40 Years of Experience Distilled

your questions, answered

Something else on your mind? If our FAQs don’t cover everything, feel free to call or
email our office. We’re happy to chat!

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 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 since the 1980s.

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 their interests and abilities. You should spend some time familiarizing yourself with the details of the specific trip 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. Once the trip begins, your child should be ready –and excited– to contribute to a wholesome and enthusiastic group in which each member feels welcomed and valued. While no previous experience is required, we have high expectations of our students.

What is Overland's admissions process?

When we receive your application, if your first choice is available, we will:

  1. email you to thank you for your application,
  2. send you a link to access your Family Portal, and
  3. charge a deposit of $795 to your credit card.

If your first choice is not available, we will email you to discuss options.

What vaccinations and medications does my child need in order to travel abroad with Overland?

Overland strongly recommends that families of students traveling abroad consult their child’s doctor and visit a travel clinic well before the start of the program to discuss options for travel-related vaccinations and medications. These are in addition to your child’s routine vaccinations and regularly prescribed medication.

You and your doctor are encouraged to generally review information from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. State Department, the World Health Organization (WHO) or other sources, in addition to the specifics of your selected program, to consider health issues and determine what, if any, travel-related vaccinations and medications are appropriate for your child. Overland will provide a “Travel Vaccinations & Medications” form to assist with this process.

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. 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 their trip, please note that 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).

Communication: We’ll Be In Touch With You If Needed

Our leaders in the field check in 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 other 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 I send my child a care package during the trip?

We recommend letters, cards, or postcards instead of care packages. If, however, you send a care package, bear in mind that many don’t make it to the intended recipient (because we’re moving), and that many aren’t returned to the sender.

My child’s birthday is during the trip — can I send a gift?

We recommend that you send a letter, card, or postcard instead and save the gift for when your child returns home at the end of the trip (and, don’t worry; your child’s trip leaders will make sure there is a celebration!).

Can I send mail to my child during a trip?

Getting a letter, card, or postcard while on an Overland trip is always exciting.

Please keep in mind that sending mail to your child on an Overland trip is different than sending mail to a traditional camp because your child will be on the move. Our experience has been that mail often does not arrive on time, and sometimes even when it does, post offices, campgrounds, and other mail stops do not reliably deliver mail to our groups.

For these reasons:

1. Please do not send anything valuable – please send letters, cards, or postcards only. If mail is late, lost, or misdirected, Overland’s leaders and staff are not able to return to the post office (or other mail stop) to collect it.

2. Please use the US Postal Service first-class mail only; do not use UPS, FedEx, or DHL (many of our mail stops accept US Postal Service mail only).

3. Please do not send overnight letters: many overnighted letters arrive before or after we arrive and are sent back. For this same reason, please do not send mail that requires a signature upon delivery.

4. Please allow one week for delivery to U.S. mail stops.

5. Please allow two weeks for postal delivery to international mail stops.

How challenging are Overland's hiking trips?

We offer a wide range of hiking trips to ensure we have something for all of our students.

Our youngest students (grades 4-6) can join us on our introductory Adventure trips, where mileages are shorter, terrain is more forgiving, and packs are light (just lunch, water, raingear, and hats/sunglasses). Explorer trips (grades 6-9) offer a range of day hikes, an introduction to backpacking, and activities off the trail, such as rafting and kayaking. Expedition trips (grades 9-11) are a step up in difficulty. These trips have longer backpacking sections and include activities off the trail (e.g., rafting, kayaking, rock climbing, or mountaineering). Our Challenge trips (grades 10-12) offer a capstone experience for our students with our longest days and most challenging terrain, some also include off-trail activities.

If you have questions about our trips or would like our help selecting the trip that’s the right fit for you, please email us at [email protected].

How challenging are Overland's Adventure trips?

These trips feature a wide range of fun outdoor activities–including hiking, biking, basic rock climbing, introductory rafting, and flat-water canoeing.

Trips vary by length (one week or two weeks) and location. As on every Overland trip, our leaders provide a warm, welcoming, and fun environment in which everyone is included and supported. Introductory trips are the perfect place to discover the outdoors, try a new activity, and make new friends.

We’re always happy to tell you a bit more about our introductory trips– just email us: [email protected].

What are meals like at Overland? Can Overland accommodate allergies and intolerances?

These trips feature a wide range of fun outdoor activities–including hiking, biking, basic rock climbing, introductory rafting, and flat-water canoeing.

Trips vary by length (one week or two weeks) and location. As on every Overland trip, our leaders provide a warm, welcoming, and fun environment in which everyone is included and supported. Introductory trips are the perfect place to discover the outdoors, try a new activity, and make new friends.

Meals at Overland

Good food (and plenty of it!), excellent nutrition, and fun are the goals of Overland’s meals. Each group buys, prepares, and eats all of its meals together. Our students, with their leaders’ supervision, prepare all meals. A typical breakfast has cereal, milk, juice, and fruit; most lunches are sandwiches (or wraps) with a variety of fillings, plus chips, and fruit; dinners reflect easily prepared group meals like pasta, burritos, and stir-frys (all of which will typically have a selection of sauces and fillings). At Overland, meals are a group experience, an important way to foster connection with and consideration for other group members.

Allergies & Intolerances

We recognize there are many young people with food allergies or intolerances. We welcome these young people’s interest in joining us, and we ask parents of a prospective Overland student with an allergy/intolerance to please consider the following important information.
Most meals at Overland are prepared in basic kitchens (or outdoors), and groceries are typically purchased from small stores with limited choices. As a result, meals are prepared and served in what may be allergen-contaminated environments, and on many trips allergen-free/gluten-free foods are not readily available. While we cannot guarantee allergen-free meal settings, we will do what is reasonable to provide allergen-free/gluten-free foods on those trips where available.
All things, our top priority is to help maintain all students’ well-being; to this end, all Overland leaders are trained to recognize and respond to allergic reactions, including administering antihistamines and epinephrine (both are carried in every trip’s first aid kit); leaders carry cell phones, and in some cases, satellite phones, so that should the need arise, emergency personnel can be contacted and their services requested. It is important for all prospective parents to understand that many groups travel in remote areas where emergency services may not be easily or readily accessible.

Our Admissions Process is Collaborative

During our admissions process, we will review all submitted Allergy Questionnaires to understand the applicant’s allergy/intolerance. We will then consider whether or not the applicant’s allergy/intolerance may be reasonably accommodated. If our admissions team has any concerns, they will contact the parent. In this conversation, we will seek to learn more about the allergy/intolerance, and we will discuss the available grocery stores, emergency services, and medical facilities on the applied-for trip. These conversations generally have one of three outcomes:

  1. The applicant is placed on the applied-for trip if the applicant otherwise qualifies.
  2. We offer a different trip if the applicant otherwise qualifies.
  3. We recommend waiting a year and re-applying.

Managing Food Allergies/Intolerances is a Partnership

Our commitment is to the health and well-being of each of our campers. Our goal is to partner with parents and campers—a partnership in which:

    • We clearly describe our trips and policies;
    • Parents clearly describe their child’s allergies or intolerances and their child’s maturity level and capability to self-manage their allergy or intolerance.
    • We work together with parents in a collaborative and interactive process to determine if there are reasonable accommodations that can be made so that otherwise qualified applicants can participate in our trips.
    • Students on an Overland trip take an active role in managing their allergies, including reading food labels as needed, eating only those foods with known ingredients, and seeking a leader if a reaction is suspected.

Meals: Vegetarians & Specialized Diets

Every summer there are many vegetarians who join our groups and who enjoy meat-free meals. We are happy to welcome these students as long as they understand they will share in the group’s meals but will simply have the meat portion withheld. For example: sandwiches at lunch with hummus, lettuce, tomato, and cheese (while the rest of the group has sandwiches with sliced turkey or ham); pasta at dinner with a tomato sauce (while the rest of the group has pasta with a meat sauce). We sometimes have requests from applicants with specialized diets—vegans, for example—to provide separate, specialized meals. As much as we might like to accommodate these applicants, the limitations of our kitchens, the size of available grocery stores, and the importance of group meals make it impractical to provide separate, specialized meals.

My child may menstruate while on the trip. How will this be handled? Should I send my child with anything additional?

We recommend sending your child with the supplies they will need (i.e., pads, tampons, etc.). If they need additional supplies, they can let their leaders know so they can pick up any necessary items.

While in the front country (i.e., at an established campsite), groups will have access to facilities, many of which include flush toilets, running water, and trash receptacles. While in the backcountry (i.e., on backpacking portions of a hiking trip or while on a day hike) groups will not have access to facilities.

Preparation for hiking and backpacking, our leaders will talk with their students about how to relieve themselves in the backcountry. In most cases, this will include digging a cat hole (a shallow six-inch hole) in a private location away from water sources. Leaders will also provide every group member with an individual bag to pack out any trash (for example, toilet paper is packed out of the backcountry in the bag). Any materials used for menstruation (i.e., pads and tampons) will also be packed out in the bag. Once the group concludes their backpacking section and has access to trash services, each group member will dispose of their trash bag.

How often will there be access to showers and laundry? Will my child have to bring quarters and detergent for laundry?

Staying clean and comfortable is important at Overland!

Most trips have frequent access to hot showers. This ranges from nearly every night on some of our Introductory, Service, and Language trips, to every couple of days on many hiking trips, to longer stretches–three to five days, sometimes a little longer–on some of our more challenging trips. The goal on every trip, however, is to take showers when they are available!

In general, on every trip we do laundry once a week— this is typically in a laundromat with funds and detergent provided by Overland (and it’s usually a lot of fun!).

My child doesn't have experience being away from bathroom facilities. Will Overland's leaders teach and support the group?

Yes. We want each of our students to feel completely supported.

Every one of our trips will spend some of their time in areas with access to bathroom facilities, many of which include flush toilets, running water, and trash receptacles. Our youngest students, and those participating in service and language trips, will spend most of their time in settings like these.

All of our hiking trips will spend time away from areas with bathroom facilities. In preparation for a day hike away from facilities, or for a longer backpacking section, our leaders will teach the group about backcountry bathroom practices. In most cases, this will include digging a cat hole (a shallow six-inch hole) in a private location away from water sources. Leaders will also provide every group member a small bag to pack out toilet paper (and other paper products, e.g., pads and tampons).

Our leaders will also make sure that group members are supported with menstruation information, needs, and supplies (i.e., pads, tampons). We recommend sending your child with a supply of these items. If your child needs additional pads or tampons, the leaders can provide them.

How does Overland handle bears and other wildlife?

Traveling as a large group goes a long way in preventing unwanted attention from wildlife. Our groups hike in well-traveled areas, and set up camp and store food in ways that reduce the chances of attracting wildlife. In the case of a bear encounter, our groups carry bear spray as an additional precaution.

How is hiking in Europe different than hiking in North America?

Hiking in Europe is a mountain experience, but not a wilderness experience. On all of our routes in Europe, we hike through valleys dotted with small towns and villages, over passes used for centuries, and below some of the world’s most spectacular peaks. The trails are generally quite well-maintained, and there are almost always other hikers– of all ages!– on foot nearby.

Who are Overland's leaders?

Far more than simply counselors or guides, Overland’s leaders are terrific role models for our students. Capable and caring, our leaders focus on creating supportive, wholesome environments where every student can flourish and grow. We recruit our staff from the country’s top schools and rely on our network of leaders around the country to produce a deep pool of qualified applicants. Our talented leaders have one goal: the success of each of their students. This, perhaps more than anything else, has made the difference for us as an organization and for the thousands of students who have joined us.

How does Overland build groups?

Small Groups
Our groups are limited to twelve students — we pay attention to age, grade, gender, and the mix of hometowns and schools. While we accept applications from friend pairs, to create a welcoming environment for all students, we limit friend pairs in each group. We carefully evaluate every application, always looking for students who are eager for the opportunities we offer. Our goal is to put together great groups of nice kids. Since the 1980s, we’ve always strived to offer supportive and wholesome experiences for all of our students.

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Additional Resources

risk management

Our risk management philosophy is at the core of everything we do.

Expectations & Communication

Overland students leave their phones at home — no calling or texting or posting.

Food & Allergy

Meals are varied, nutritious, and hearty, and are a fun, student-driven part of every day.

Financial Aid

Overland broadens access to our trips through our financial aid and scholarship programs.

Payment Protection

Learn about your options and our deadlines when it comes to the finer details.

request a catalog

We’re happy to send you — or a friend — our 40th annual catalog.

Apply for Trip

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Info Sessions

info sessions