The Blue Ridge Mountains are some of the oldest in the world and are home to hundreds of waterfalls, diverse flora and fauna, over a million acres of National Forest, park and public land, unique rock formations, and the highest peaks in the eastern United States. During this course, you will backpack through the mountains with ample breaks to enjoy the Blue Ridge Mountain views. This course also allows for rock climbing or caving, and a whitewater kayaking or canoeing portion that helps break up the travel days and gives a whole new appreciation for the trust and communication skills the crew is building. In addition to learning new skills in backcountry travel, you will also develop confidence, teamwork, and leadership skills while working together within the group to meet daily goals.
This is a tentative schedule. Places and events may change to accommodate the environment, weather, logistics, and the safety of the group.
Sunday, Aug. 1, 2021 | 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Checkin and get your copy of the University of Lynchburg’s Student Handbook, The Hornet. Enjoy some time to move into your residence hall and, later on,grab dinner with your family before meeting up with the Outdoor Leadership Program staff at 7 p.m. in Schewel hall to meet your crew and gear up for your expedition.
Ropes Course and Backpacking
Monday, Aug. 2, 2021
We will meet at 8 a.m. at Schewel Circle to start our adventure. The day will begin on the low ropes challenge course where you will get to know your crew before taking on the challenge of the high ropes course. After your day on the ropes course, you will travel to the first campsite to start your backcountry adventure.
Tuesday, Aug. 3, 2021
We will wake up in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. From this point, you and your crew will be self-supported. This day will consist of getting to know your crew and learning the fundamentals of trail life. We will close out the day with a campfire on the mountain top.
Rock Climbing or Caving
Wednesday, Aug. 4, 2021
On this day, we will begin climbing instruction and start by teaching the basics, such as working with ropes and learning to tie knots. As students progress, and gain confidence, they will learn how to climb up and rappel down a rock face. If the student group gets caving as an optional day, the students will explore the underground passages of Virginia. No experience is necessary; our knowledgeable guides will teach you everything you need to know.
These structured activities provide opportunities not only for self-reliance but also for communication and collaboration as participants confront and work through their fears. We’ll be starting our descent towards the whitewater kayaking portion of our trip.
Thursday, Aug. 5, 2021
We will be trading our backpacks and harnesses for drybags and paddles as we push off from shore to experience the wilderness from a different and unique vantage point. We will spend the day paddling down one of the most scenic sections of water in Virginia. This section will take us through six to nine miles of technical Class I, II, and III rapids.
Friday, Aug. 6, 2021
This day will include an overnight “SOLO” experience. A SOLO is an intentional, solitary experience designed to reflect on the day and the week. Build yourself a shelter, write in your notebook, or catch up on some sleep! This is a reflective exercise that many ABOVE alumni regard as the highlight of their ABOVE Program.
Return to Campus
Saturday, Aug. 7, 2021
Congratulations! You have made it through the ABOVE program. We will pack up camp and drive back to campus with plenty of time for you to get settled and do laundry before convocation tomorrow.