Learning a new language, really learning it, requires time, effort and fun.
That’s right, fun. And not just fun in the classroom—stories and songs and games—but fun outside of the classroom—more stories and songs and games . . . and exploration and adventures, too.
In the classroom, we’re led by native speakers: experienced teachers with a thorough curriculum and an understanding that what we really want to gain is a knowledge of and an enthusiasm for all things Spanish—the beautiful language, the rich culture, the gorgeous countryside.
Outside the classroom, we’re led by a pair of dynamic Overland leaders. Enthusiastic and energetic, your Overland leaders will lead you on hikes out of the villages and up into the mountains. Great hiking and great camaraderie every afternoon . . . and on the weekends, too.
Imagine a summer filled with fun and friends, language and exploration. Imagine yourself in the Pyrenees with us as you discover the beauty and variety of Spain.
Language & Hiking Spain was a truly amazing experience that left me in awe. I will forever miss my friends and the outstanding views of wonderful Spain. The classes improved my Spanish.
- Zoe Astruc, Richmond, Virginia
Day 1: Trip Start in Barcelona
We’ll meet in Barcelona and spend the day getting to know each other before making our way to the Pyrenees, our home for the next three weeks.
Days 2-6: Language Class, Hikes & Exploration in Torla
The following day we’ll head to Torla, a small village situated along the Rio Ara in the Ordesa Valley. We will meet our Spanish teachers and tour the village, getting an introduction to the language, culture and history of the area. In the mornings, we will attend Spanish class. Interactive and fun, classes will emphasize speaking skills and cover grammar and vocabulary. One class will take us to a nearby farm where we’ll spend time with local goat farmers and learn how to make cheese. In the afternoons, we’ll hike in the Ordesa Valley, passing waterfalls, rolling green meadows and an abandoned village. The hikes will start small and build to our first weekend excursion.
Days 7 & 8: Weekend Hiking Trip in Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park
On the weekend, we’ll take a break from classes to explore the mountains. We’ll hike through the deep canyons of Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park—reaching about 7,000 feet—where we’ll spend the night at a mountain hut. The next morning, we’ll explore the dramatic glacier-carved landscape around the hut before hiking back to Torla, admiring the canyon’s high walls and waterfalls along the way.
Days 9-13: Language Class, Hikes & Exploration in the Tena Valley
Next, we’ll head to the beautiful Tena Valley, our home base for the second half of the trip. We’ll continue to hone our language skills through morning classes and explore the valley by foot every afternoon. For two days, Spanish class will take the form of a guided excursion. We’ll hike with our teachers to villages and monasteries dating back to the Middle Ages. On these trips, Spanish language learning through a lens of local history and culture is the focus. Each afternoon hike offers something different—a new view, landscape and opportunity to tackle a challenge and grow as a group.
Days 14 & 15: Weekend Hiking Trip in the Tena Valley
On our second weekend, we’ll head out for another excursion in the mountains. We’ll spend a full day hiking to a mountain hut situated on the edge of a gorgeous alpine reservoir—just a stone’s throw from the French border. The following day, we’ll explore the rocky landscape around the hut before returning to our accommodations in the heart of the Tena Valley.
Days 16-18: Language Class, Hikes & Exploration in the Tena Valley
For our final days together in the Pyrenees, we’ll resume our normal weekday schedule and continue to explore, hike and build confidence in the Spanish language through activities. As a final challenge, we’ll hike to a nearby summit for spectacular panoramic views. From this spot, we will view all of the places we’ve visited over the past week and reflect on our time spent discovering the beauty of the Spanish Pyrenees.
Days 19 & 20: Trip End
On our last full day together in Spain, we’ll return to Barcelona for our final dinner, where we’ll celebrate three incredible weeks of fun, friendship and accomplishment.
15 nights in private group accommodations in the Pyrenees with private group rooms.
2 nights in alpine huts with toilets, sleeping bunks and no showers.
2 nights in a hostel in Barcelona with private group rooms.
Things to know
- We travel light on Overland trips; please only bring items on your packing list.
- Your group will have access to laundry periodically.
- Please do not bring any electronics (including your cell phone). See FAQs 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).
- Pack everything in your backpack or day pack. Do not bring additional luggage.
- Linens and pillows are provided at most group accommodations. Students should bring a sleeping bag liner to use on weekend trips to mountain lodges.
- There are no reimbursements for lost, damaged or stolen items.
- Please wear the navy Overland shirt that you will receive from the Overland office to your trip start location.
- Medium-Sized Duffel Bag or Backpack
3,000-5,000 cubic inch (50-80 liters) backpack or duffel bag.
- Navy Overland Shirt (1)
We will send students an Overland shirt prior to their trip, and we encourage students to wear their Overland shirt to trip start. We highly recommend this for students flying to their trip start location.
- Synthetic Hiking Pants (1)
Lightweight and quick dry material. Non-cotton warmup style pants are acceptable.
- Fleece Pants (1)
Please do not bring cotton sweatpants (they are heavy and bulky and will not keep you warm if wet).
- Synthetic Long Underwear Top & Bottom (1)
- Synthetic Shorts (3)
- Synthetic T-Shirt (4)
Short-sleeve T-shirt or tank top.
- T-Shirt (1)
Short-sleeve T-shirt or tank top.
- Underwear (7)
- Wool and/or Synthetic Socks (4)
- Athletic Socks (pair) (2)
- Casual Dress Outfit
Appropriate for dining out with your group. For boys, khaki pants or shorts and a casual, nice shirt. For girls, a skirt or dress. Do not bring an extra pair of shoes for this outfit.
- Winter Hat
- Gloves or Mittens (pair)
To stay warm in camp on cool nights.
- Neck Gaiter or Buff (optional)
To protect the neck and face from the elements
- Pajamas (optional)
Students sometimes prefer to sleep in shorts and a T-shirt instead of bringing pajamas.
- Hat with Visor (optional)
For protection from the sun. Baseball hats are acceptable.
- Fleece Jacket or Pullover
Medium to heavyweight and reasonably compact.
- Packable Synthetic or Down Jacket
Lightweight, compressible, synthetic (Primaloft or similar) or down jacket. Full zip or 1/4 zip are acceptable.
- Waterproof Raincoat
Waterproof material required (not just water resistant). Rain coats provide protection from wind and rain and serve as an extra warm layer. Your jacket should be large enough to allow layers underneath. We recommend hoods and breathable materials. Gore-Tex is a well-known waterproof and breathable fabric but there are many other quality fabrics. Ponchos are not acceptable.
- Waterproof Rain Pants
Waterproof material required (not just water resistant). Rain pants provide protection from wind and rain and serve as an extra warm layer.
- 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). The pack must be between 20 and 30 liters in capacity.
- Sleeping Bag Liner
Linens and pillows are provided at most group accommodations; however, students should bring a sleeping bag liner to use on weekend trips to mountain lodges. We recommend either synthetic or down material. Your sleeping bag liner should fit in your fully-packed day pack.
- Headlamp & Extra Batteries
- Water Bottle
One 1-liter bottle (a smaller size is acceptable).
- Waterproof Hiking Boots
Hiking boots that are low to high cut, depending on your desired ankle support. Choose comfortable boots and make sure to break them in before the start of your trip.
- Sneakers (pair)
Comfortable shoes to wear on daily activities. Shoes should be supportive and have a good tread on the bottom for traction.
- Sandals (pair) (optional)
Flip flops or Crocs work well
A passport that is valid until at least six months after your trip end date
- Passport Photocopies
Make at least four photocopies of your passport and visa (if applicable). Leave one copy with your family and put photocopies in both your checked luggage and carry-on luggage for the flight, separate from your original documents.
- Unaccompanied Minor Fee Receipt (if applicable)
For students travelling as Unaccompanied Minors, please print a copy of the UAM fee receipt for your child's leaders to keep on file.
- Baggage Fee Receipt (if applicable)
Some airlines allow passengers to input credit card information to cover checked bag service charges when checking in online prior to the trip. To reduce hassle at the airport, we encourage you to pay for checked baggage beforehand and supply your child with a copy of the receipt for his or her leaders to keep on file.
- Synthetic Camping Towel
A medium-size synthetic camping towel (synthetic camping towels dry much faster than regular towels).
All items should be travel size (if necessary, you will be able to restock during the trip).
- Sunscreen (SPF 15+) & Chapstick (with SPF protection)
- Insect Repellent
Polarized sunglasses that wrap around to protect from glare are ideal.
- Package of Moleskin or Molefoam
To protect your feet from blisters.
- Gallon Sized Ziploc Bags (5)
To organize and waterproof your gear and small items.
- Spending Money
$50 per week in local currency or a debit/ATM card (please notify your bank of international travel before trip start).
- Spanish-English Dictionary
Travel-sized to use in class and around town.
- Notebook & Pen
To use in class.
- Personal Journal or Book (optional)
- Camera, Charger & Extra Batteries (optional)
A digital or disposable camera and, if necessary, a charger and large enough memory card to accommodate your pictures (4 to 8 GB).
- Health Insurance Card
Please bring an original or copy of your health insurance card.
- Is the language level appropriate for my child’s language experience?
We require that your child arrives with at least one year of classroom instruction in Spanish or equivalent experience (time spent studying abroad). Overland groups are divided into smaller language classes upon arrival. Classes focus on speaking and listening comprehension and accommodate varying levels of language abilities.
- Is this a language immersion program?
No. All of Overland's language programs require dedication to learning a language and appreciating a new culture. Although there is not a language pledge, classes are conducted exclusively in Spanish, and leaders will engage the group in Spanish outside of the classroom for approximately two hours per day.
- What are the teachers like?
Overland partners with a language school in the Pyrenees with professional Spanish teachers who create lesson plans to engage our groups. The teachers speak Spanish as their primary language. Overland leaders will sit in on classes, but the professional teachers are responsible for classroom language instruction during the program.
- Does my child need to have previous international or group travel 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 program 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.
- What is the weather like on Language & Hiking Spain?
The weather on Language & Hiking Spain varies. Sometimes it is sunny and warm, other times it is rainy and cold; typical summer temperatures in the Pyrenees range from the 60s to 80s during the day and cooler at night. Our packing list takes these variables into consideration. Layering is the best strategy. Please follow the packing list, paying close attention to rain gear specifications.
- What are the arrival and departure airports for my child’s trip?
You will need to arrange transportation for your child to and from Barcelona-El Prat Airport (BCN) at trip start and trip end. We will provide more specific travel information once we have placed your child on a program.
- Please tell me about the currency on this trip.
Spain uses the Euro (€). Some US banks may be able to order Euros. Students can also exchange money in airports throughout the US, or leaders can help students withdraw Euros using a debit card or exchange US dollars upon arrival in Spain.
- 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 and other 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.
- Please tell me about Overland's admissions process.
For more information, and to access our application, please visit our Apply page.
When we receive child’s application, if the first choice is available, you will receive a phone call and an email containing a link to our Overland Portal where you will find our Admissions Review Forms. We will accept your deposit to hold your child’s place in the program pending a favorable Admissions Review. If the first choice is not available, we will call you to confirm that the second choice is acceptable. If neither the first choice nor second choice are available, we will call you to discuss options. For those students placed on our waitlist, we will notify you as soon as a spot becomes available.
We seek to admit students who have demonstrated that they possess the personal qualities and experience necessary to succeed on an Overland trip. While Overland is always supportive and nurturing, an Overland program is unlike a traditional camp in that our small groups–12 students and 2 leaders–travel, live and work as a group, making all of their own meals, helping each other and cooperating in ways big and small, and they do all of this far from home. As a result, every student must be able to thrive in an environment that places equal emphasis on:
- 1. Teamwork and Shared Responsibilities.
- 2. Independence and Self-Reliance.
- 3. Support of Others and Consideration for Others.
- 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 (the exceptions to this are: 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 him or her with an expensive smartphone; instead bring an inexpensive prepaid cell phone. 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).
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 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 my child get school credit for the language program?
You should check with your child’s school about whether or not Overland’s language programs fulfill their requirements. The approximate number of hours of language instruction are listed in the sidebar.
Improve your Spanish, hike in the Pyrenees Mountains and experience Spanish culture.
Students going on Language & Hiking Spain should prepare for:
- 15 days of hiking with an average of 5 miles per day
- 12 days of Spanish class for 4 hours each day
- Traveling internationally
- Travel to and from the trip
- An Overland experience
We expect you to arrive to your trip fully prepared for all activities.
Preparing for Hiking
On Language & Hiking Spain, you should be prepared for day hikes in the Pyrenees Mountains on well-established trails through alpine environments. The terrain of the Pyrenees ranges from gentle and rolling to steep and rocky and can be challenging at times. You may reach an elevation higher than 8,000 feet for portions of the hikes in the Pyrenees.
Before your trip, we strongly advise you spend time breaking-in and adjusting to your hiking boots. We expect you to prepare adequately so you can keep up physically and participate in all of your group's activities. Please follow our guidelines as you prepare for your program.
- 5 weeks before your trip: wear your boots for 15-30 minutes a day. Walk around your house or neighborhood so your boots begin to conform to your feet.
- 4 weeks before your trip: take three 30-minute hikes or walks in your boots.
- 3 weeks before your trip: take three 1-hour hikes or walks in your boots.
- 2 weeks before your trip: take three 1-hour hikes or walks in your boots with a backpack loaded with 10% of your body weight.
- 1 week before your trip: take two 2-hour hikes or walks in your boots with a backpack loaded with 10% of your body weight.
Groups typically take multiple breaks throughout the day while hiking—for water, snacks, lunch, to adjust packs, etc.
Preparing for Class
Overland's language programs require dedication to learning a language and enthusiasm about experiencing a new culture. Your classes will be conducted exclusively in Spanish and you will speak Spanish outside of class for approximately two hours per day. Your group will be divided into smaller language classes upon arrival; the classes will focus on speaking and listening comprehension in order to accommodate a range of skill levels. We require you arrive with at least one year of classroom instruction, or the equivalent experience (time spent studying abroad, for example), in Spanish.
Preparing for International Travel
International travel requires extensive planning and preparation. You must have a valid passport and an understanding of the necessary visas and travel vaccinations and medications if applicable.
Overland provides step-by-step instructions to enrolled students regarding international travel preparation. More information is also available in the FAQs.
Preparing for Travel to and from the Trip
Families are responsible for arranging flights to and from the designated airport during a specified window (please do not purchase flights until you have received an email confirming our review of your health forms and school reference). Overland staff will be at the airport to welcome you at the start of your trip and to assist with your departure at trip end. You will call home upon arrival and before departure. You may also be dropped off at the airport, or in Williamstown (depending on your program’s start and end locations). More information regarding travel to and from your trip will be provided with the admissions review forms upon applying.
Preparing for an Overland Experience
Overland programs are wholesome, structured experiences with high expectations of each student’s behavior. You are expected to be supportive of your trip mates and your leaders, enthusiastic, positive and helpful. We ask that you leave your cell phone and electronics at home (cameras are always welcome), so you can fully engage with your group and your trip. You will have the opportunity to send letters and receive mail at designated mail stops, which are shared in the spring.
Arriving ready for a challenge, eager to experience new activities and prepared to contribute to an enthusiastic group will go a long way toward creating a successful trip. Please contact us if you’d like to discuss preparing for your Overland program.