weeks of accomplishment, leadership growth and new friendships before saying goodbye.
10 nights of backcountry camping with no access to bathroom facilities.
8 nights of frontcountry camping. Campground facilities vary; some have pit toilets while others have flush toilets and showers.
1 night at a hostel in Whitehorse with dormitory style accommodations and separate rooms for boys and girls.
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.
- Fleece Pants (1)
Please do not bring cotton sweatpants (they are heavy and bulky and will not keep you warm if wet).
- Synthetic Hiking Pants (optional)
Lightweight and quick dry material. Non-cotton warmup style pants are acceptable.
- Synthetic Long Underwear Top & Bottom (1)
- Synthetic Shorts (2)
- Synthetic T-Shirt (3)
Short-sleeve T-shirt or tank top.
- Underwear (5)
- Wool and/or Synthetic Socks (4)
- 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)
If we swim, many students will wear shorts (and a sports bra for girls).
- 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).
- Adjustable Trekking Poles
To add stability, reduce strain on the knees and improve balance while crossing unstable surfaces.
Calf-height, waterproof gaiters to protect your legs and feet when hiking through brush, across snow fields or streams.
- Mosquito Head Net
- 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
- 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.
- Water Shoes
Closed-toed sport sandals, water shoes or old sneakers to wear on the water. Sandals must have a heel strap for activities such as kayaking, rafting or canoeing (flip flops and Crocs are not acceptable).
- Camp Shoes
Closed-toe shoes to wear around camp. Crocs or lightweight tennis shoes are ideal.
A passport that is valid until at least six months after your trip end date
- Passport Photocopies
Make at least four photocopies of your passport and visa (if applicable). Leave one copy with your family and put photocopies in both your checked luggage and carry-on luggage for the flight, separate from your original documents.
- Photo Identification
A current school or other kind of photo identification (if you have one).
- 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).
- 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 local currency 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 Yukon Leadership?
The weather on Yukon Leadership varies. Sometimes it is sunny and warm, while at other times it is rainy and cold; typical summer temperatures in the Yukon Territory range from the high 40s to high 60s during the day and cooler at night. Although it varies year to year, the climate in the Yukon is often wet and thus temperatures may feel colder due to humidity. 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.
Your child should come prepared for some mosquitoes and black flies. The number of bugs varies from year to year with weather conditions. Using bug spray, head nets and wearing long sleeve shirts and/or pants alleviates most problems.
- What are the arrival and departure airports for my child’s trip?
You will need to arrange transportation for your child to and from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA). Overland will coordinate group flights between Seattle and Whitehorse, Yukon Territory. 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 an emergency.
- What is the leadership piece of my child's trip?
On any Overland trip, there are inherent leadership skills we hope every student develops. On our leadership trips, we use our curriculum to teach specific leadership skills. Your child will focus on developing skills like communication and goal setting while also learning backcountry skills like map reading and navigation. On Yukon Leadership, your child will focus on the debriefing and reflection process and how to apply this to the development of their own leadership style. Groups engage with these topics through hands-on activities, informal lessons and their canoe expedition. Yukon Leadership is designed to provide students with a supportive, fun environment to find their voice as leaders.
- 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.
Hone leadership skills while hiking, backpacking and canoeing in the Yukon Territory.
Students going on Yukon Leadership should prepare for:
- 9 days of hiking with an average of 8 miles per day
- Learning and developing leadership skills
- 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 Yukon Leadership, you will go on one day hike and spend a total of eight days backpacking. You will hike through a variety of landscapes, including forests, river valleys and wide-open tundra. You will follow trails and backcountry routes through terrain that can be steep, muddy and 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 or shoes. Please follow our guidelines as you prepare for your program.
- 5 weeks before your trip: wear your boots for 15-30 minutes a day. Walk around your house or neighborhood so your boots begin to conform to your feet.
- 4 weeks before your trip: take three 45-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 2-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 3-hour hikes or walks in your boots with a backpack loaded with 25-30% 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 Leadership Development
The leadership curriculum is designed to teach you backcountry and leadership skills while giving you the opportunity to put these skills to work in a supportive and inclusive environment. Before your trip, you should be excited and ready to grow as a leader. We ask that you come prepared to engage in our leadership curriculum and all hands-on activities. You will have the opportunity to lead with another student under the careful supervision of Overland leaders.
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. 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.
All trips have a range of challenges. You should come prepared and recognize that some days will be more difficult, more challenging and longer—both in terms of miles and hours on the trail—than others. Delays occur due to a wide range of variables beyond the control of you, your group or your leaders. Weather patterns change and trail and route conditions vary. You, or someone in your group, might develop a blister or encounter another issue that could delay your group. On some days your group will arrive at camp in the early afternoon, with time to work on lessons from Overland's leadership curriculum or explore the area as a group, while on other days your group will spend more time on the trail.
Arriving ready for a challenge—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.