Adventure Defined

July 3rd, 2013

We here at Wilderness Adventure try and put our finger on what defines adventure. We run a lot of tests and search for as much evidence as we can, but yet we still can’t get the strictest definition of adventure on paper.

Orientation Picture

Is it that moment between lost and found? Finding your way on the trail and your breath at the top of a big climb? How about the moments at night when the late sun finally drops  and your head droops from the full-day of exploring, and you climb into your sleeping bag half-asleep, knowing that another full day of fun is ahead of you?

Raider Bridge

What about the moments where you toe the line between comfort zones and everyday routine? Those few heartbeats that tell you this is real, the heartbeats that remind you that you are alive and can do amazing things.

Happy Campers

And you can’t forget about the sudden horizons that new relations can build. The rush of perspective and intrigue that meeting new people can provide. Can’t this sudden entrance of social interaction be considered adventure as well?

These are the types of questions and quandaries that we here at Wilderness Adventure try to understand everyday. What we need is your input, your ideas on adventure. So whether it is our Summer Youth Program, Custom Retreats, or Weekend Warrior activities, come on down and help us define adventure.

For information, continue reading the blog or check out the rest of the website. For any questions, give us a call anytime at 540-864-6792.

Weddings at Wilderness

July 2nd, 2013

Wilderness Adventure recently played host to a wonderful outdoor wedding for a great couple.  The ceremony took place beneath the willow by our pond, and the reception was held in the pavilion.


We always love being involved in such a special day, particularly for fellow outdoor enthusiasts!  Since all of us here tend to spend so much time in the wilderness, it’s really nice for us to have an excuse to dress ourselves up and wash off the trail dirt!

Rehersal Dinner BBQ Picnic

Rehersal Dinner BBQ Picnic


Homemade Cherry Pie

A lot of time is spent making sure our gardens are in full bloom, our lodges are spick and span and that our food service is top notch.


Tasty Appetizers

Tasty Appetizers

Pistachio Wedding Cake by the lovely Julia Boas

Pistachio Wedding Cake by the lovely Julia Boas

Reception in the Pavilion

Reception in the Pavilion


Congratulations to the happy couple and thanks again for choosing Wilderness Adventure for your wedding day!

Check our our facebook page for more photos of the wedding festivities!

Leader Profile: Rachel Karp

June 19th, 2013

Interested in knowing the leaders that will spend 24 hours of their day with your kids out on trail? Well wonder no more, this week’s leader profile is of one of our top trip leaders: Rachel Karp. Originally from “America’s Finest City” of San Diego, CA, Rachel hopped a plane out East to see what the Blue Ridge has to offer. And so far she hasn’t been disappointed.

Rachel's Bio Pic

Rachel’s been sea kayaking down the Colorado, tree admiring in the Sequoias, and grabbing some rock in Yosemite. Now she is looking forward to leading trips throughout the Jefferson and Washington National Forest. Off trail she can be found reading and writing a novel, winning cake decorating contests, and startling everyone with an infectious laugh. Her favorite part of the Blue Ridge Mountains so far? The fireflies.

For more information on our Summer Youth Program, check out the website or read more of the blog. Feel free to give us a call anytime at 540-864-6792 with any questions.

First Day of Summer

June 17th, 2013

The official date on the calender for the first day of summer may technically be June 21st, but around Wilderness Adventure, our summer has just begun. Our first Summer Youth Program trips packed their packs and hit the dusty trail yesterday, officially marking the beginning to Summer @ Wilderness Adventure 2013.

Iowa Pictures 180

We have two groups going out; an ages 8-11 Outdoor Discovery group and an ages 13-17 1-week classic adventure group. Led by some of our most capable trip leaders, the campers can expect some fun in the sun, some pristine campsites, and of course adventure at every turn. The rain last night didn’t stop them for long and now they are ready to really get started on the activities.

Iowa Pictures 200

Stay tuned the rest of summer for leader profiles, WAEL-kly Updates, and postings from your favorite camp and campers. The summer has just started, be careful not to blink and see it’s gone. It’s not to late to sign up for one of our other many trips going out this summer. For more information including dates, tuition, and further details; check out the website. Or give us a call at anytime at 540-864-6792.

A Day in the Life: Leader Log 2012

June 14th, 2013

Leader Log, June 24, 2012

I slept hard last night. And even better, I was able to wash my hair yesterday. We ended our three-day backpacking stint coming in the back way to Roaring Run. It was a bit of a slanty campsite, but the trails and water around there are awesome and so refreshing. I couldn’t think of a better way to finish our backpacking journey then by the natural water-slides Roaring Run provides. Follow that by a Leave No Trace bath in a swimming hole, and everyone was feeling fresh and re-energized. And it’s a good thing to, because today was a pretty busy day itself.

After eating breakfast at Roaring Run, John came and picked us up in the bus to head to Island Ford for a morning of exploring a cave. The cave is a really cool experience. I hope the kids realize just how amazing it is to stand in these caverns that have been created by time, to be a part of this underground world, and to get a glimpse of how beautiful and enormous this world we live in is. They should, because I mentioned it a lot (I’m a geek when it comes to the caves), but if they didn’t, I know they had a good time crawling around, seeing stalactites, and getting the cave-suits really muddy. I feel like the cave is one of the many examples of an experience that the kids really enjoy just for the fun of it, but will someday look back on it and realize just how cool and truly astonishing this shining example of the natural world is.

We spent the afternoon back at the Fenwick campsite where I’m writing this now. We had our re-supply this afternoon. Somebody bought me a soda which was very nice, and I have to admit, the little extra sugar bump treated me pretty well. And to think, our backpacks were feeling so much lighter with all of our food going from backpack to stomach. That’s okay though, our second week will involve more boating and biking and less pure backpacking. I’m really proud of the kids at this point, they have really gone past the stage of getting to know each other and you can see them becoming a stronger team. This next week should go smoothly and I suspect I’ll be able to take a small step back and leave the group up to making their own decisions. Woo! Well it looks like somebody is passing out the cookies from the care package their mom sent them, I better act fast.

Until next time,


What Gear We Provide for the Summer Youth Program

June 12th, 2013

A lot of times we get asked, “your program seems so affordable compared to the rest, does that mean you don’t provide any of the camping gear to save costs?” And the answer is absolutely not! We provide most, if not all, the technical camping and backpacking gear (including the backpack!). To further illustrate this, here is a list of everything we provide our campers when they first show up:

  • 80 Liter Backpacks
  • 2-3 Person Tents
  • Sleeping Bag
  • Sleeping Bag Liner
  • Sleeping Bag Pillow & Liner
  • Sleeping Pads
  • Water Bottles
  • Water Dromedary
  • Emergency Whistles
  • Camper Mugs/Bowls/Spoons
  • Every Single Meal (can be supplemented with personal snacks)
  • Group Gear: Stoves, Pots, Trowels, Tarps, Food Bags, & Bear-Ropes

So…what about the rest? We send out a list of clothing items and personal care items to campers upon registration which includes things like a comfortable pair of hiking boots, toothpaste, and sunscreen. But the #1 thing we hope every camper brings to Wilderness Adventure: a thirst for ADVENTURE.

Girls Jumping off Rock

To find out more about our Summer Youth Program including dates, tuition, and further details, please follow the link provided. Or give us a call anytime at 540-864-6792

Orientation Underway!

June 9th, 2013

What a wonderful time of year! Last week our new staff and future leaders started the world-famous WAEL orientation experience. Not only is it great to get out on trail, but that means our summer season is officially beginning. Here for you today is the low-down on the industry’s longest  orientation experience, on an experience that trains our leaders to make sure your kids have the greatest summer trip of their life:


WEEK 1: Talking

The first week of orientation is a long one. This is where all the information dealing with summer camp is discussed. From teaching how to teach, dealing with conflict resolution, and enough riddles to make your head spin; our soon to be leaders get fed a lot of critical information. Leadership philosophy, stove repair maintenance, camp-life discussions; the list goes on and includes everything needed not only to make our staff picture perfect Wilderness Adventure leaders, but also to make our new staff leaders in their own personal lives.

WEEK 2: Doing

The second week is where we turn the amp up to 11. Our new staff has received all the textbook camping information and are then put to the physical challenge. All-day bushwhacking, aggro-cragging,  Burley bicycle riding, swift-water rescue training, white-water kayaking, and the gallon milk challenge; this week is sweat inducing, adrenaline pumping, and one of the reasons people come to work here. We bump every activity up about 3 levels compared to what we send our kid campers on, because if our leaders can make it through this week, their is nothing they can’t do with campers in toe.

Mountain Group Pic

Their is a lot of reasons we do a two-week orientation with our new staff. First off, it’s fun. Everybody that works here lives for the opportunity to get a little dirty, to carry around a backpack, and enjoy the adventure lifestyle that a two-week backpacking trip embodies. We also want our staff to understand what it is like to be in the camper’s hiking boots. We have them use the program tents and camping gear, we go through the same cooking procedure and follow the same rules we implement with our summer trips. In this way our leaders become expertly trained in keeping kids safe, empathizing with beginner campers, and to always remember an important aspect of our summer program, that it is an experience of a lifetime.

To learn more about our Summer Youth Program including dates, tuition, and further details, please follow the link provided, or give us a call anytime at 540-864-6792.

Leader Bio: Lawrence “Jay” Besch

May 27th, 2013

Jay Besch Pic

Want to know some of the leaders your children will be spending their time with? Well look no further, here is this week’s leader profile:

Lawrence, better known as Jay, Besch was born in Atlanta, Georgia, but didn’t stay there for long. Jay has been fortunate enough to call Kazakhstan and Cairo as home for the early years of his life as his parents were involved in the international development community. Jay started his career at WAEL as a camper and has blossomed into one of the most sought after trip leaders we have.

Between attending Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ, and performing at the Kennedy Center; Jay enjoys spending his time camping, hammocking, and getting everybody in a good mood. Jay’s most recent excursion climbing the White Face Mountains in the Adirondacks has left him wanting more adventure. Come help Jay satisfy that thirst this summer as he will be leading both 1 and 2 week classic adventure trips.


To learn more about the Summer Youth Program, check out the link provided, or  give us a call anytime at 540-864-6792.

Nature: the Great Equalizer

May 16th, 2013

I’ve worked with enough kids outdoors to see a common trend. Give me your Dean’s list students, your math club elites, the trouble makers and the un-enthused, send me the brilliant speakers and the ill-tempered non-believers, and bring them all outside, surround them by nature: the great equalizer.



Out in the wilderness, a sudden quietness appears. It’s the lack of video-game distractions, internet chat rooms, and normal classroom settings. Suddenly it’s the world they are living in, and they see the power and magnitude of the great outdoors, they see that no matter the grades they get, the trouble they make, or the life they live; that the outdoors will always be strong and resilient, a master of all.

Water and Fire


This humbling realization is important for any child or adult’s development. To understand that the world goes beyond your two hands and that your two hands are part of this world. It gives people something to strive for, to obtain the security and serenity that the natural world provides, to achieve the  same resiliency the outdoors embodies.

School is for education, but summer is for learning. Take advantage of every opportunity available. To find out more information about Wilderness Adventure’s Summer Youth Program and all the lessons we teach, check out the website. Or give us a call anytime at 540-864-6792


Summer Trading Program

May 14th, 2013

Unofficial by nature, guaranteed by many, here is the low down on Wilderness Adventure’s Summer Trading Program:

Cascades Water Fall - Group3

We will gladly take the usual habits of adolescence and teenagers in the summer:

  • Video Games
  • Late Nights & Late Mornings
  • Couch Surfing
  • T.V. Watching
  • Internet Browsing
  • Being Bored
  • Drinking Slurpees from the Gas Station
  • Forgetting School Curriculum

And we’ll trade them for some of the usual habits that take place at Wilderness Adventure everyday:

  • Teambuilding Games
  • Early to Bed, Early to Rise
  • Backpacking and Adventure Activities
  • Sunset and Wildlife Watching
  • Nature Browsing
  • Solving Riddles
  • Eating S’mores from the Campfire
  • Advancing Social Skills

Cascades Water Fall - Group2

Summer camp is an opportunity of a lifetime. As the director of New York State Camp Directors Association, Jay S. Jacobs, states “For many of the million of children who fill the bunk beds in the cabins and learn the breast stroke on the waterfront each summer, camp has not only been a breath of fresh air, but a defining experience.”

Summer can be an opportunity for your child to excel or to take two steps back in development, and here at Wilderness Adventure, we take steps forward everyday in search of new campsites, new adventures, and a lifelong appreciation for the outdoors. To find out more about our Summer Youth Program, please follow the link provided, or give us a call anytime at 540-864-6792

A Day in the Life: Leader Log 2012

April 27th, 2013

Leader Log, Friday July 27, 2012:

Last night I slept hard. We took the kids up Bald Mountain yesterday via the Baldwitch Trail. It was a sizable hike that took us bush-whacking up Bald for the majority of the day. The kids are definitely noticing the weight of their packs and beginning to understand the importance of packing correctly. They really started to get in a solid rhythm the second half of the day, which is good, because by the conversations I had with them this is the first true backpacking experience they’ve took part in; and it was only a preview for what is on the plate for today.

This morning for breakfast we had hot oatmeal. The kids really are starting to get the hang of cooking on the camping stoves. It will be no time until they are doing everything and I can relax a bit more during meal time. Julia pulled up to our campsite just as we were finishing breakfast and she set up the rock climbing site. The kids are good climbers, their light weight and no fear mentality really go far in the sport. I encouraged a few to continue climbing after camp telling them that this is the best time to start getting into the sport.

After a quick snack we hit the trail with our backpacks once more. This time we were hiking up ritchpatch to camp at this isolated campsite atop the world where I’m writing this now. It was a tough hike and really tested the kids mentally and physically. We took plenty of water and food breaks so we didn’t get into camp until a bit later. It was great to see everyone encouraging each other and the determined look in the campers eyes as we forged further into the quiet forest. It was a good long day, and I suspect after a good night’s sleep the kids will wake to realize just how big of accomplishment they achieved today. And this is just day 5.

Until tomorrow,


Wilderness Adventure Featured in Camp Navigator Magazine

April 25th, 2013

Wilderness Adventure at Eagle Landing has been proudly serving the New River Valley, and participants from all over the US as well as internationally for over 23 years!  We have always felt that our program wasn’t just a summer camp but an important step in every young person’s life toward becoming a confident and well rounded adult.  We get letters from participants and parents sometimes a decade later, swearing that all the good things that they did throughout college  and as a young professional can be directly linked to their time spent with us.  Wilderness and adventure based programs are an investment, and the experiential education gained from these programs remains with you for a lifetime.  The wide array of skills learned can be utilized in so many aspects of life, and prepare you for the unknown.

Our leaders, participants and parents have always boasted the value of our program, but now others are taking notice too!  Check out our featured article in Camp Navigator Magazine & Click here to listen to our PodCast featuring our Group Program Director, Julia Boas, who has been with the program for over 7 years.

For more information about our backpacking & excursion style trips in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia email us, or go to our summer adventure camp page with all trips listed:  http://www.wilderness-adventure.com/about/our-staff/

Hard Skills Versus Soft Skills: What You Will Learn at WAEL

April 24th, 2013

During our Summer Youth Program children will develop and use both hard skills and soft skills regarding backpacking and adventure activities. These skills are not only essential to the camping experience, but are required in a successful life beyond summer camp. Here is a preview of all the hands-on, mentally-fit skills we strive to teach every camper:

Hard Skills: The list is long but throughout the one and two week sessions we practice setting up a tent, cooking your own meals, washing your dishes, carrying your weight, tying your shoes, wet exiting a kayak, using outdoor voices, sweeping campsites, waking up early, staying hydrated, building campfires, making s’mores, organizing your gear, and staying healthy. The list goes on, we are a hands-on experience, but one thing is for sure; all these skills are taught through experience.

Soft Skills: Great minds in history knew how to use their words as well as their hands. Intrinsically through our adventure camp we stress the importance of communication; the ability to say what you need and listen to other request, the distance a positive attitude can take you, the sense of belonging and contributing to a community, and perhaps most importantly, the self-esteem to understand one’s abilities to accomplish things. A lot of these lessons go unspoken and are allowed to develop as naturally as the world we surround ourselves in.

BonFire in Wael Field

These hard and soft skills not only apply to the campsites, we aim to develop these skills for the long run, for a long life of outdoor stewardship and leadership. Some things you cannot learn in the classroom, some lessons are best learned outside. For more information on our Summer Youth Program, follow the link provided. Or feel free to give us a call anytime: 540-864-6792.

Leader Bio: Zach Rawson

April 23rd, 2013

Put on the PFD, paddle out, and get ready to hang with this week’s featured staff member; Zach Rawson. Originally from Fredericksburg, Virginia; Zach has been with Wilderness Adventure since 2006 when he enrolled in our Leadership Training Program. Catch Zach on his day off and he can be found surfing white-water waves, spouting out an absurd amount of ecology facts, and claiming fame to being the best pogo-sticker in Virginia.

Zach Bio Pic

Zach has spent time as a white-water raft guide and holds certifications as a Wilderness First Responder, Swift Water Rescuer, and a ACA Raft Guide. With a degree in outdoor adventure sports management from Garrett College in McHenry, MD, Zach has spent considerable time in the outdoor industry. His favorite part? Talking to guests and getting to know people. Don’t let his double-jointed elbows fool you, Zach has his hands in a bit of everything at Wilderness Adventure and he always makes sure you leave camp with new factoids, jokes, and information on how to excel in the outdoors.

To find out more about our staff or the Summer Youth Program, please follow the links provided. Any more questions? Don’t hesitate to call: 540-864-6792.

Away From Home: The Benefits of Summer Camp

April 22nd, 2013

Leaving home for a week or two of summer camp is an american tradition. For over 150 years, children have been packing their bags, lacing up their hiking boots, and spending time outside of their normal home setting in a summer camp. What is it about summer camp that still draws such a crowd? Undoubtedly it’s a good time; camping, exploring, and pursuing adventure, but that can be accomplished outside of camp. So what is it, what brings people back each year, what makes summer camp a century and a half  tradition?

Water and Fire

We here at Wilderness Adventure believe that camp life lives on by not only the experiences you have while in our Summer Youth Program, but it’s really the after effect that makes the legacy live on. It’s that sudden recognition of the ability to be independent, the of sense responsibility that grows with camping, and most importantly, a new connection to the natural world.

Spider Web of Doom

according to the American Camping Association, “camp experience is recognized by child development professionals as valuable in helping children mature socially, emotionally, intellectually, morally, and physically.”  And we believe it. Get a kid outside their routine-ridden comfort zones and like new muscles getting used, sudden traits will appear. Emotional security, social awareness, and the idea of belonging to a community. These traits are developed on trail and go home with the kids afterwards.

Introspective Backpacker

Although Summer Camp is a boat-load of fun, it’s more then that. The past 150 years can prove it. It’s a place to learn with your hands, to be a part of this world you live in, and to set yourself up for a lifetime of many achievements.

To find out more about the Summer Youth Program follow this link, or give us a call at 540-864-6792.


Cite: American Camping Association. 2012. “Benefits of Summer Camp: Psychological Aspects.” www.acacamps.org/media.