As any Overland student knows, preparing for your trip can be a bit nerve wracking. Whether you’re embarking on Berkshire...
The Benefit of a New Overland Group Every Summer
Overland is a bit different than traditional summer camp. Instead of returning to the same place with the same people when summer rolls around, Overland students choose and embark on a new adventure. A longtime Overland student may spend every summer in a different state or even country, and it’s likely that they’ll never have the same trip mate twice. We asked some veteran Overland students for their perspective on the Overland experience, how their different trips have built on each other, and what they’ve gained by returning to Overland year after year.
Abbey Wish started with Overland as soon as possible — the summer after fourth grade on the introductory trip Berkshire Adventure. On Berkshire Adventure and then the following year on North Country Adventure, Abbey learned the ropes of Overland and got a taste of hiking, biking, and camping. She discovered a love for biking and decided on Vermont the following year. In Abbey’s words, “It was this trip where I became addicted to Overland.”
Abbey continued to pursue biking for the next three summers with a clear goal in mind. “After Vermont, I decided I wanted to eventually do the American Challenge [a six-week bike trip which—at the time—started in South Carolina and ends in Southern California]. I knew that the American Challenge was going to be extremely difficult, so for the next two summers I did trips that increased with difficulty… Both the Pacific Coast and Canadian Rockies let me experience longer days and harder terrain than I had experienced during the Vermont trip. I am extremely happy that I slowly worked my way up to the American Challenge because by the time I did it last summer, I felt prepared and ready. When I got on the bike on the first day of the American Challenge, I knew what to do and had a good idea of what to expect.”
Evan Michelman’s first Overland trip was North Country Adventure, and he quickly learned to pitch a tent. Evan honed his camping skills on two more hiking trips with increasing levels of physical difficulty — Yellowstone Teton Explorer and then Alps Explorer. “[Alps Explorer] was my most challenging trip, but the journey up each mountain was made enjoyable by the people on my trip. The overwhelming views from the top of each mountain in the Alps showed me a part of the world’s beauty.” Last summer, Evan traveled further afield on Field Studies Tanzania. The group experienced safari in the Serengeti, volunteered at an orphanage, and engaged in Tanzanian culture and community—experiences totally new and different from any other Overland trip. But Evan’s hiking trips certainly served him well on the group’s final challenge, a summit bid of Mt. Kilimanjaro.
For both Abbey and Evan, the common denominator on each Overland trip—no matter the location—is the close relationships they’ve formed with their leaders and trip mates, and the sense of accomplishment after facing a challenge. “By the end of each trip, I had gained 13 new friends, and the last thing I wanted to do was leave them. At Overland, I have learned to drop all preconceived notions before meeting new people and learning about things,” says Evan.
For Abbey, challenge and camaraderie at Overland go hand in hand. “Although each of my Overland trips was special in its own way, the accomplishment of biking across America is an experience that I will look back on and treasure for the rest of my life. It was filled with incredible emotional and physical challenges, and overcoming these challenges with the support of my group and leaders was powerful and transformative for me.”
As Abbey and Evan have grown and changed over the years with Overland, so have the trips they’ve chosen, with new adventures to face and tougher challenges to conquer. No matter the itinerary, it is the foundation of the Overland experience that keep Abbey and Evan returning every summer. Abbey says it best: “Overland has taught me the importance of working as a team and supporting each other. It has taught me that difficult challenges can be overcome with hard work and commitment. Also, I have learned that I am stronger than I thought I was, and that when something seems impossible, if you break it down into smaller pieces, it can be done.”