We Welcome Your Application to Join Us!
We build each of our groups with care, keeping the groups small (no more than twelve students), and paying close attention to age, grade, gender, and the mix of hometowns and schools. Our goal is to put together great groups — groups where nice kids thrive in a supportive, wholesome, and caring environment. Please note: availability as shown is based on students traveling without a friend; if your child is interested in traveling with a friend, please call our office for availability.
Important Information about Availability
This departure of this trip has good availability. Apply as soon as possible since availability changes quickly.
This departure of this trip has limited availability. Apply as soon as possible, and on receipt of your application, if space is still available, we’ll confirm a spot for you. If all of the spots are taken, we’ll call you to discuss options.
This departure of this trip is currently full — please call us to discuss options.
How to Apply
Apply online using a credit card for the $795 deposit (your card will not be charged until we confirm a spot for you). Applications are reviewed in the order in which they are received (we do not hold spots over the phone).
When to Apply
The flow of applications starts in July and peaks in January/February. Some groups fill by the December holidays, and others will have space into the late spring. Our advice? Apply as soon as possible — it only takes a few minutes — and we’ll get to work right away to find a great spot for you.
Call (413.458.9672) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org). We look forward to hearing from you.
For two unforgettable weeks full of summer adventure, hike though wildflower-filled valleys, along pristine mountain lakes, and below granite peaks in California’s Sierra high country.
Explore California’s Sierra high country.
Hike to stunning views in Yosemite National Park. Kayak the crystal-clear waters of Lake Tahoe. Raft the thrilling American River. The best of California in two weeks.
For many students, this trip will be their first time away from home. Leaving home can be hard, but we keep our days packed full of fun. Most of the day we’ll spend hiking, kayaking, or rafting. The day hikes are exhilarating — hiking to beautiful viewpoints, or rocky, arid terrain that gives way to clear lakes (perfect for swimming!) — and we make sure to stop along the way for snacks and games. The kayaking brings you along jagged shorelines and around sunny beaches. And the rafting? Well, it’s a full day of splashing and fun, perfect for beginners!
The downtime is fun, too. Guided by two kind, charismatic leaders, afternoons at our campsites — beautiful spots among fragrant stands of pines, or beside shimmering blue lakes — are spent learning about flora and fauna, making friendship bracelets, or playing frisbee. At night, we share in the responsibility of making delicious, healthy meals, and take time to gaze at the stars. No matter what we’re doing, we do it together. On Sierra Adventure, making friends is easy!
In San Francisco at trip end, we’ll celebrate all of our accomplishments, all of the fun we’ve had, and all of the friendships we’ve made in California’s rugged and beautiful mountains. Sierra Adventure offers the chance to see the West with an enthusiastic, adventurous group guided by caring, capable Overland leaders. All of the trip’s activities have been carefully chosen to suit 5th and 6th graders — it’s a great way to experience Overland.
Good Things to Know. The group is always small — no more than 12 students — and we always have carefully chosen and thoroughly prepared leaders. The itinerary is crafted to provide just the right mix of activities — the goal is to have every student love their Overland experience. The camping is in private campgrounds and state and national parks, all of which offer full facilities, including hot showers. Meals are wholesome, nutritious, and varied… and they’re fun group projects with input from everyone and lots of guidance from the leaders. Getting to and from the trip is a breeze: there are excellent flight options into San Francisco and we provide supervision on arrival and departure so that travel days go smoothly.
Embracing Our Surroundings
Teamwork & Leadership
Forming New Friendships
Need to Know
Fun, friends & adventure: the best two weeks of your summer.
Day 1: Trip Start
We’ll meet in the San Francisco International Airport. Once everyone has arrived, we’ll drive to our campground just outside San Francisco and spend the day getting to know one another, playing games, and reviewing our gear.
Days 2-7: Hike & Kayak Lake Tahoe
We’ll spend the next several days exploring the Lake Tahoe region on foot and by kayak. We’ll hike in Eldorado National Forest, exploring Lake Tahoe’s Emerald Bay, the Desolation Wilderness, and Meiss Country. When we’re not hiking, we’ll enjoy the beach, play games, and swim in the crystal-clear water. While at Lake Tahoe, we will kayak with professional guides who’ll teach us the skills we need to travel along the coastline. From the water, we’ll soak in views of Lake Tahoe and the surrounding mountains. After a day of practicing our kayaking skills, we’ll put them to the test with a sunset kayak, complete with a short astronomy lesson!
Day 8: Raft the American River
After exploring Lake Tahoe, we’ll venture west to raft the American River with professional guides. We will raft down fun, exciting rapids surrounded by beautiful scenery and friends.
Days 9-11: Hike in Yosemite National Park
After rafting on the American River, we’ll head south to Yosemite National Park. One of the oldest and most celebrated national parks, Yosemite offers a remarkable landscape of granite peaks; deep valleys; and vast, beautiful wilderness. While in Yosemite, we’ll challenge ourselves on hikes through the park’s historic and picturesque peaks, hiking alongside crystal-clear alpine lakes and colorful wildflowers to reach breathtaking views.
Days 12 & 13: San Francisco & Trip End
After conquering our challenge hike, we’ll drive back to San Francisco to celebrate two weeks of fun, friendship, and accomplishment in California’s High Sierras.
12 nights of frontcountry camping. Campground facilities will vary and may include flush toilets, showers, and/or laundry. Drought conditions in California may preclude the opening of shower facilities in some locations.
Itinerary may vary by group and is subject to change.
"My favorite part of Sierra Adventure was the challenge hike — it was rewarding and had the best views. "
"Thank you for another great trip this summer. Nolan had a great time; he enjoyed the leaders, the other campers, and all the activities. As a parent, I feel like he grew socially while he was away. Thank you for providing him a safe and fun environment to have a blast outside and grow as a person! "
Portsmouth, New Hampshire
What to PackDownload PDF
Questions about what to pack? Email our Trip Planners.
- 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 (1)
- Synthetic T-Shirt (2)
- Lightweight Long-Sleeve T-Shirt (1)
- Synthetic Shorts (3)
- Fleece Pants (1)
Please do not bring cotton sweatpants (they are heavy and bulky and will not keep you warm if wet).
- Synthetic Hiking Pants (optional)
Lightweight and quick dry material. Non-cotton warmup style pants are acceptable.
- Underwear (6)
- Athletic Socks (6)
- Swimsuit (1)
- Hat with Visor (1)
- Gloves or Mittens (1)
- Winter Hat (optional)
- Pajamas (optional)
Students sometimes prefer to sleep in shorts and a T-shirt instead of pajamas.
- Fleece Jacket or Pullover (1)
- Lightweight Synthetic or Down Jacket (1)
- Raincoat (1)
Waterproof material (e.g., Gore-Tex, or similar) is required. Your jacket should be large enough to allow layers underneath. Ponchos are not acceptable.
- 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), as long as it is comfortable to wear.
- 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 lightweight, backpacking style inflatable pad.
- Flashlight or Headlamp
- 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).
- 1-Liter Water Bottle
Comfortable shoes with good traction.
- Water Shoes
Closed-toed sport sandals, water shoes or old sneakers to wear on the water. Sandals must have a heel strap for activities such as kayaking, rafting, or canoeing (flip flops and Crocs are not acceptable).
- Waterproof Hiking Boots (optional)
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.
- 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
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
- Students should bring at least two reusable face masks on their trip. Overland will provide one additional mask.
- Your group will have access to laundry periodically.
- Please do not bring your smartphone (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, 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.
If you’re looking to purchase a backpack, fleece layers, etc., for your child, we encourage you to consider borrowing, renting, or purchasing lightly used gear. Especially for children who are still growing, using pre-owned gear can reduce both waste and cost.
Please note that some items wear out over time, and are best to purchase new (for example, a GORE-TEX raincoat). As with any gear, please make sure the items fit your child well. If you have any questions, please give us a call (413-458-9672) or email us (email@example.com).
Here are a few reliable places where you can purchase used items:
How challenging are Overland's Introductory 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: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 (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 in which each member feels welcomed and valued.
What are meals like at Overland? Can Overland accommodate allergies and intolerances?
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.
In 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:
- The applicant is placed on the applied-for trip if the applicant otherwise qualifies.
- We offer a different trip if the applicant otherwise qualifies.
- 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.
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 trips and our shorter biking 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 most of our bike 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.
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 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 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.
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 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.
Where does this trip start and end?
Your son or daughter will fly to and from San Francisco International Airport (SFO). We will provide more specific travel information once we have placed your child on a trip.
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.
What is Overland's Covid-19 policy?
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.
What is Overland's admissions process?
When we receive your application, if your first choice is available, we will:
(1) call you to thank you for your application,
(2) send you an email with a link to our enrollment forms, and
(3) charge a deposit of $795 to your credit card.
If your first choice is not available, we will call you to discuss options.
For more information, and to access our application, please visit our Apply page.
Before you Go
Hike, raft, and kayak in California’s Sierra Nevada and Lake Tahoe.
Students going on Sierra 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.
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Explore Other Trips
Overland offers introductory, hiking, biking, language, writing, service and field studies programs domestically and abroad for students in 4th through 12th grade.