Frequently Asked Questions

General

Is Apogee a camp?

Yes! Apogee runs camp programs and is accredited by the American Camp Association (ACA). Accreditation means that Apogee meets or exceeds more than 300 ACA standards to ensure a well-managed and dynamic summer camp experience for both our students and staff. However, because Apogee is an adventure travel program, we have no residential location and most Apogee programs move from place to place. Additionally, our groups are always small - no more than 12 students and two leaders. This model allows us to be more flexible, explore more fantastic locations, and foster cohesive, supportive groups.

What distinguishes Apogee from other adventure travel programs for young people?

In a word, care. While we’ve enjoyed great growth over the years, Apogee is still a small program and we love nothing more than to get to know the families that choose our program and watch as students grow over the course of their experiences with us. Additionally, we care deeply about the greater community – that’s why each Apogee program incorporates community service.

How long has Apogee been in business?

Founded in 2001, we ran our first trips in the summer of 2002 with a grand total of fifteen students. Apogee has grown steadily every year since those humble beginnings and in 2014 we welcomed 440 students from around the world.

Where are most of Apogee’s students from?

Just about everywhere! With about half of our students hailing from northeast of Washington, DC, we annually welcome students from all over the United States, Canada, Europe, and Asia.

I’m not a U.S. citizen. Can I still apply for and participate in an Apogee trip?

Absolutely! We encourage the participation of international students in Apogee programs. Since visa requirements vary a great deal from country to country, non-US citizens joining Apogee programs are responsible for obtaining all necessary visas and travel documents. We are happy to provide enrollment verification and itinerary information as may be required for visa applications.

Is there community service and volunteering on every trip?

Yes. Community service is a hallmark of each and every Apogee adventure. Giving back makes our trips more well-rounded and better for everyone – better for the communities we serve and better for our students. We hope to nurture generosity and community-mindedness in our students, and to plant the seeds for future stewardship. The specific community service projects and number of hours vary trip and by year. General descriptions of service can be found on each trip page or by contacting our office.

My child is new to hiking / biking / outdoor living. Can he or she still participate in the trip?

Prior outdoor adventure experience is not a prerequisite to participate in an Apogee program. In general, Apogee is open to students with a positive attitude, a willingness to try new things, and a basic to moderate level of physical fitness. If you can bring these qualities to your trip, Apogee is for you!

Can my child do an Apogee trip with a friend?

Yes. As a general rule, a maximum of two friends may attend the same Apogee trip together. Our experience has shown that more than two friends on the same trip can often hinder the dynamics of a small group. If you would like to attend a trip with a friend, please indicate this on your application.

Who are Apogee’s Leaders?

The difference between a good company and a great company is the quality of its leaders. We know that our staffing decisions are critical to the success of our programs, so we spend the time and effort to ensure our leaders are the best in the business. Our hiring process is extremely competitive; in 2014 we received over 240 applications for fewer than 20 open positions. Apogee’s leaders are outstanding role models with strong leadership skills and great experience working with young people in group situations. They are adventurers who love the outdoors and are eager to share their knowledge and enthusiasm with their students. Learn more about our outstanding leaders and read the bios of many of them on Our Leaders page.

How physically challenging are Apogee adventures? Are there any eligibility requirements?

We believe in the concept of "achievable challenge." While every Apogee program provides a measure of both physical and mental challenge, our trip itineraries are carefully designed to be within the reach of any motivated student. The exceptions are our America Coast to Coast (ACC) and our Europe Coast to Coast (ECC) cycling adventures. These trips are our most challenging and are for highly motivated students. ACC and ECC participants must be prepared to push themselves daily and train ahead of time (we’ll send a suggested training schedule for all of our trips). Parents and students considering our ACC and ECC trips are welcome to speak with Apogee’s Directors about expectations.

How do we find the trip that is right for us?

Check out our Trips at a Glance and our individual trip pages for information about trip type, trip length, locations, dates, and challenge levels. Or call us anytime – we love to chat about our trips and put you in touch with other families who have participated in Apogee’s trips before. Our Directors would be happy to answer your questions and connect you with an alumni family in your area.

Applying with Apogee

How quickly do trips fill up? What if my first choice is filled?

Apogee begins accepting applications in October, and many trip departures will be full by the end of February. In the event your first choice if filled, we’re happy let you know where we still have availability, and/or put you on a waiting list for your first choice in case a spot opens up.

Are you able to put me in touch with families that have previously participated in Apogee programs?

Absolutely! References are a great way to learn more about Apogee and to answer many trip-specific questions. Just give us a call or shoot us an email and we would be happy to put you directly in touch with alumni parents and students.

What is included in the tuition? Other than the tuition, what additional expenses should we anticipate?

Tuition covers all meal, accommodation, transportation, and activity costs while on trip. Airfare, bike rental (for select trips), and costs associated with transporting or shipping your own bicycle to trip start locations are not included with tuition. Students are asked to bring a small amount of spending money that they may use to buy souvenirs or treats when visiting towns or cities, as well as to pay for showers and laundry. We’re happy to provide you with a copy of our equipment lists ahead of time so that you know what personal gear is required.

Do you offer any scholarships?

Yes. We’re happy to offer two different types of scholarships. We work closely with the To the Top Foundation, a non-profit supported by Apogee alumni families and dedicated to helping kids participate in programs like ours. To the Top has its own application process, and we’re happy to put you in touch with the foundation to apply for scholarship assistance. To the Top scholarships are offered on a rolling basis as long as funds are available. Additionally, we provide direct scholarships based on availability – but we are not usually able to offer this type of scholarship until late March or early April. Please contact our Directors if you are interested in applying for a scholarship through Apogee or the To the Top Foundation.

What is Apogee’s refund policy?

Please see our Terms & Conditions for all of the details regarding refunds and withdrawals.

Safety & Risk Management

How “safe” are Apogee trips?

Quite simply, there are inherent risks involved with many of the activities on an Apogee trip – whether hiking, biking, or otherwise – making it impossible for us (or any outdoor organization) to guarantee an entirely safe experience in the outdoors. That said, Apogee’s number one priority is creating and maintaining an environment where risk is minimized for our students. We spend a great deal of time personally researching our trips to find the roads, trails, partners, and projects that best meet our, and our students’, needs. Apogee’s leaders participate in our 10-day Leader Training at the beginning of every summer and often have extensive personal experience in the types of activities they’re leading. All of our leaders hold certifications in CPR & First Aid at a minimum, and are lifeguard certified. Parents should not hesitate to call our office with any questions regarding our risk management program.

How important is training beforehand?

While we recognize that sticking to a training schedule may be impossible for students busy with school and other commitments, we firmly believe that students who train ahead of time will be safer and get more out of their trips. Students interested in trips such as America Coast to Coast or Europe Coast to Coast will need to train beforehand as these trips jump right into days with a lot of mileage. Before applying for ACC or ECC, parents and students are welcome to speak with Apogee’s Directors about the expectations for those trips.

What happens if a student gets sick or injured while on trip?

Your health and well-being are Apogee’s top priorities. In the case of an illness or injury, Apogee staff and leaders are trained to follow treatment protocols specific to the injury or illness. If the injury or illness is minor, Apogee’s field staff will treat as necessary and contact the Directors (field staff are equipped with cell phones and, when necessary, satellite phones). The Directors will contact the affected student’s family to inform them of the situation. If possible, the student will continue with the group and be closely monitored over the next few days or until any symptoms have subsided. In the case of a more serious illness or injury, Apogee staff will contact emergency medical personnel, treat the illness or injury as necessary (within the staff member’s level of medical certification), and inform the Directors. In turn, the Directors will contact the affected student’s family immediately. Apogee staff, our Directors, and the student’s parents will work with medical personnel to ensure that the best course of action is taken. In general, we will contact parents any time non-routine medical treatment is needed.

My child takes daily medicine? How will it be administered?

Apogee collects, maintains, and administers all over-the-counter and prescription medications. We will work with parents ahead of time to make sure we understand all medications a student takes, the dosage, and the time of day the student must take the medication. Apogee students are permitted to carry their own properly-prescribed inhalers and Epi-pens.

My child has a dietary restriction / food allergy. Can Apogee accommodate this?

We do our very best to accommodate food allergies and dietary restrictions, including vegetarians, Kosher, and gluten-free diets. The more information about a student’s dietary restrictions we have ahead of time, and the more the student is able to participate in their meal preparation, the more successful the student will be. Because some of our programs take place in remote areas with limited access to a wide variety of foods, we may suggest a different trip for students with severe food restrictions or allergies. We are not able to accommodate a vegan diet at this point.

I’m worried about my child cycling on the road – how does Apogee minimize risk while biking?

Managing risk while bike touring requires, first and foremost, good common sense awareness on the part of Apogee’s staff and our students. We expect students to faithfully adhere to our policies and accepted practices for bike touring. These include paying attention during daily pre-ride briefings, proper attire and equipment, use of high visibility gear (including lights, reflective wear, and flags), and proper riding techniques. We also require all of our cyclists to sign our Responsible Riding Pledge demonstrating their commitment to Apogee’s risk management and biking policies. Additionally, we plan our routes to take advantage of secondary roads, dedicated bike lanes, and bike trails. Our cycling routes are scouted ahead of time and we are in daily contact with our trip leaders to check in about conditions on the road.

Are bike trips van-supported?

All of Apogee’s bike trips are self-supported, meaning that students and their leaders will carry their clothing, tent, cooking gear, etc. on their bikes. We maintain an extensive support network and have staff members on hand to provide dedicated support to our longer cycling tours.

Pre-trip Preparations

Once we submit our application with Apogee, what are the next steps?

We do our best to notify applicants of their acceptance status within two weeks of receiving their completed application (please note that applications are considered complete only after we have received the names and contact information for the applicant’s two references). This process can take longer if we have difficulty contacting an applicant’s references. Once the student has been accepted, we will send you some general trip information and an equipment and clothing list. Early in the spring, we’ll send out detailed trip information including an itinerary, a schedule of pre-trip preparation and training, travel information, and a number of forms that we will ask you to complete and return in a timely fashion.

What gear will my child need to bring on his / her trip, and what will Apogee provide?

We will provide all group gear – including equipment like tents, group cooking supplies, and first aid kits. Students must provide their own personal gear such as backpacks, sleeping bags, and hiking boots. This includes a bicycle for all biking trips except Maine Coast Junior and Hawaii Service Adventure. Apogee offers bicycle and pannier / saddlebag rentals for most Apogee trips, please see below for details.

Does Apogee rent bikes or do we need to provide our own? What are the rental bikes like?

Students on biking trips other than Maine Coast Junior (MCJ) and Hawaii Service Adventure (HSA) must provide their own bicycle and pannier / saddlebag (bike rental is included in the tuition for MCJ and HSA). Rental bikes are available for our Cape Cod & the Islands, Vermont to Montréal, Coast to Québec, Montana Service Adventure, and Pacific Coast trips. Rental bikes are maintained by licensed bicycle mechanics and used exclusively for bike touring. Please contact our office to inquire about availability and cost. Students enrolled in our America Coast to Coast and Europe Coast to Coast trips must provide their own touring bike and panniers. Please contact our Directors for details.

Will my child need to get a physical before their trip?

Yes. A Student Health Form will be included in your child’s Trip Information Packet (sent in the spring). This form must be completed and signed by a licensed physician, and will confirm that the student is in good physical and mental health. You’re welcome to send a copy of your child’s most recent physical as long as it was completed within one year of your child’s trip start date.

Trip Life

What is the makeup of a typical group?

Apogee groups are all small, co-ed, and organized by age. An Apogee group will never have more than twelve students. Additionally, we limit enrollment to two thirds boys or girls – in other words, a group of twelve students will never have more than eight girls or eight boys. Groups are always led by two leaders - one male and one female.

What are meals like on an Apogee trip?

Meals are a highlight of every Apogee adventure! Because our groups are so active, you can expect to eat a lot – three big meals a day and plenty of snacks. Each student shares in the responsibilities for planning and preparing meals – under the supervision of their leaders, of course. Given the nature of our travels, meals are generally simple (think stir fries, burritos, and pasta dishes), though we do our very best to ensure that they are plentiful, nutritious, and delicious! Meals are often different from what students eat at home. For that reason, it’s important that students arrive with an open mind, eager to try new things. We plan our itineraries to maximize access to good fresh food while on the trail or on the road. With the exception of those groups in the true backcountry, each group enjoys near-daily access to grocery stores. Leaders will instruct their students on hygienic cleaning procedures for both group cooking gear and their personal dining ware.

Where will we spend our nights?

Accommodations vary by trip, but generally speaking, we’ll be camping in tents on most nights on most trips. Apogee provides the tents, and leaders will create tent groups according to gender. We do stay in hostels for several nights on number of trips, often at the end of a trip in a destination city (e.g., San Francisco, Venice, or Boston). The only trips without any camping are our Caribbean Service Adventure and our Maine Coast College Essay where all nights are spent in a variety of coastal cabins, guest-houses, and villas. We’re very happy to speak with you in detail about the accommodations on a specific trip.

How often can we expect to shower and do laundry?

We’re happy to tell you that hot showers are available just about every night. The only significant exceptions are the backcountry portions of our hiking trips, such as those on our Maine’s Downeast Explorer, California Mountains & Coast, and Northwest Explorer trips. Students will typically have a chance to do laundry about once a week.

Once on trip, what are Apogee’s rules?

Apogee has a number of expectations in place to help foster a safe, welcoming, and wholesome environment – an environment where peers and staff are respected. Our expectations include firm rules regarding risk management practices and zero-tolerance policies regarding the possession or use of alcohol, drugs, and tobacco. And because they can really detract from the group dynamic and a student’s appreciation of his or her surroundings, we ask that students avoid exclusive relationships and we do not allow cell phones, iPods, or any other electronic device. Finally, we ask our students to adopt a level of personal responsibility and ownership for their trip – a positive attitude and a willingness to try new things are essential qualities of an Apogee student.

What does a typical day look like on trip?

The specifics of any given Apogee day are going to vary by trip type, location, and age group, among other things – but there are some universal components to every Apogee day. Generally, most Apogee students will wake up and get going relatively early in the morning. We’ll pack up camp and prepare our bikes or backpacks for the day before eating breakfast. Hiking and biking trips will spend the majority of their day on the trail or on the road with frequent rest and meal breaks. We’ll be eating a lot throughout the day – you can count on three big meals and snacks throughout the day. Arriving at camp initiates a flurry of activity, including setting up camp, cooking dinner, and taking showers. Students are assigned to a rotating chore group with two or three peers – on any given day, you’ll help out as a member of the “Cook Crew,” the “Clean-up Crew,” the “Journal Crew,” or the “Miscellaneous Crew.” After eating a hearty dinner, evenings are often filled with fun games or activities for the whole group. Days will always conclude with an Apogee & Perigee Circle (A’s & P’s, for short) – Apogee’s own version of a daily highs & lows circle.

What type of community service projects will we be doing?

Community service projects and hours vary according by trip. Students may find themselves working at a regional food bank in California, contributing to trail maintenance in Montana’s Glacier National Park, weeding organic blueberry fields in mid-coast Maine, or performing a beach clean-up in Puerto Rico. Apogee strives to partner with organizations that offer our groups a hands-on experience while building a sense of generosity and community-mindedness in our students. You’ll see an estimate for the number of community service hours at the bottom of each trip page on our website.

What happens if it rains on my trip?

We’re not daunted by a little rain! If it rains on your trip, you will most likely continue on with the day’s activities. Students should bring appropriate foul-weather gear, including a rain jacket and rain pants. In the case of severe weather or any lightning in the vicinity, our leaders will find a safe place for the group until the weather passes. Rainy nights are just a part of camping, particularly in the northeast, but in the event of extended rain, we will often secure indoor accommodations for the night; usually at a local church or community center.

What distinguishes Apogee from other adventure travel programs for young people?

In a word, care. While we’ve enjoyed great growth over the years, Apogee is still a small program. We love nothing more than building relationships with our families and watching our students grow and prosper during their time with us. Additionally, we care deeply about the greater community – that’s why we incorporate volunteering and community service into every Apogee itinerary.

Can I bring my cell phone / iPod / other electronic gadget?

In a word, no. Our leaders work very hard over the course of your trip to create a cohesive group, and we’ve found that cell phones, iPods, and other electronic gadgets distract from that dynamic. Students flying to their trip start may bring their phones, but our staff will collect all cell phones, iPods, and other electronic devices at trip start and hold on to them for the duration of the trip. Students who use their phone as their camera should bring a digital camera or several disposable film cameras as you will not have access to your phone to take pictures. Please note, however, that Apogee is not responsible under any circumstances for loss or damage to any cell phones or any other electronic "contraband."

Travel Arrangements

Where will we meet Apogee staff on the first day of my child’s trip?

  • New England trip-starts:
    • Parents will receive specific information regarding the trip start in the early spring. Drop-offs for New England trips will often be at a location that can accommodate large groups of people, i.e. church or library parking lots. Apogee staff and trip leaders will be on hand to welcome students and parents and to help students get organized for their trip. Students flying into New England will be picked up at the airport by an Apogee staff member and shuttled to their trip start. Please note that we require your written authorization to release your child to someone other than a parent or guardian at the end of a trip.
  • Non-New England trip-starts (including international trips):
    • Trips located outside of the Northeast start at an appropriately placed regional airport. Apogee staff and trip leaders will have a detailed flight itinerary for each student and will be there to greet them on arrival. Once students are with their leaders, they will call home to let their parents know they have arrived and are with their group. Please see below for specifics regarding students traveling as unaccompanied minors. Please contact Apogee with any specific questions or concerns regarding drop-offs and/or pick-ups. At the end of the trip, we’ll get your child checked in and through security. Apogee staff stay at the airport until every student has departed in the event of delays or canceled flights.

My child is flying to his / her trip start. Can we coordinate arriving and departing flights with other students?

Yes! Apogee is happy to connect families from the same area so they may coordinate flights and students may fly with a new friend.

My child is traveling as an unaccompanied minor. How will this work?

As every airline is different, please check your airline’s specific policy regarding students traveling as unaccompanied minors. Regardless of airline, parents will need to inform the airline of the Apogee staff member who will be picking up their child. Call us ahead of time and we can give you the information you’ll need to give your airline.

Communication on Trip

Will I hear from my child over the course of his or her trip?

Yes. We believe that parents and students are happier when they have a chance to check in with each other. As such, students will typically have a weekly opportunity to call home and communicate with family. In addition to phone calls, every trip has at least one mail stop where students can receive mail from family and friends. We also maintain a daily blog during the summer season that contains updates and pictures from every trip. Please note that Apogee does not permit the use or possession of cell phones and other electronic devices by students while on trip, see Trip Life below for more information.

How do leaders keep in touch with the office during trips?

All Apogee leaders have cell phones (and satellite phones, if necessary) and use them to communicate with the office daily. If you have any questions or concerns about your child once on trip, you are welcome to contact us at anytime and we can reach out to our leaders in the field in short order.