The SUUSI nature program has officially adopted Leave No Trace (LNT) outdoor ethics. LNT is a program dedicated to building awareness, appreciation and respect for the great outdoors, particuraly public recreation places. We will be promoting the program as well as spreading the Leave No Trace message throughout the week during our activities.
Register early for trips, rather than wait until you arrive at SUUSI. We rent the vans based on advance registration. To keep costs down, we usually cancel trips with low registration before SUUSI, so don't wait to register.
If you don't get the trip you want when you pre-register, don't despair. You can often add more trips at registration on the first day of SUUSI. Even after SUUSI starts come by the Nature Tent throughout the week to see what trips still have spaces available.
Be at the Nature Tent 10-15 minutes before your trip is scheduled to leave. SUUSI is a magical vacation time, but the vans run on real-world time. We'll take stand-by Nature trippers just before we leave, so don't be late.
If a trip is full even at registration you are welcome to come to the Nature Tent 10 minutes before start time and check in as a standby. Yeah, we've discovered some folks really will oversleep... the nap workshop gets very popular starting about Wednesday of every SUUSI.
Since our trip leaders are all volunteers and must fulfill their responsibilities to everyone, we require any person needing one-on-one assistance at SUUSI to be accompanied on Nature trips by a caregiver who also registers for the trip. Each child under 14 must be accompanied by an adult who takes responsibility for that child's safety and behavior during the trip.
Register the kids too, whatever their age, if you want them to join you on a trip. Everyone on a trip has to register. Be sure each child and each adult signs up for a trip, so we can ensure there's a seat belt for everyone in the vans and handle other logistics. In Virginia, car seats are required for all children under 8 years old. Please bring the car seat to the Nature tent when you arrive for your trip.
The minimum age requirement is 14 years of age to take a Nature trip unless otherwise noted. To help you decipher the trip descriptions: 0+ means anyone can go, 12+ means anyone at least 12 years old at SUUSI registration can go, etc. The trips we have designated as Family Friendly are open to families with children less than 14 years old but are appropriate for children and adults of all ages. We encourage adults without children to participate in these trips.
You don't need to be athletic to "do Nature."
The requirements for trips are real. We emphasize safety, along with fun and companionship. If it's listed in the trip description, you really do have to wear approved footwear. Plan to bring water, flashlight, or other equipment as listed in the trip description. We want you to get into the natural setting at SUUSI - but we really do say "No" when we think the trip is a bad match for your skills or preparation. If you don't show up on time with the right gear, we may not allow you to participate.
Mother Nature has beautiful vistas and wondrous patterns but also tree roots in trails, rocks in rivers, rain in the sky... and the trip leaders can't provide a cocoon of protection against all natural hazards.
Don't make anyone depend on random acts of kindness. Nature workshops are group experiences as well as personal explorations, so please be considerate of others when deciding if you can handle a trip. We want you to stretch yourself, but not the patience of your companions.
On rare occasions we will change a trip's intended location to ensure safety. We cancel trips because of unsafe weather, not just because of rain. If we actually have to cancel a trip, your money will be refunded- or you can donate it to SUUSI. Refunds are not offered to people who don't come to the assembly point. If you have specific physical limitations or other questions, we can help you determine what trips are do-able. Anyone under physician's care should get their physician's permission before registering for trips. Trip leaders are under orders to "play it safe" and may not allow participants to go on trips they consider inappropriate.
In addition, extended childcare hours are available to allow parents with children in Youth programming to participate more easily (Please refer to the Youth section for a list of trips in which extended childcare hours apply). There are new adventures for everyone, as well as repeats of your favorites from past years.
Contact the Nature directors at [email protected] with specific questions.
Our Nature Program gets rave reviews and repeat trippers each year because of its low cost, high safety record, evolving choices, great camaraderie, and personal touch. Survey comments like:
“Plenty of Choices!”
“I felt very safe.”
“Leaders knew their subject and I learned interesting stuff.”
Some of our 90+ trips are physically easy; some demanding - even strenuous. We add new trips and adjust others every year, especially more family-friendly ones. Whether attending SUUSI as a first-timer or a veteran, schedule at least one Nature trip that is just calling you--just for the fun of it! You haven’t experienced SUUSI until you’ve done at least some Nature trips into the New River area with a community of lovely SUUSI people.
Nature Trips are clustered into 4 groups: Discovery, Aquatic, Hiking, and Adventure. Some start at 6am, others return near midnight; most run during the full morning and full afternoon. Trips run at all hours of the day and night--out in the cool mountains and valleys of the Shenandoah region of Virginia.
Children and Youth Programming is deliberately scheduled (8:45am-noon and 1:45pm-4pm) to release parents for a portion of Nature workshops’ duration. HOWEVER, you will need to consciously make your own childcare arrangements when Children and Youth Programming is closed. On-time pickup of kids is critical to keep our volunteer staff happy--so please return their favour with timely pickup.