What are Meals Like on an Overland Summer Hiking Trip for Teens?

If you’re curious about what meals are like on a summer hiking trip for teens, read on!

At Overland, we make sure that each trip, all over the world, has good food and plenty of it! We like to say that there are six meals a day on every Overland trip.

Part One: Overland’s Six Meals-A-Day

  1. Breakfast
  2. Morning Snack
  3. Lunch
  4. Afternoon Snack
  5. Dinner
  6. Dessert

Breakfast on an Overland trip will typically consist of cereal, milk, juice, and fruit to kick off the day. 

Most lunches are sandwiches or wraps with a variety of customizable toppings and fillings, chips, and fruit. There’s always something for everyone! 

During the day, there’s always plenty of time on the trail for snacks, which may include granola bars, trail mix, and apples.

Dinners at Overland are group efforts to pull off a big meal in an outdoor setting with just two small backpacking stoves. Overland groups get creative at dinnertime with burritos, tacos, pastas, and stir frys. After a long day on the trail, dinner is the perfect way to come together and refuel.

At the end of each day, every Overland group gathers one last time for a simple dessert—think cookies or gummy bears—and for reflections on the day.

Part Two: There’s More to Meals at Overland Than Just Food!

Meals are a trip highlight for many students, as it’s a time for the whole group to come together, laugh, and reflect on the day’s adventures. 

  1. Cook Crew. Throughout each trip, students will rotate through the Cook Crew, and will help one of their leaders to prepare the day’s meals. They’ll brainstorm with their trip mates about a meal that everyone is excited about, and will go to the grocery store to purchase the necessary ingredients. The combination of fun and excitement alongside routine and responsibility on an Overland trip instills in our students a clear sense of teamwork, independence, and self-reliance. 
  1. Cheers. When a meal is prepared and the group has gathered, we wait until everyone in the group is ready, then we say Cheers and dive in! This simple courtesy—waiting for one another—pays rich dividends in many, many ways.
  1. Dessert Circle. At the end of the day of every Overland trip, the group has Dessert Circle, which is one of our favorite Overland traditions. At Dessert Circle, each student shares their high of the day, their low of the day, and a cheers— a shout out to, and expression of gratitude for, one of their trip mates, leaders, or someone they met on the trail. Dessert Circle helps to build students’ confidence as they have a moment with the spotlight on them. We love thinking about how every day of the summer, students all over the world— from the Sierras to the Alps, from Mount Greylock to Mount Kilimanjaro, are reflecting on their adventures and sharing stories at Dessert Circle. 
  1. The Final Dinner. Veteran Overland leader Will Savage (who is a member of our year-round team) shared his thoughts on the Overland tradition of a final dinner out for the group:

“My favorite Overland meal is the final dinner! Even though it signifies the end of the trip, I found these dinners to be filled with stories, laughter, and smiles. While everyone loves being on cook and clean crew, every once and a while it is nice to be able to sit back and enjoy someone else’s cooking. We would always call ahead and reserve a big table in one of the side rooms of a restaurant so that we could be loud without bothering our fellow guests (a key tenet of LNT principles). Final dinner is one of the best meals because everyone pitches in on finding the restaurant and you can review the menu ahead of time to ensure that there are plenty of options for everyone. It’s also the perfect opportunity to order all of the food you might not have been able to have on the trip. My students loved ordering milkshakes, french-fries, mozzarella sticks, and all sorts of pizza. Final dinner always left a lasting impression on the students and set the stage perfectly for our final dessert circle. I think the final dinner embodies the essence of the Overland experience: great food, good people, and a community reflecting on shared accomplishment.”

Part Three: Allergies & Intolerances 

At Overland, meals are a group experience, an important way to foster connection with and consideration for other group members. For students who have food allergies or intolerances, we’re eager to partner with families to make a plan so that our admissions team and your child’s leaders can best support them. If you have any questions about this process, or want to chat more about meals at Overland, don’t hesitate to reach out to us (413-458-9672 or [email protected]). We’re always happy to chat! 

Part Four: Overland Leader Reflections on Meals

Lilly Bianchi on our Leader Hiring team went on six Overland trips as a student, and went on to lead trips for five summers! She said that “meals have always been central during my time at Overland, both as a leader and as a student. As a kid who was pretty shy, being on Cook Crew was a great opportunity for leadership amongst my peers and trailside lunches were when I first fell in love with hummus. As a leader, meals were always a fun time for creativity.” As for her go-to meal, Lilly shared that “Quesadillas were one of my favorite dinners to make with groups— we’d have Cook Crew take orders and everyone got a personalized quesadilla, wrapped in tinfoil, and labeled with their name and a drawing. It was so fun! Not just the food but the experience bound up in it was so important to bringing our group together.” Alex Dunn on our Trip Planning team led Iceland Explorer in 2022, and now plans the trip! She reflected on Dessert Circles the group enjoyed in the Land of Fire and Ice, and shared that she and her co-leader “would occasionally incorporate a dessert that was familiar and a reminder of home. However, more frequently, we encouraged our groups to try Icelandic desserts! Both Góu Hraunbitar (chocolate “lava bites”) and Æðibitar (chocolate and coconut biscuit) were a hit on our trip to Iceland!”

What are Meals Like on an Overland Summer Hiking Trip for Teens: Thoughts from our Year-Round Team

Free Download

How To Choose A Summer Adventure For Your Child

Get first-hand insights into what you should look for when choosing the next summer travel adventure for your child.



    Tom Costley

    When Tom Costley founded Overland in 1984, he sought to create experiences for young people that were fun, where new friendships could grow, where natural beauty was embraced, where there were real and varied challenges, and where Overland’s students would achieve something of importance to them. Overland’s focus on small groups, carefully crafted trips, and superlative leadership has made it a leader in the summer camp world. Overland’s commitment to excellence in everything it does has led to its success: over the past four decades, Overland has served 40,000 students and 5,000 trip leaders. Tom writes about the outdoors and travel from Williamstown, Massachusetts.

Apply for Trip

Apply for trip

Info Sessions

info sessions