ADK Expeditions FAQs

Is the program safe?
Safety is very important to us. La Vida has been in operation for 45 years and has a very good safety record. If you have additional questions about this program, please contact our office at 978.867.4111 or email 

If I hurt myself, who is qualified to help me?
Your leaders will be certified by the Wilderness Medical Associates at the Wilderness Advanced First Aid or Wilderness First Responder level. The Department of Environmental Conservation Rangers in the Adirondacks can also be called in for emergencies and there are phones posted at ranger stations throughout the park.

How many participants will be on an expedition?
Groups range from 6–10 participants per group and two La Vida leaders per group. These small groups allow for participants to be active in the group, form new friendships, and learn new leadership skills.

Are there male and female counselors who can meet the potential personal gender needs of participants?
Yes, each group has one female and one male La Vida Sherpa. The average student to leader ratio is 4 or 5:1.

Are meals provided?
All meals are provided except for lunch on the travel days to and from New York. For these travel days, participants should bring $20 for food.

If I'm afraid of heights, do I have to rock climb or rappel?
No, not necessarily. La Vida incorporates challenges designed to promote growth and perseverance on a “challenge by choice” basis, and no one is forced to complete them.

What is meant by 'Challenge by Choice'?
You will be presented with many challenges while on La Vida, and it is up to you how you will respond to those challenges. All we ask is that you give your best effort. No experience or above average physical strength is needed—just a desire for growth, adventure and fun. La Vida has redefined success. It is not always dependent upon completing activities and is not based on comparison. La Vida creates encouraging environments that motivate participants to push themselves past their preconceived limits. We do not use (nor allow others to use) peer pressure to coerce people into doing activities.

What if I have never camped before?
Most people who do La Vida have never camped before. Your Sherpas will teach you effective camping skills and the group will work together to accomplish the daily camp chores.

Which is harder? Hiking or canoeing?
Both hiking and canoeing are challenging in their own ways. We recommend that people who have a history of knee or back problems choose a canoe trip.

Will we travel every day on the expedition?
You will be canoeing or backpacking most days of the expedition part of the program. This means that you have chances to see the lakes and rivers of the Adirondack State Park, develop your canoeing and backpacking skills, set up camps at different sites and become efficient travelers. You will canoe or backpack all your gear as you travel to different campsites. The groups travel approximately 5 miles a day; however, each itinerary is different.

Where will we sleep?
Most nights you will sleep in tents that are separated by gender. Under some circumstances you will spend the night in a lean-to or under a large tarp where males and females are separated.

Are there any showers?
No, there is no running water while you are on the expedition. You may clean up in a stream, but soap can only be used 150 feet away from any lake, river, or stream. You will have plenty of opportunity to rinse off in the water. In addition to this, you can bring baby wipes and hand sanitizer with you on the expedition. You will be able to change into clean clothes before departing from the La Vida base camp on the final day of your trip.

What is the solo experience?
The solo is a unique chance to step back from the normal distractions of life and realize what is important to you, set goals for the future and realize what you are thankful for in your life. The solo also offers participants the chance to practice the classic disciplines of solitude, simplicity and silence as well as fasting and prayer. Participants are placed approximately 100 feet from each other and given the space to read, journal and spend time in nature while under the close supervision of the La Vida Sherpas. 

Do I have to fast on the solo?
The majority of people do fast on their solo unless they are diabetic, hypoglycemic or have an eating disorder. If you choose not to fast, food can be provided or you can do a partial fast with a smaller amount of food. Your leaders will prepare you, support you and ask that you give it a try. They will be checking on you a few times during the day. Fasting has a long history, and many others before you have chosen to try it. It is a chance to give up something so that you can grow in your faith.

What is the final challenge?
La Vida's final challenge is a run, not a race. You may want to challenge yourself and run the whole way for your own personal record or you may run with a small group or a buddy. Many do not run the whole way, but run a little and then walk some. Again, all that we ask is that you do your best.

What if I have medication that I need to take daily?
All medications will be placed in the first aid kit and must have an accompanied prescription label. The Sherpas (trip leaders) will log and dispense according to directions. We cannot dispense unlabeled medication. Additionally, we are not allowed to give out OTC medications on an “as needed” basis to anyone under 18 years of age. OTC medications may only be dispensed if a written prescription from a doctor is provided. If you are under 18 at the start of your expedition and need to take medication, you must have your physician fill out the Authorization for Administration of Medication at Camps.

What if I have a food allergy or bee allergy?
If you have an allergy that requires the use of an EpiPen, you will need to bring your own EpiPen in addition to the ones the leaders carry in the first-aid kit. Our staff have handled many allergies and can accommodate most food needs. Please contact lavida@gordon.edu to discuss your food options. We cannot accommodate food preferences but can assist with medical dietary needs.

What if I can’t afford all the equipment? Can I borrow anything?
La Vida has a large assortment of boots, socks and clothing that can be rented for a small cleaning fee if you prefer to not buy all your own equipment. Quantities are limited, though, so if you have a need, please let us know and we can reserve them for you.