Unwrapping Adventure: Five Things that Come with the Gift of WAEL this Year

Have you ever wrapped a gift for your son or daughter, anticipating the joy on their faces when they realize what you got for them?  You put care into selecting something that is just right, and when the moment arrives you eagerly watch as they tear through the wrapping paper!  You were right!  His face lights up and "Thanks Mom!" comes gleefully out of his mouth as he's already unboxing it and he starts to examine his new possession.  Good job, Go You!

It may be a video game, or set of paints, or even an awesome board game he could play with his friends.  That present itself will last days, months, sometimes years, but it's the intangible part of the present that he'll keep forever.  The joy of that gift begins the moment he opens it and grows as it becomes part of his life.  Every moment with it is a new memory influencing who he will become and each of those moments are tied to you as the one who gave it to him.

When you're selecting a gift this year for your son or daughter, think of the long-lasting part of that gift.  Your child is growing up and the presents you choose for him can help to shape his future just as much as it can spark joy when he first opens it.

Wilderness Adventure wants you to give the gift of adventure this season, and here's just 5 of the many long-lasting things that come with an Adventure Camp gift:


1. Adventure

Adventure is more than just a genre of your child's favorite movie or a trending hashtag on Instagram.  Adventure is stepping out of the ordinary, forging beyond the life he knows, and discovering new truths about himself, others, and his environment.  Adventure comes with curiosity and sense of fun.  Adventures come with challenges and set-backs just as much as they come with triumphs and celebrations.  When an expedition at WA comes to a close, it's not what he did or where he went but how he got from start to finish that will define his adventure.  And each adventure we take, opens our minds to the next!

Ideal Adventures:

  • Classic Adventure -7 days ages 10-11. 12,-13, and 14-17 This is the high-energy sprint to give your adventurer the best of our program.  With only 7 days, each day is an adventure in itself, they may start the morning in a cave or mountain biking and finish it sliding down a natural water slide or finishing a gratifying hike.  So many of our returners learned what it was they love about the outdoors in the one-week Classic'.
  • Classic Adventure -14 days ages 10-11, 12-13, and 14-17 This is the whole enchilada: everything we do, we do all the way through.  Biking, canoeing and hiking are more than a daily burst of activity, they are a means of getting to the next campsite, and progressing further in the trip.  Some of the greatest friendships are forged in the two-week Classic'.

2. Strength

When faced with the weighty challenges of growing up, whether it's overcoming bad grades; learning how to interact with others; or understanding his or her own self-image, the integrity of your child's own strength will help him or her succeed.  The activities we do are chosen because they require strength- both mental and physical.  A triumph on the rock or on the mountain sets them up for triumphs in school, sports, social lives, and any other arena where they will express themselves.  When faced with these challenges, often participants discover they are stronger than they thought.

Ideal trips for Strength:

  • Rock, Roll & Flow- 14 days ages 14-17 This trip is all about using muscles and making strong decisions, whether climbing, mountain biking, or paddling success will come from the strength of your child's effort.  Each participant is challenged at their level in each of the sports and encouraged to truly test their abilities and discover how it feels to grow stronger.
  • Rock Climb Trip- 7 days ages 14-17 This program is specifically about becoming a stronger climber.  Each day they get on the rock, participants see their ability grow and the technique come easier supported by their own new strengths-mental and physical.  

3. Focus

Maybe one of the largest challenges we face in our highly-connected worlds, is learning to focus on what's truly important.  There may be a lot of excitement and changing landscapes in the course of one of our expeditions, but there are very few distractions.  We leave our screens and internet connections behind for the entirety of every trip so participants can focus on enjoying the world right in front of them: their surroundings, each other, and themselves without all the ties to Facebook and Twitter feeds.  Once participants have experienced this level of focus, it's easier for them to apply it in other areas of their off-trail lives, like doing homework and taking care of their day-to-day tasks well.  

A good trip for Focus:

  • Mountain Bike Trip -7 days ages 14-17 If you've ever biked on trails before you, you know there's a different mentality between that and biking on the wide-open smooth road.  This trip is all about safely honing the skills and focus to become a better mountain biker.

4. Confidence

The desire to do something and the drive to go for it are different.  Confidence is the difference between potential and success in most of your child's dreams.  Each of us builds confidence on our own.   This is why we believe that not only does accomplishing a goal build confidence, but that choosing that goal for themselves has the most positive impact on our participants' sense of self-reliance.  This is why we are a "Challenge by Choice" program.  This is also why our participants carry all their own supplies in their backpacks, why they set up their own tents and prepare their own meals.  Everything participants gain from an expedition at WA, comes to them by their own efforts. 

A good expedition for Confidence:

  • Go With the Flow -14 days ages 14-17 This expedition is a true journey in which participants make their ways downstream -under their own steam, paddling canoes, sea kayaks and white water kayaks- over many miles of river.  Not only do they cover a lot of water, but they also become confident river readers and have the chance to make their own judgments on safe and exciting lines through rapids and river features.

5. Teamwork

We rely on others for everything from the businesses that produce our food, to teachers who instruct us, to the friends we confide in and the family who supports us.  Knowing how to work with others is fundamental to being successful on our own.  Communicating, listening, learning from each other, and being comfortable with peers can be a great challenge for a lot of pre-teens and teenagers.  Those who spend time learning how to engage and work with others become the best leaders: team captains, student council presidents, and self-confident individuals who can be a positive influence on others.  Each of our trips is designed to build a unique sense of teamwork and positive camaraderie.  The bonds participants form at WAEL are special; and so are those they form when they return home with the teamwork skills they develop here

Great programs for Teamwork:

  • Wilderness Leadership Course -21 days ages 14-17  This trip is more than an Adventure Camp, it is an instructional expedition for those participants who want to become better leaders in the outdoors.  When they have finished the first section of the program (including a class on group dynamics and leadership styles), they will then take over as Leaders of the Day and guide their group through their expedition learning and practicing ways to get the most of their team.  
  • Outdoor Discovery Program -7 days ages 8-10  At the important ages of 8, 9, and 10, we become aware of others as individuals.  It's a challenging time for kids, and the Outdoor Discovery Program helps participants learn positive ways to interact, solve problems, and get to know other participants when those vital thought processes are beginning to form.  

With any occasion you may be celebrating this year, we hope you will consider a present that leaves a lasting impression.  For more information about our summer camp, visit the Adventure Camp page.  To talk with one of our directors or leaders about a trip for your son or daughter, call 540-864-6792.

We are currently offering 30% OFF all trips, if you register and pay in full, & 25% OFF all trips, if you register with a deposit by December 15, 2015! 

Bed & Breakfast 1/2 off Special!


With the holidays coming up and all the excitement & hub-bub, why not plan a relaxing get-away with someone special for a week-end in January or February?  Or are you looking for the ideal gift for your favorite couple?

The half-price voucher for a 2 night, 2 breakfast reservation for 2 is just $130 and will be available for purchase until 11:59 PM on December 24th.  

Included in the voucher

- 2 nights lodging in a cozy room in either our Main or Sly Lodge.

- Use of our lodge's common area: fire, TV, wraparound porch, game chest, & cozy board room (with a second fire place!)

- A delicious breakfast served each morning at our Main Lodge

- Use of our Base Camp's many trails, disc golf course, Gazebo, and sauna!


Available add-ons include

- A bottle of wine and two keep-sake WA wine glasses in your room when you arrive.

- A cheese & charcuterie spread delivered to your room.

- Use of Sneaky Cabin: a private cabin with a full bathroom, kitchenette with coffee maker, mini fridge, toaster, and sink, cozy gas logs, a master bedroom, and a loft space full of bunks.

The fine print:

  • Vouchers can only be used on weekends (Fri-Sun) in January or February 2016, subject to availability.
  • Must be purchased by 11:59 pm on December 24, 2015 to receive the half-price discount.
  • Vouchers are non-returnable nor refundable, but in the even that you can't use it within the two months, it may be transferred as a credit on a future stay at Wilderness Adventure!

Any questions?  Call us! 540-864-6792


3 Reasons an Outdoor Adventure is Great for Kids!

WILD WEDNESDAY:  This week, Fain Atkins, our Group Program Coordinator writes about something close to the heart of our program: Kids Outdoors.  Enjoy!

Kids need opportunities to explore experiment, expand, influence, change, discover, practice, push their limits, express their feelings and just be themselves. Here is a list of why an outdoor adventure may just be the best thing to achieve all of that and more!


3 Reasons an Outdoor Adventure is Pretty Great for Kids


1. Develops physical health

This first one is probably the most obvious but that doesn't make it any less important. Being physically active for a technologically hounded generation with vast amounts of screen time is so important. Kids must develop great motor and small motor skills and cardiovascular endurance. Backpacking is a great way to do this. In addition to physical activity, just the mere fact of being outside in sunlight and getting dirty actually aids in good physical health. For example, dirt is actually beneficial to kids. Don't believe me? Well, I just read a pretty convincing article on dirt that told me so.

2.     Grows appreciation of the Outdoors

In this day and age, we are more aware than ever that taking care of the planet we live on is vitally important. Being a consumer just isn't going to cut it if we want the other non-human life we interact with on a daily basis to thrive in harmony for the future to come. Want your kids to get a grasp on this? Nothing is better than a first hand experience than living for a time outside, if even for just a day or two. At WAEL, we teach Leave No Trace (LNT) ethics which is a set of outdoor ethics promoting conservation in the outdoors. It is built on seven principles: Plan ahead and prepare, travel and camp on durable surfaces, dispose of waste properly, leave what you find, minimize campfire impacts, respect wildlife, and be considerate of other visitors.

3.Improves Brainpower

Research shows that kids who engage in outdoor activities actually have longer attention spans, more frustration tolerance, and do better in school. Kids even do better on tests if allowed to play first. It's not just that it gets their wiggles out. It's all that oxygen to the brain. Not only that but it helps kids with specialized needs, from problems with focus to behavioral issues. Outdoor play is often used in therapy with much success. This article will back me up.


Although coming to WAEL is an awesome experience, outdoor adventures do not have to be a big production. If you're lucky enough to have your own yard, you have unlimited options, from kicking a ball around to camping out in a tent. Every city has public parks, and every family can find something to do outside that feels fun. If you still have doubts about why an outdoor adventure may not be good for the kids in your life (or “you” if you're blessed to still be a kid) then you should probably re-read this article or just research it for yourself by heading outside!