FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

Do I really need to send a front/back copy of my Health Insurance Card?
YES!  In the event that your child needs to seek medical treatment not having a copy of the insurance card can result in major delays in treatment and can lead to you being charged the full amount for the treatment. You will then have to personally handle reimbursement by your insurance company. Although not required it is extremely helpful to include the social security number of the primary insurance holder.

The packing list seems so small!  Do we need to follow it exactly?
Yes!  The more your child brings, the more their backpack will weigh.  The list is for one week, two weeks or four weeks depending on which trip you will be going on.  Anything extra will be left at Base Camp and your child will not be at Base Camp while they are on their adventure.

How much weight will I be carrying?
Our Outdoor Discovery programs are designed to help develop self-reliance but at the same time we recognize that most (at this age) aren’t ready to carry 35lb backpacks.  Participants will typically carry what they need for the day in small daypacks (water, extra clothing, snacks, etc.) and their heavy stuff (tents, stoves, food, etc.) will be shuttled to their campsite for them.  For the Classic Adventure and Wilderness Leadership Course they will be carrying full backpacks ~35-40lbs with everything they will need for one week.  They will receive resupplies of food and necessities at the end of each week, feel free to also send them packages that will go out at this time as well.

Where do they go to the bathroom?
We use Mother Nature after campers learn a method known as troweling, which involves digging a hole in an environmentally sound manner.  They pack out all paper waste or we can teach them natural alternatives.  We will also cover sanitation and cleanliness.  Occasionally a group will be camped near Forest Service “outhouses” and we will use them when they are available.  Outdoor Discovery groups (ages 8-12) will be able to utilize our bath/shower house during the first week of their trip.

Do I get to shower?
Outdoor Discovery (ages 8-12) will have a few opportunities to shower in a shower house during one-week programs. Otherwise you will not be able to shower in a bathroom facility during your trip. However, your group will often be near a creek or river. You will have the opportunity to bathe near the water source using biodegradable soap in accordance with Leave No Trace principles. Before departing on your last day, you will be able to shower at our Base Camp facility.

How do they wash their clothes?
They can wash their bodies and clothes with biodegradable soap (which WAEL provides) and water taken from nearby creeks in accordance with Leave No Trace ethics.  They hang clothes at their campsite or over their backpacks to dry.

What if I get sick or injured while away from Base Camp?
Your group is met by an activity instructor almost daily.  If you become ill or injured, the activity instructor can take you to Base Camp or a nearby medical facility.  For immediate medical attention your Group Leader carries a cell phone, or can use a phone at a nearby house, to call 911 or Base Camp for someone to pick you up.  We answer the phone at Base Camp 24 hrs/day during the summer program.

What about Bug Bites and Poison Ivy?
There are ways to prevent getting bug bites and poison ivy, which mainly consist of covering up EVERYTHING.  Most campers however don’t walk around in snow gear during the summer months and try to take their chances with Bug Spray and avoiding poison ivy altogether.  Upon the first hike our leaders show the campers what poison ivy looks like as well as areas it is prominent.  As for the bugs…even with bug spray constantly being coated on, you are going to get bites.  We take frequent breaks for water, sunscreen and bug spray and yet we still have campers returning to camp with bug bites.  Some say it is all part of the adventure.  The best remedy is to apply bug spray every two hours…and to wear long sleeves/pants when in areas with a lot of bugs.

How am I able to communicate with my Parents?
Your child is out backpacking in the wilderness the whole time they are here.  They are not near modern conveniences such as phones, fax machines, or e-mail.  We do encourage them to send mail home.  You could send some paper, envelopes and stamps with your child if you like.  Also parents can certainly send mail to campers.  You can also send care packages to your camper with treats and little things to keep them excited and motivated.  We ask that when care packages are sent you would send enough for the entire group and both the leaders so no one feels left out of the good smorgasbord.  There is more information in the Registration Packet for care packages.

Is this a Boot Camp or Troubled Youth Program?
No…despite what television is telling us these days there are still good natured outdoor adventure programs that do not deal with dropping kids off in the woods and filling their pockets with rocks.  In our application process we ask that the participants sign a Participant Agreement so they understand that the program is fun and exciting as well as can be physically challenging, and is not a Boot Camp.  This program is for kids excited about meeting new people and getting a chance to experience adventures they have never experienced before.  Children sent here against their will be sent home without a refund.

What will I be eating?
For our trips, you will be carrying lightweight food items specifically designed for backpacking.  They are high in carbohydrates and other nutrients that will give you the energy you will need to keep going.  Some will be bagel or pita sandwich items; others contain pasta, vegetables, and sauces.  Delicious desserts follow each dinner.  The only major difference is that the water has been removed from the food, so to prepare it you simply add water to re-hydrate the food, and then heat it up.

If you questions or concerns were not anwered within these FAQs, please feel free to call us at 540-864-6792 or email us.  We know it can be difficult to send your child away for such a long time but we assure you they will have a great time and grow in character.