An introductory trip at Overland is all about fun and friends and adventure. It’s about hiking and kayaking and rafting, about games and stories and laughter. It’s about trying all the things we love to do at Overland and doing them in an incredibly beautiful place.
And the Blue Ridge is about as beautiful as a place can be. Picture lush green forests, clear cold rivers and mountains that go on and on forever.
The activities are a blast . . . and they’re fine-tuned to your interests and abilities. Overland is all about trying new things, developing new skills and meeting new people. On the trail or on the water, the tone is always positive and the encouragement is never-ending.
At trip end, you’ll look back on what might be the best two weeks of your summer. You and your group will celebrate all that you’ve done and seen, all that you’ve shared and experienced—the great activities and beautiful mountains, the fun times and close friendships.
Just as with all of our trips, we plan our introductory trips with great care. We choose fun and appropriate activities and beautiful and exciting places. When building each group, we keep the size of the group at just 12 kids, we balance the number of boys and girls, and we limit friend pairs to no more than two per group (so everyone feels welcome and included—right from the very start). Add two caring, committed Overland leaders, and you’ve got the makings of a great summer adventure.
You do a great job of instilling confidence, inspiring with challenges, and encouraging with fun and a sense of adventure. Thank you. We can't wait to do it again!
- Malvina Martin, Bethesda, Maryland
Days 1-3: Trip Start and Day Hike
After meeting in Charlotte, we’ll head west to Pisgah National Forest. Over the next couple of days, we’ll review our gear, get to know one another and explore sprawling rivers and lush greenery on day hikes.
Days 4 & 5: Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest
We’ll then travel to the Nantahala Gorge located at the foot of the Great Smoky Mountains. We’ll go on a day hike in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and we’ll explore the enormous trees of Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest that stretch over 100 feet tall.
Day 6: Kayak Lake Fontana
Off the trail, we’ll learn to kayak on Lake Fontana with professional guides. After practicing kayak techniques and water awareness, we’ll set out on the smooth lake, discovering waterfalls and exploring coves.
Days 7-10: Hike in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Next, we’ll head to the heart of the Smokies and go on a series of day hikes, averaging five miles a day. Getting stronger with each step, we’ll cross wooden foot bridges and walk along rollicking streams. We’ll hike past Inspiration Point to Alum Cave Bluffs, marveling at the natural arches framing the trail. After building up our endurance, we’ll hike toward the Jumpoff and Charlies Bunion. We’ll then hike the Appalachian Trail up to Clingmans Dome for sweeping aerial views of both North Carolina and Tennessee.
Days 11-12: Raft the French Broad River and Trip End
We’ll drive north of Asheville to raft on the French Broad River with professional guides. We’ll enjoy class II and III whitewater rapids. On our final day together, we’ll have dinner to celebrate two weeks of friendship, fun and adventure in the Blue Ridge.
9 nights of frontcountry camping. Campground facilities will vary and may include flush toilets, showers and/or laundry.
3 nights in cabins with bunk beds, bathroom and showers. Itinerary may vary by group and is subject to change.
- Medium-Sized Duffel Bag or Backpack
3,000-5,000 cubic inch (50-80 liters) duffel bag or backpack.
- Navy Overland T-Shirt (1)
We will send every student an Overland T-shirt prior to the trip. Please wear this T-shirt to trip start.
- T-Shirt (3)
- Lightweight Long-Sleeve T-Shirt (2)
- Synthetic Shorts (3)
- Synthetic Long Underwear Top & Bottom (1)
- Fleece Pants (1)
Please do not bring cotton sweatpants (they are heavy and bulky and will not keep you warm if wet).
- Underwear (6)
- Athletic Socks (6)
- Swimsuit (1)
- Hat with Visor (1)
- Winter Hat (1)
- Gloves or Mittens (1)
- Pajamas (optional)
Students sometimes prefer to sleep in shorts and a T-shirt instead of bringing pajamas.
- Waterproof Raincoat (1)
- Waterproof Rain Pants (1)
- Fleece Jacket or Pullover (1)
- 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 30 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
¾-length or full-length closed cell foam (thin and firm) or self-inflating.
- Flashlight or Headlamp
- 1-Liter Water Bottle
- 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).
Comfortable shoes with good traction.
- Water Shoes
Closed-toed sport sandals, water shoes or old sneakers to wear on the water.
- Synthetic Camping Towel
A medium-size synthetic camping towel (synthetic camping towels dry much faster than regular towels).
- Travel Size Toiletries
- Sunscreen (SPF 15+) & Chapstick (with SPF protection)
- Insect Repellent
- Pillow (optional)
Compact, travel-size pillow recommended.
- Camera, Charger & Extra Batteries (optional)
A digital or disposable camera.
- Personal Journal or Book (optional)
- Health Insurance Card
Please bring an original or copy of your health insurance card.
- Photo Identification
If you are not flying: Overland does not require photo identification. If you are flying within the U.S.: The TSA website has two relevant pieces of information. (1) “TSA does not require children under 18 to provide identification when traveling with a companion within the United States.” This language indicates that TSA staff can insist that an under-18 year old who does not have a companion (we interpret this as a companion who is 18 or over traveling with them—not just checking them in) must have TSA-compliant identification. Our experience is that this requirement is inconsistently enforced but, since it might be enforced, we recommend that all Overland students who are flying to/from their trip have TSA-compliant identification. (2) “Contact the airline for questions regarding specific ID requirements for travelers under 18.” This is always smart to do as airline policies vary widely and change frequently.
- Spending Money & Miscellaneous Expenses (optional)
Each student should bring a debit card, an ATM card or a prepaid Visa card to cover spending money and miscellaneous expenses. Spending Money: While all meals and activities are included in the trip fee, we recommend $25/week for spending money (for example: for souvenirs or an occasional drink or snack beyond what is provided to the group as a whole). Miscellaneous Expenses: Most Overland students will incur some expenses while traveling (for example: an equipment repair or baggage fees at trip end). Please add $100 to the debit/ATM/Visa card (in addition to spending money), to cover these expenses.
Things to know
- We travel light at Overland; please only bring the items on your packing list.
- Your group will have access to laundry periodically.
- Please do not bring your smart phone (or any other electronics).
Please visit the FAQ tab 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, carry your sleeping bag and sleeping pad with you in case your checked luggage fails to arrive on time.
- There are no reimbursements for lost, damaged or stolen items.
Please schedule expensive items—phones, cameras, bicycles, etc.—on your homeowners insurance policy.
- What is the weather like on Blue Ridge Adventure?
You can expect typical summery weather with lots of sunshine, some rain, warm days and cool nights.
- What are the arrival and departure airports for my child's trip?
You will need to arrange transportation for your child to and from Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) at trip start and trip end. We will provide more specific travel information once we have placed your child on a trip.
- How often will my child have access to showers and laundry?
Nearly every day, and most students shower regularly. Groups will do laundry once a week.
- 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 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 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 (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.
When we receive your application, if your first choice is available, we will: (1) call you to acknowledge our receipt of your application, (2) send you an email with a link to our Admissions Review Forms, and (3) charge a deposit of $795 to your credit card to hold your place in the trip pending a favorable admissions review. If your first choice is not available, we will call you to discuss your second choice, third choice or other options. For more information, and to access our application, please visit our Apply page.
- 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 Overland, please do not send an expensive smartphone, instead, an inexpensive prepaid cell phone will do. All phones will be collected on arrival and returned at departure. While we will take reasonable steps to prevent damage, theft or loss, 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 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 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 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 then sent back. For this same reason, please do not send mail that requires a signature upon delivery.
4. Please allow one week for postal delivery to U.S. mail stops.
5. Please allow two weeks for postal delivery to international mail stops.
Hike, kayak and raft in North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains!
Students going on Blue Ridge Adventure should prepare for:
- Full days of active exploration
- Camping and preparing meals outdoors
- A fun, supportive and wholesome Overland experience
We expect you to arrive to your trip fully prepared for all activities.
Preparing for an Overland Experience
Each of our introductory trips is a carefully crafted experience with activities that are finely-tuned for this age group. The day hikes are chosen with care so that our students can enjoy hiking while developing skills and fitness. The group is ably led by two caring Overland leaders who make sure that each student has water, snacks and lunch, a hat, sunscreen and a raincoat before the group sets out for the day. Once on the trail, there are stories and songs, and once at the destination—a viewpoint or mountaintop, there are cheers and hugs.
To be ready for an Overland introductory trip, each of our students should stay active and fit during the school year, and once the trip starts, they should be eager to try new things and make new friends.