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Glossary of Terms

Adventure WV First-Year Trips - Glossary of Terms

For many participants on our First-Year Trips, it’s their first time camping, backpacking, and adventuring. While sometimes the “mystery” of the unknown can be an exciting experience for students, we also recognize the value of being prepared mentally and physically for what you might encounter on our trips. This glossary of terms serves to give brief introductions/explanations for some of the activities and other miscellaneous terms you might see associated with our First-Year Trips. 


The backcountry refers to wilderness areas that are rural and undeveloped. There are no roads in the backcountry, only trails; so walking is our method of transport into these beautiful, natural areas! Our Explore trips travel into the backcountry during the backpacking portion of the trip. Our leaders are well equipped with the proper training and gear to teach their groups how to travel, camp, and live in backcountry areas. 


Our Odyssey and Explore trips travel and camp throughout the state of WV during the course of their trips. While tent camping, the groups will cook, sleep, and hang out in designated camping areas such as state parks and campgrounds. We bring the shelter with us on these trips! Amenities are often limited at these campgrounds, but participants can expect to sleep in tents with their group-mates, and have access to bathrooms and running water. Showers are available at some campgrounds. 


During the backpacking portion of our Explore trips, students bring all of the equipment and food needed for thriving in the wilderness in their backpacks. This makes for a more lightweight and primitive form of camping; but the kind where you can see the stars (on a clear night!), hear the crickets, and purify your drinking water from a gurgling stream. Students will learn and practice Leave No Trace travel technique and gain important skills for camp craft like knots, packing a pack, food storage, backcountry cooking, and more. Carrying a fully-stocked backpack on a trail can be a challenging yet rewarding experience, and an opportunity to get to know your group-mates very well! Our groups hike at a slow-and-steady pace when backpacking, so that everyone can enjoy the scenery and conversation while on the trail. 


Whether it’s a quick walk to the breathtaking overlook at Coopers Rock State Forest, a scenic tour near Seneca Rocks, or an exploration of the Ferncliff Peninsula in Ohiopyle State Park; all of our First-Year Trips allow students to explore beautiful natural areas in and around WV through short hikes. Students will use their small daypacks (on the packing list!) to carry the necessary items for the day, but unlike the longer backpacking activity, they return to their vehicles and tents/lodging at the end of the activity. 


Students on our Quest trips will travel to Coopers Rock State Forest with their leaders and trained rock climbing guides. Students will receive basic instruction and have the opportunity to try their hand at climbing on a natural rock formation while secured to a rope! There are a variety of climbing route options available, from beginner-oriented to more challenging. Students will cheer on their group-mates and assist with the belay system for securing climbers. 


AWV’s challenge course (sometimes called a “ropes course”) is located at the AWV Outdoor Education Center (OEC) in the woods of University Forest, next to Coopers Rock. Students on our Odyssey and Quest trips will travel up to the OEC and spend time on our low and high challenge courses. The low course consists of a variety of activities and elements on (or close to!) the ground, where students are challenged to navigate each element as a group. These elements are designed to be exciting, but require teamwork to complete successfully! Our high course elements are constructed with trees, utility poles, and cables, and provide a series of varied and progressive obstacles for students to navigate individually and as a group. With the support of their peers and trained leaders, students can climb, navigate, balance, hang, and swing on our elements!  


Students on our Quest and Odyssey trips will stay in our yurts located at the Outdoor Education Center. Yurts are a traditional round dwellings historically used by nomads in central Asia. Our unique wooden yurts have electricity, bunk beds, chairs, and porches for relaxing in the evenings! Bathrooms and showers are available in a separate bath house on-site. Note that Odyssey participants will also camp in tents.  


All of our First-Year Trips go whitewater rafting! Odyssey and Quest will raft in Ohiopyle, PA while Explore trips raft in Fayetteville, WV. Students and leaders participate in a half or full-day of rafting, led by professional whitewater guides, on class III-IV whitewater rapids. Students will paddle an inflatable raft down a body of moving water, navigating around obstacles and riding through big waves with the assistance of a guide. Rafting is an exciting, adrenaline-rush of fun! 


You will see this term on all of our packing lists, as well as listed in several other places on our website. We ask students on our trips (and required for Explore trips that travel into the backcountry) to avoid wearing cotton clothing/underwear/socks. Clothing made of cotton will absorb water (sweat, rain) and take heat away from your body, making you cold (this is possible even on sunny days!). Synthetic material will still retain insulating ability, even when wet (keeping you warmer!).

Having the right material on trips that travel, live, and adventure in the outdoors is crucial to having a comfortable and safe trip. Sometimes it’s just not possible to go inside if it’s raining, and sometimes you sweat during the day but it gets chilly at night. You’d be surprised how quickly even 70 degrees feels chilly after a hot and sunny day. The weather in the mountains is unpredictable and it is important that students are prepared with the right clothing.

How do you find out what material your clothing is made of? Make sure to check and read labels. Clothing and underwear will have tags either at the collar or by your ribcage that list the materials the item is made from. Items made from 100% non-cotton materials are best, items that have a smaller percentage of cotton materials mixed in are better than full-cotton. Examples of some synthetic materials you might see:

  • Polyester
  • Nylon
  • Spandex
  • Fleece
  • Acrylic
  • Rayon
  • Wool (technically not synthetic, but a really great material for outdoor clothing!)


The weather in the mountainous regions can be unpredictable! Students should expect a variety of different weather and temperatures on their trip. One of the most important pieces of equipment a student should have on any of our trips is a quality, waterproof rain jacket (Also a great investment for walking around campus in any season). *Waterproof rain jackets are available to borrow for Explore and Odyssey students, free-of-charge, if reserved ahead of time. Students can call or email to reserve.*

There is a big difference between a waterproof rain jacket and a water-resistant jacket. Check the labels/names closely- Even if a jacket is called a “rain jacket”, make sure it says “water-proof” somewhere in the name or description.

  • Water-resistant jackets are only designed to handle light rain for a brief time before soaking through completely (and thus the person wearing it). These jackets are sometimes called “wind-breaker” jackets and generally either consist of just a fabric shell or a fabric shell with a thin, see-through coating on the inside.
  • Waterproof rain jackets are designed to stand up to prolonged, driving rain conditions. These jackets will not only be made of the typical wind-breaker/jacket nylon type material, but will have an additional laminate/coating on the inside of the jacket to enhance its waterproof-ness. This internal laminate/coating will feel “plastic-y” and is oftentimes white or gray in color. Waterproof jackets will greatly range in price as there is a variety of technology available on the market. If you are looking to purchase, examples of affordable, waterproof rain jackets we might recommend would include the REI Co-Op Rain jacket, Columbia Evapouration jacket, Marmot Precip jacket, Mountain Hardwear Finder rain jacket, Sierra Designs Hurricane rain jacket, or the North Face Venture Rain Jacket.