Nam Pha Pa Yai Climbers Camp

Please enjoy this blog entry from two of our senior staff on their winter travels.  One of the benefits of being on staff is the chance to travel in the less-busy months.  Austin Bunn and Robyn Martin have seized this opportunity with gusto and have been venturing through Thailand, Vietnam and other parts of Southeast Asia since November.  The following entry is dated 2/22-25/16.

We have been here at Nam Pha Pa Yai for four days now and have climbed everyday. Nam PhaPa Yai translates to “river camp big forest”. In total, we have climbed 28 pitches and 24 different routes. We have climbed at three of the four crags here with two of them being by the Pasak river and the other one in a bamboo forest near the camp. 

Each morning, our day starts off with lots of stretching and chilling out before breakfast is severed at 8am. Once done with breakfast, we head off to the crags. This means grabbing our climbing gear and a zip line pulley before heading down to the rivers edge. Once there, we climb into a wooden platform attached to a tree high above the river and attach ourselves to a cable that stretches from one bank to the other. ZOOOMMM!!! Off you go, zipping across the beautiful Pasak river to the other side where a wall of beautiful limestone awaits you.

By noon or shortly after, we head back to the other side for lunch. This again means another zip line experience across the river. I enjoy having to go back and forth for climbing and camp visits as I really enjoy zip lining. Robyn, who before this place really did not care for zip lining at all, has found a way to somewhat enjoy it. As you approach the take off areas for your zip you always pass this sign that says “Do Not use the Zip Line for FUN!” I cant help but laugh at this, as each time is always fun. Sometimes, I even find myself forgetting things or needing to use the toilet just so I can zip line one extra time during the day. 

After lunch, we usually take a long break to let the hot part of the day pass. During this time, we play board games, read, chat, or play with the camp dogs.There is a puppy here that both Robyn and I love and kinda want to take with us for the rest of our travels. In the afternoon, we manage to get in a few more climbs before either the heat gets to us or the sun starts to make its way over the edge of the cliffs. 

Night time is my favorite here. It starts with a nice cool shower after hanging up the sweaty gear by our tent. This is usually followed by some down time to either read, play cards, internet, or chat with the only other camper here besides us. Gerald is an older fellow from Germany. He has been biking his way through Southeast Asia as well as climbing. Being such a strong climber, we enjoy having him join us each day because if we can not put up a route, he usually is willing and able.

Night time also means dinner which is my favorite here. Joy’s (camp host) mother cooks dinner every night which always consist of rice and usually some type of curry. Man is it sooo good! Not only is it unbelievably good, it is buffet style, all you can eat! Being only three of us, means we can eat until we simply can not fit anymore into our bodies. This truly is a climbers’ dream. Being on the rock all day you burn an amazing amount of calories. 

Tomorrow is our last full day here before heading off to Chiang Mai. We leave around 8pm to the near by town and catch an eight hour long night bus. This means we have one more day to enjoy here climbing and eating wonderful food. Robyn and I are planning on getting on the only multi-pitch here which takes you to the top of the cliff overlooking the river valley. 

We are both looking forward to some “tourist” time in Chiang Mai and Pai, as our bodies are both in need of some rest from climbing. Im sure there will be stories to be told so keep checking in! 


Austin & Robyn are two of our year-round staff members as well as Climbing Instructors.  Robyn hails from New York and in addition to climbing and travelling, she's an avid mountain biker and serves as our Bike Barn Manager.  Austin is from South Carolina and adds to his many outdoor interests an affinity for white water kayaking and is our Base Camp Manager.

To read more about their off-season adventure check out their blog: "The Plunge."  The two have been travelling across southeast Asia and climbing where ever they can!  

To Austin & Robyn, hope the adventures are many and the laughs hearty!  Stay safe and see you when you get back!  

 Access to the climb

Access to the climb

 Our new "Best Friend"

Our new "Best Friend"

 Hanging up sweaty gear

Hanging up sweaty gear

 Austin leading a 6a  (Sadao)

Austin leading a 6a  (Sadao)

Kait PrairieComment
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 15th!

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


Kait PrairieComment