Month: March 2016

residential camp tie dye shirts

A few days ago, while interviewing two of our “perpetual” residential campers for a camp video, I heard something that caught me by surprise. When asked what their favorite part about residential camp was, both girls answered simultaneously, “Talking to the other girls at the end of the night.” In a camp where a typical day consists of crawling around a cave 50 feet underground or tip-toeing up a rock climbing route 50 feet above the ground, their favorite part was building relationships with their fellow campers.


Almost every week of residential camp begins the same way. Campers are dropped off, signed in and then thrust into a new-ish world with at least 20 smiling-yet-apprehensive faces they have never seen before. From the time that their parents leave all the way until their parents arrive at the end of the week, campers have each other and their instructors. We do not have a hidden cave of televisions and video games in the middle of the woods or WiFi accessible to our campers.

We do not have a hidden cave of televisions and video games in the middle of the woods


All of our campers sign up for Adventure Links camp for the same reason, the activities. There is no doubt that spending your day kayaking or rock climbing is more fun than a day doing math problems. What campers don’t realize until they leave is that the one piece of Adventure Links that will stay with them forever is the community. By attending residential camp, campers have the opportunity to do all of those cool activities listed in our brochure, but they also have the opportunity to share these experiences with each other. Campers sing together next to the campfire, dine together in the lodge, paddle together at the river, sleep together in the bunks, challenge themselves together and, by the end of the week, transform themselves together.ao1

What campers don’t realize until they leave is that the one piece of Adventure Links that will stay with them forever is the community.


By the end of each week of residential camp, those smiling-yet-apprehensive faces are all familiar and just smiling, without apprehension. Some campers are usually sad to say goodbye to their new friends and bunkhouses, but the majority have already come up with ways to stay in touch and made plans for residential camp next year.


The community that has begun to form around our residential camps is caused by the campfire songs, the post-lights-out conversations, the daily challenges, and most importantly, the shared experiences. The relationships that are developed at camp are one-of a-kind. Each year it is our goal to provide an environment that creates those relationships organically.



eric newmanEric Newman | Program Coordinator

Day Camps


In a time where recesses are being cut short, technology is ever-present in our children’s eyes, and coding is the newest language being taught in school; we are advocating for more time outside! The best way to give your children that time outside is Summer Camp!


For the past 19 years, Adventure Links has been providing the summer camp experience for youth in Northern Virginia. We offer a variety of camps for rising 2nd through 12th graders. Our ultimate goal is to provide an experience that is meaningful for our campers each year they come back. 


Let’s talk Day Camps. Currently, we offer four different day camps for participants from 2nd through 8th grades: Hemlock (rising 2nd-3rd grades), Classic (rising 3rd-5th grades), Ultimate (rising 6th-7th grades) and Summit (rising 7th-8th grades). Each of Our Camps has their own variety, but are all focused around adventure sports and getting a little dirty. Our range of activities include: rock climbing, zip lining, caving, sailing, mountain biking, kayaking, canoeing, and the list goes on.


Quick Facts: Day Camps

  • We offer convenient pick-up/drop-off locations throughout the summer in Arlington, Vienna, Ashburn, Centreville, Manassas, Gainesville, Chantilly, Springfield, and Herndon.
  • We pick up campers at 8AM from the location and drop off at the same location at 5PM.
  • We maintain a maximum ratio of 13:2 (or 6.5:1) with all of Our Camps.
  • Each instructor must keep a minimum of Basic First Aid/CPR, but most go a step further and have a minimum of Wilderness First Aid.


Why Adventure Links Day Camps?


My first answer is fun! There are factors that come to mind when thinking of fun at Adventure Links. The first factor is our Instructors. While each Instructor usually has their own favorite adventure sport (some have many), we all share a passion for youth development. The second factor is programming. We offer exciting experiences for all different ages and abilities. Each day our Instructors tailor the activity to the experience level and comfortability of each group to ensure a positive experience.


The second reason is community. Summer camp in general provides an unparalleled opportunity for kids to interact with people they have never before met. The first day of Our Camps is geared towards familiarizing campers with each other, their Instructors, the expectations, and challenges of the week. Throughout the week, campers form new bonds, collaborate with new people, and participate in challenging activities alongside their new friends.


The final reason Our Camps provide a meaningful experience for our campers is personal growth. From the perspective of the individual, the challenges that our campers are faced with allow them to step out of their comfort zones. Everything from meeting new campers to climbing a 40’ cliff can be a learning experience. At the end of each activity, Instructors encourage reflection that helps each camper take something unique away from the activity.


Whether the reason for looking at summer camp is to keep your child engaged throughout the summer, to introduce them to new adventure sports and people, or to catalyze personal growth, we are confident that a week spent at Adventure Links will have an impact on their life. Day camp is the beginning of a meaningful journey that we, at Adventure Links, enjoy creating and following along with.





ryan daleRyan Dale | Summer Camp Director

I have the kind of mother who loves to cut little articles out of the newspaper about things to do, places to see and her favorite, places to eat in Washington DC and then give them to me. The most valued one of these little bits of paper she has clipped for me was the one about 14 years ago that introduced me to something called “Letterboxing”.

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Top 3 things I love about letterboxing:

1) It’s Inclusive: I have taken friends and family of a variety of skill and interest, including my lovely mother who likes to whine on the up hills, but still loves finding the boxes. Hiding places are also not limited to the woods, I have found boxes in all sorts of urban spaces including libraries, national monuments, cemeteries, shops, and a few bars.

2) Art + Adventure: Letterboxing is a combination of designing and carving beautiful intricate stamps along with little scavenger hunts that may need to be decoded and you will most likely get lost on a few times.

3) It’s FREE!: Other than the stamp, inkpad and logbook the little adventures are completely free. It seems so rare these days to find a fun hobby that really only requires the gas money to get there.

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A wee bit of history:

The Washington Post had done a piece on this hobby that had started in Dartmoor, England in 1854 by a Victorian guide named James Perrott who hid a bottle with his calling card in it along the banks of the Cranmere Pool. He encouraged visitors to try to find it and then leave their own calling card in the bottle. Soon the bottle was switched out for a tin box and those who found it left a self-addressed postcard for the next person to visit the letterbox to mail it back to them.

For more information on the history of Letterboxing:

Today, what you will more commonly find in a letterbox is a rubber stamp, often which has been hand carved to follow the theme of a story or the location it is hidden. When you find a box you take the stamp from the box and use it to mark your personal logbook, then mark the box’s logbook with your personal stamp. Much like those who frequently hike the Appalachian Trail, Letterboxers create a new name for themselves and use it in the design of their personal stamp.

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Getting Started:


Here are some of the important pieces of equipment that I bring along while “boxing”: our notebook with all of the stamps of boxes that we have found, a compass for when a clue uses directional degrees to lead you to the box, and a hitchhiker (a stamp and notebook that doesn’t have a permanent home, but instead travels from box to box as it is found and dropped off by letterboxers).

Once you have your equipment ready, you can visit one of two websites to find clues for boxes in your neck of the woods. The first site in the US was Letterboxing North America (, which has recently gotten an upgrade and is much more user friendly. As the popularity of the hobby grew, a second website has been created Atlas Quest ( which is what I use more mainly because I find that it is easier to sort and find what you want. As you start to become as obsessed with this as I am, you will need to create an account so you can track your finds, chat with other “boxers” and complain to the “planter” when you checked every tree where they said to and there was no box!

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Advice to the newbies:

  • Bring a snack and some water, some of these boxes can be much further distance and difficulty than they sounded.
  • Be ready to poke around in deep dark dirty holes looking for a Tupperware box. You will not remain clean when boxing.
  • Work the clues backwards if you get stuck. Sometimes there is a better landmark further in the clues that you can use to track where you are.
  • Nature changes all the time! Live trees fall over and die, dead trees rot away and wind and water often change the landscape.
  • Plan out a few boxes for the day, that way if you are not able to find one you wont feel to let down because there is sure to be another one somewhere close by. This is why I love the here search button on the Atlas Quest Location-Based Search, it’s amazing how many boxes are in the same location.



This is one of the boxes hidden here at Hemlock Overlook next to its hiding location. We took a dorky hobby and dorked it out further by making a Doctor Who themed series of 4 boxes. I’m proud of my dorkdum.



rachel doody-Rachel Doody | Letterboxer Extraordinaire