Adventure Camp Frequently Asked Questions



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. For this reason, it is incredibly important to think small, light, and quick-dry. The list is designed for one week, two weeks or four weeks depending on which trip your child 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 participants carry?

For the Classic Adventure, Wilderness Leadership Course, and specialty trips campers will be carrying full backpacks ~35-40lbs with everything they will need for one week.  On multi-week trips they will receive resupplies of food and necessities at the end of each week. Our Outdoor Discovery programs are designed to help develop self-reliance, but at the same time we recognize that most participants at this age aren’t ready to carry 35lb backpacks.  OD 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. Please feel free to also send care packages that will go out to your camper on trail, but be sure to check our guidelines on the packing list.

Where do they go to the bathroom?

We use Mother Nature (or the facili-trees) 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 8-10) will be able to utilize our bathhouse during their one week trip.

Do participants get to shower?

Outdoor Discovery (ages 8-10) will have a couple opportunities to shower in a shower house during one-week programs. All other campers will not be able to shower in a bathroom facility until the final day of their trip (we do make sure to send them home clean). However, groups will often be near a creek or river and participants will learn to bathe near the water source using biodegradable soap in accordance with Leave No Trace principles. Don’t worry everyone gets dirty and smelly, it’s an important part of the adventure!

How do they wash their clothes?

Campers 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 my child get sick or injured while away from Base Camp?

Adventure groups are met by an activity instructor almost daily.  If a participant becomes ill or injured, the activity instructor can take them to the Base Camp infirmary or a nearby medical facility.  For immediate medical attention each 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 up a sick or injured participant.  We have dedicated staff answering the phone at Base Camp 24 hrs/day during the summer program. In addition, we ensure that all of our staff has a minimum of a Wilderness First Aid (WFA) certification before beginning the summer.

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, participants 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 hour and to wear long sleeves/pants when in areas with a lot of bugs.

How are campers able to communicate with home?

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, which will be delivered to them on trail.  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 involve 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 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 would not have the opportunity to otherwise.  Children sent here against their will be sent home without a refund. It is very important that campers understand the commitment they are making, and are excited about spending time in the wilderness with new friends.

What do campers eat on trail?

For our trips, participants will be carrying lightweight food items specifically designed for backpacking.  These meals are high in carbohydrates and other nutrients that will give campers the energy they will need to keep going.  Most lunches consist of bagel or pita sandwich items; and dinners contain pasta, vegetables, and sauces.  Delicious desserts follow each dinner.  The only major difference with our Mountain House dinners is that the water has been removed from the food, so to prepare it you simply add hot water to re-hydrate the food (think of it like a really fancy Cup of Noodles). We will make accommodations for dietary restrictions but it is very important that these are noted clearly on the medical forms so we can plan accordingly. Please note that eating enough at each meal is essential to ensuring not only your camper’s safety but that of the entire group, choosing not to eat is not an option.  

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.

If you questions or concerns were not answered 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.