Two unforgettable weeks out West.
We’ll gather in San Francisco, then head east to spectacular Lake Tahoe, where we’ll kayak pristine Emerald Bay and hike high above the lake through stands of fragrant pine and past the last of the winter’s snow.
After our time in Tahoe, we’ll enjoy a day of rafting on the American River—splashing and laughing our way down the river with professional guides at the helm.
To wrap up our time in the Sierras, we’ll travel to Yosemite to take on more challenging hikes. We can expect warm, sunny days and clear, cool nights—as nice as it gets for hiking and camping.
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 group of adventurous peers guided by two caring, capable Overland leaders. All of the trip’s activities have been carefully chosen to suit 4th, 5th and 6th graders—it’s a great way to experience Overland.
I am impressed with Overland’s logistics and leader training. These support structures are crucial to my comfort. Both of my daughters had a fabulous time.
- Sarah Snell, Rye, New York
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 2-5: 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 Emerald Bay with professional guides. From the water, we’ll soak in views of Lake Tahoe and the surrounding mountains.
Day 6: 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 7-11: 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.
11 nights of frontcountry camping. Campground facilities will vary and may include flush toilets, showers and/or laundry.
1 night in a hostel near San Francisco. The hostel is a dormitory style accommodation with beds, showers and laundry facilities. The rooms are divided by gender. Itinerary may vary by group and is subject to change.
We travel light at Overland.
- 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).
- 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
- 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).
- 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
- We travel light at Overland; please only bring the items on this 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, 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.
Questions? Call us: 413.458.9672.
- What is the weather like on Sierra 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 Sierra Adventure?
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 often will my son or daughter have access to showers and laundry?
Nearly every day, and most students shower regularly. Groups will do laundry once a week.
- What do you do about bears?
Traveling as a large group goes a long way in preventing unwanted attention from wildlife. In addition, we hike in well-traveled areas and train all of our staff in backcountry skills and awareness. We instruct our leaders how to set up camp and store food in ways that reduce the chances of attracting wildlife, including bears. We’ll brief students on these routines at the start of the trip. Both of our leaders also carry bear spray in case of an emergency.
- 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 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 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 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 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, 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.