Wilderness Orientation Program

Meet Some Great People in the Great Outdoors of Virginia

Note: dates are pending for 2015. Activities listed on this page will be similar to those offered for 2015. 


August 26-30, 2014

Before you begin your official Hollins adventure, have an outdoor adventure with HOP, the Hollins Outdoor Program.

Led by HOP director Jon Guy Owens and experienced Hollins students, the five-day wilderness orientation program will take you scaling the high ropes course at Camp Roanoke, canoeing down the James River, and running the rapids of Balcony Falls. You’ll also receive instruction in basic outdoor living skills. Best of all, you’ll meet people who just might turn out to be some of your best Hollins friends.

Space is limited to the first 10 students who register and pay.

How to register

Fill out the registration form on the brochure (PDF), and return it with payment to the address indicated by July 9, 2014.

  • Cost: $255, which includes travel, food, and T-shirt
  • Registration deadline: July 9, 2014

What to Bring

The Hollins Outdoor Program will provide all technical gear for the river and camping. If you have any of your own gear that you would like to use, please contact HOP director Jon Guy Owens: 540-362-6456 or jowens@hollins.edu.

Clothing to bring for the river:
  • Board shorts
  • Light top
  • Bathing suit
  • Sun hat
Clothing to bring for camp:
  • Rain jacket (rain pants are great but optional for this trip)
  • 2-3 pairs of shorts
  • 3-4 t-shirts
  • 4- 5 pairs of underwear
  • 4-5 pairs of socks
  • 1 pair of lightweight pants
  • Fleece jacket or top
  • Long underwear bottoms
  • River shoes (old sneakers are fine)
  • Camp shoes (no flip flips)
Items to bring for camp:
  • Flashlight or headlamp
  • Insulated mug
  • 2 1-liter water bottles
  • Sunglasses
  • Small daypack
  • Personal medications
  • Toiletries
  • Baby wipes
  • Contact lens solution
  • Camera (waterproof or with appropriate storage)
  • Journal (optional)
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug repellant


Saturday, August 26: Check in
  • Check in, move into dorm room
  • Group orientation and ice-breaker activities
  • Pack food and gear
Sunday, August 27: Camp Roanoke
  • High ropes course
  • Instruction in stove operation and tent setup
  • Camp that night at Camp Roanoke
Monday, August 28: James River
  • Buchanan to Arcadia Island
  • Instruction in packing a canoe, river safety, canoe strokes, reading white water
Tuesday, August 29: Arcadia Island to Alpine
  • Practice with eddy turns
Wednesday, August 30: Alpine to Snowden
  • Run the rapids of Balcony Falls
  • Return to campus

Trip leaders

Jon Guy Owens has directed HOP since 2001. He was born and raised in the Great Smoky Mountains near Cherokee, North Carolina, and got his start in adventure recreation as a river guide on the Nantahala River in North Carolina, while earning his undergraduate degree in therapeutic recreation. He is certified as: instructor/trainer from the Wilderness Education Association; wilderness first responder; and single pitch instructor from the American Mountain Guiding Association. He lives on campus with his wife, Anna Copplestone ’06, and son, Henry.

Devon Dovgan ’16 is a sociology major and gender and women’s studies minor. She is from Merritt Island, Florida. Before attending Hollins, she took a gap-year and worked in an inner city school in Miami through City Year. She went on the wilderness orientation trip as a first-year student and subsequently joined the downriver racing team. She lives on HOP Hall and spends a lot of weekends outdoors with HOP.

Jessica Michael ’17 is a biology major with a pre-vet track, from Roanoke. Before coming to Hollins she was not involved in many outdoor activities other than riding. As a first-year student, she went on the Wilderness Orientation Program and loved it so much that she joined the down-river racing team. She now lives on HOP Hall and spends many weekends outdoors. Her favorite activities are paddling and riding. She also rides for the Hollins riding team and is in the fencing club.

Holly Monger ’17 is from Richmond, which is three hours east of Roanoke, and is planning to major in biology. She’s involved in the Wilderness Adventure Club, or WAC, and Women of Hollins Outdoor Athletics, or WOAH, as well as the Hollins Outdoor Program, or HOP. In her free time she enjoys going on walks, oil painting, playing volleyball, and sitting in the sun. Her favorite outdoor activities are hiking, climbing, caving, and kayaking. She helps to plan many of HOP’s exciting trips: canoeing, hiking, kayaking, climbing, caving, riding, fishing, s’mores, and more! She says that the places they travel to are beautiful and always well worth the effort in getting there.