Everyone knows that feeling you get when you arrive somewhere and know instantly- you brought too much stuff.

Like that scene in the cinematic masterpiece Legally Blonde where Elle Woods shows up to Harvard (potentially right alongside OA director Glenn, or even some OA alumni) with a packed convertible and a moving truck.

Maybe you’ve had nightmares about going on a big vacation and you bring five suitcases and everyone else has one backpack. We’ve all been there.

However, when you’re packing for a semester at The Outdoor Academy, we’re here to help so that you arrive looking like the cool and perfectly packed teen that you are!

First off, it’s a huge decision to decide to spend a semester away at OA. We’re proud of the work you’ve done to get here and are always so excited for the arrival of any new semester. On your end, and ours, there’s a lot of work that goes into preparing to arrive at OA. While we’re busy cleaning campus, making class schedules, and prepping for O-Trek, we know you’re at home scouring the packing list wondering if you’re getting it right.

Odds are, you’re closer than you think. To give you a better idea of what packing for OA really looks like though, here are a few tips on what works best, as well as some items our alumni say are worth having.

Here are some tips on what to bring to OA and how to pack it:

  • Use the packing list. Our packing list is perfectly curated with exactly what you will need. The amount of clothing, gear, etc. that we ask you to bring really is enough to get you through the semester. If you’re a person who really loves being cozy and feel like 2 sweatshirts isn’t enough, we can assure you that the wood stoves that heat up our buildings will make up for not having every hoodie you own.
  • Pack in something that will fit under your bed. Don’t get us wrong, we think trunks are cool too. And if that’s what you have, that’s fine. However, packing in a squishable suitcase or large duffel bag may make it easier to store your bags somewhere out of the way.
  • Don’t feel like you need to spend a ton of money on new things. Most OA students use at least some gear from our Gear Lending Library. So if you don’t have a puffy jacket or fleece pants, or if buying a pair would be a financial hardship, then we’d love for you to borrow one from the GLL! Another great option is thrift stores, you can get lots of great gear second hand which we highly recommend!
  • Bring items that you aren’t afraid to get dirty, but also bring items you like to wear. Yes, there are times where we want you to wear clothes you don’t really mind messing up. But overall, when you’re on campus it’s just a normal school day, and we want you to feel like you. So, there’s no need to wear only old clothes or only trek clothes. Most students go to class wearing jeans and normal (dare we say, trendy?) shoes.

What about items you may not think of at first? Here is a list from some recent alumni of items that you may end up using all the time at OA:

  • Organizational boxes. These will help you to keep your shelves organized and keep your area from becoming too messy.
  • List of phone numbers/ addresses. While you won’t have a personal phone at OA, we do have a landline in the Sunlodge that all students share. It can be super helpful to go ahead and write down the phone number of a few close friends and family you may want to stay in touch with while you’re here. Also, if you want to write someone a letter, it’s great to go ahead and have their address on hand!
  • Crazy Creek-style camp chair. This can be so nice to have for trek and also during class outside. If you don’t have one already, you can even purchase one through OA once you arrive!
  • A fun mug and a few of your favorite teas. Nothing beats walking to class with a nice mug of warm tea!
  • Tape/ push pins. It’s important that you feel at home while you’re at OA. A big part of that is hanging a few photos or decorations around your bed. (Something like this 👇)

Overall, when you’re packing for OA, the best thing to keep in mind is being intentional with what you bring. We want you to have items that will keep you comfy but only bring it if you see yourself using it regularly. Also, remember that we have a school store for a reason. If there’s something that you forget, or if you run out of shampoo, we can go get it.

Now get excited, get packing, and get here! We can’t wait!