Here in the Overland Office, the wintertime is our busy enrollment season!
That means phones are ringing and lots of folks have questions; one of our most common questions is “what trip is best for my child?” There are lots of wonderful trips to choose from (we think they’re all great!), but we’ve got some tips below to help you find the right fit for your child.
To get started, our website has tools to help you narrow down your search. After selecting “View All Trips,” you’ll be able to filter by grade, length, trip type, and start date. An important note here is that your child’s grade is the grade they’re currently in.
Depending on your child’s age, there might be a few different trip types to choose from. Hiking is central to every Overland trip, but some trip types have additional goals as well. If your child likes the sound of trail restoration or volunteering at a local organic vegetable farm, our Service & Hiking trips offer an opportunity to connect with the community, whether in New England or Alaska. Our Language & Hiking trips combine hiking in beautiful France or Spain with engaging language classes and cultural experiences.
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Perhaps the most evident difference from there is location. Where does your child want to go? Glacier-studded Alaska? The Pacific Northwest’s rocky shorelines? What about the dramatic peaks of the White Mountains? Everywhere Overland goes is beautiful and helping students cherish that is one of our goals. You can read more about what our trip planners think is a great Overland setting in their scouting reports from the Alps, the Sierras, Norway, and Spain. Ask your child what they’re most excited about because whether they’re close to home or on another continent, they’re in for a great adventure.
A lot of our trips have what we call “extracurriculars,” which are activities other than hiking. Yellowstone Teton Explorer, for example, spends four days whitewater kayaking on the Snake River. Students practice new skills and progress under the careful guidance of both their Overland leaders and a number of dedicated kayak instructors. Some trips go on a multi-day sea kayak while others go whitewater rafting, and a few of our introductory trips even go rock climbing or bicycling on dedicated bike paths. These activities are one of the nuances that can help you and your child choose between different trips.
Finally, there’s availability. As we move through the winter, you’ll start to see some trips’ availability turn to Limited, and maybe even Waitlist. Limited availability means that the trip is nearing full, and spots may be limited based on gender or age, while Waitlist means the trip is currently full; we’re still happy to place your child on a waitlist, and try to find a great second option in the meantime.
At the end of the day, we want to provide choices and flexibility, but also offer trips that drive home the core tenets of an Overland experience. A parent recently said to me, “some of these trips look similar, just in different places!” That’s exactly our goal — each Overland trip has a distinct arc and a common experience of fun and challenge in a beautiful location. Choosing a trip is really just choosing a framework because every individual Overland trip is unique. Your child’s experience will be driven by their leaders and by their group, and they’ll walk away from the summer with just as many memories of the times they laughed really hard and the creative meals they ate as they will of the mountain vistas or winding trails.