FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

We know you probably have a lot of questions as you prepare for your semester at The Outdoor Academy. This page has answers!

If you can’t find your question here or on the Resources and Forms page, get in touch with us! This document lists who to contact based on the questions you have.

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GENERAL

How should I get to/from OA? Where should we stay in the area?

If you will need to fly, Asheville is the closest airport, and has close hotels and rental cars available. Greenville-Spartanburg is also nearby, and both airports have connecting flights to Charlotte, Atlanta, and other large hubs.

Please send your flight information to the Dean of Students, well in advance if you are flying solo and will need to be picked up at the airport on Opening Day.

For other recommendations, check out our list of local things to do and places to stay.

LOCAL RESOURCES

How do the phones work? Where do I send mail?

Address letters to: 

(Student name)
43 Hart Rd
Pisgah Forest, NC 28768.

Student Phone: Parents and guardians will receive the student phone number via email.

To use the phone on campus, you will need a phone card, which you can purchase at our school store once you arrive here.

What about boxes and care packages?

Everyone loves getting a care package. We are also trying to practice our principle of simple living. We don’t need a lot of stuff, and there is limited space in living spaces. One or two care packages during the semester are fine, but we ask that this be a rare, special thing instead of a weekly occurrence.

Things that are great for care packages:

  • Tea is an excellent surprise! Students love to swap herbal and caffeinated tea flavors. Non-caffeinated coffee is welcome as well.
  • Crafting supplies are a great care package gift! Knitting, embroidery, friendship bracelet supplies, carving knives, art supplies, coloring books, art kits, etc.
  • Small, fun things to be shared with friends such as temporary tattoos, henna, wash-out hair dye, sudoku and crossword puzzle books, etc.
  • Stationary, postcards, and other writing supplies.
  • Magazines and newspapers. Appropriate content only, please.

Things to avoid:

  • We ask that no food be sent. We know this can be disappointing, and hard for the grandparents out there who love to send sweets, but we often have a slew of food allergies and sensitivities, and ask that all food come from our kitchen.
  • Similarly, we ask that things like powdered hot chocolate, apple cider mix, or any liquid drinks not be sent. Only tea or decaf coffee, please!
How should Amazon packages be addressed?

Sometimes there’s an emergency purchase that needs to happen, such as a lost headlamp that needs to be replaced, but we ask that regular Amazon packages not arrive throughout the semester. We want to move away from the “instant gratification of desire” to encouraging our community to be satisfied and make do with what we have.

The easiest way to get an emergency item is either directly from family or through our school store (see below).

Thank you for respecting this culture at OA by limiting packages and purchases throughout the semester.

How does the School Store work?

At the beginning of the semester, you will set up your school store account with our Office Manager. Then, during the semester, you can purchase stamps, pens, pencils, phone cards, notebook paper, and other school supplies if you run out. You can also purchase some awesome OA swag like Nalgene water bottles, hats, and Crazy Creek chairs.

If there is a specific need that comes up during the semester, such as a broken watch that needs to be replaced, we can run to a nearby store. However, this is the exception. Remember, simple living is our goal!

Please plant to bring enough shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, and other bathroom products to last through the semester. If you need more, you can have someone mail you more.

How should I plan to stay in (physical) shape during my semester?

We know many students are athletes and want to stay in shape for sports. We are moving every day at The Outdoor Academy, walking to classes, hiking up a small hill each morning for Morning Watch, and exercising our bodies throughout the week during work crew and outdoor programming classes. Each student will have a choice period during the day, and many students choose to take a run or work out during this time. We have basketball nets and tennis courts, an athletic field and soccer goals, yoga mats and weights. If you want to bring any special equipment for a sport, please reach out to the Dean of Students.

How should I plan to stay in (mental) shape during my semester?

Though we are not a therapeutic school, we know that many teenagers are working through life challenges. If a student has been seeing a therapist in the year before their semester at OA, we encourage them to continue seeing them via telehealth while at OA, or work with a local therapist in person. The Dean of Students will reach out to families before the semester begins to see how best we can support student’s mental health while away from home. We often find that students experience an increase in positive mental health while at OA because of the lack of technology and social media, the increase of being outside in the fresh air, and the sense of belonging and meaningful connections that are formed within our small, close-knit community.

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PACKING

Trunk vs. duffle vs. suitcase.... how should I pack?

Metal trunks are great (less than 12 inches high fits under the beds), but they can be expensive. Duffle bags are awesome as well and easier to store. The most important thing is to pack your outdoor gear in one bag (backpack or duffle), and the rest of your stuff in another duffle, suitcase, or trunk, as we will be needing to access the outdoor gear asap for Orientation Trek.

What will my dorm space be like? What storage does it have?

Each student has an entire cubby, and there are five large shelves in the cubby, each shelf measuring approximately 26 inches wide, 13 inches deep, and 11 inches high. If you want to bring some baskets or shelf dividers to help keep smaller things like socks and underwear organized, feel free.

Students will need to carry their toiletries to and from the bathroom in the cabin, so a small toiletry caddy that fits on their shelves is great. Students will keep all their clothes, books, toiletry caddy and personal items in their cubby.

See below for a picture of the cubbies (along with Emmaline, one of our faculty, for scale).

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Dorm Decorations

We want to encourage you to follow our “Simple Living” Principle, so don’t go huge with decorations. Students often like to bring photos of family, friends and pets to put up near the bed (a string and little clothespins work nicely for this). A small stuffed animal, a favorite quilt, or a small string of twinkly lights are fine (they need to be run by batteries, not plugged in because of fire hazards). Please don’t bring stickers, glow-in-the-dark stars, or other things that are hard to remove.

Books, Music, and USBs

Books: Definitely bring some books to read! Generally students bring no more than 4-5 books, and we’ll get a pretty great lending library going as you and your semester start sharing them throughout the cabins.

Music: We ask each student to send us a Spotify playlist of 15 songs (specific instructions will be emailed to you) that can be played publicly during our meal clean-ups. Please do not bring any CDs, USBs, or any music devices. We have a collection of records and CDs in the music building that you are welcome to use.

USBs and flash drives: Please DO NOT bring a USB, flash drive, hard drive, or any electronics (except your phone if you are flying, which we will store while you are here). We will provide you with a flash drive if needed for English papers, so please do not bring your own.

Instruments

You are welcome to bring your own instrument, and we have a climate-controlled music building to store them in. We have plenty of guitars, mandolins, and other bluegrass instruments that you can use during the semester if you don’t want to bring yours or want to learn a new instrument. We also have a piano, a drum kit, and many hand-drums.

Laundry Detergent

We provide laundry detergent (7th Generation), so no need to bring your own.

Handwarmers and blankets

Because most of our classes will be outside, a few hand warmers might be nice for chilly weather. Some students prefer to bring a small fleece blanket to wrap around their legs as they sit outside in their Crazy Creek for class. These are optional – your sleeping bag is also a great outdoor layer!