The University of Virginia's Cavalier Outdoor Adventure Retreat (COAR) is a unique three-day orientation, run by UVA Outdoor Recreation, that brings incoming first years on a camping trip to Shenandoah National Park (SNP). COAR attendees will get the chance to hike to waterfalls, enjoy scenic mountain views, stay in a primitive Potomac Appalachian Trail Club (PATC) cabin or SNP campground and meet 10 of their closest friends. Each trip is comprized of 5 males, 5 females and is typically led by a male and female COAR Leader.

Not an experienced hiker? That's okay! We provide all necessary camping/backpacking equipment. Refer to the FAQs and information below for more details and call 434-924-3791 to register. You will need to register for orientation before you can register for COAR.

Read the UVAToday Article


We love COAR but don't just take it from us! Hear from past participants:

"I don't think I've ever gotten to know a group so well so quickly: and not in a superficial way but in a raw and honest way that allowed us to truly appreciate the beauty of nature and our peers. I love knowing that, going to UVA in the fall, I already have people that make it feel like home. I'm so lucky that UVA has this program"

"Especially for first years who are coming from out of state, COAR is a great experience. Immediately having a friend group makes the transition to college much easier. This trip tested my boundaries and in many ways acted as a personal journey with nine other great friends in the beautiful wilderness"

"After the fast-paced intensity of orientation, COAR provided the perfect opportunity to relax and really get to know my future classmates. This was my first backpacking/primitive living experience, and it proved to be one of my favorite trips. I couldn't be more glad that I joined in"

"We started out the way any group of new UVA students would: awkwardly friendly, polite, uncomfortable, and nervous. As the trip progressed, we got comfortable both with talking to each other as well as with remaining silent. I feel like I am going to start school with 12 friends I wouldn't have otherwise, and for that I am very grateful. The adventures were great, but the fellowship made it for me"

Met group & drove to beautiful Shenandoah National Park

Day 1

Cooked the group a spaghetti dinner on our camp stove

Day 2

Beautiful waterfalls on our hike this morning

Day 3

Can't wait to see everyone again in the fall! Click for more photos

Day 4

Explore the Route

  • Day 1

    Welcome to COAR! The orientation will begin at 5 pm at the Aquatic & Fitness Center located at 450 Whitehead Rd. Staff will check over equipment, check out any supplemental gear you may need (per packing list) and introduce you to the others in the group. Dinner is provided and you'll drive to the Shenandoah National Park and spend the first night camping.

  • Day 2

    After breakfast your group will head out on your first hike to some great views of mountain ridgelines and vistas across the Shenandoah Valley. You'll be back at camp for dinner, sunset, games and slacklining.

  • Day 3

    On the third day, you'll enjoy a longer hike with scenic views, creeks and waterfalls. This hike will be approximately 8 miles long. The group will hike at an enjoyable pace to make this the main event of the day, spend time at waterfalls, etc. The hike will be followed by a big dinner back at camp, as well as stargazing and a campfire (if weather permits).

  • Day 4

    You can sleep in a bit longer and pack up camp after breakfast. You'll arrive back in Charlottesville by late morning, return gear, take showers and enjoy going out to lunch together on the Corner. You'll arrive back at the Outdoor Recreation Center by 1:30 PM.

UVA 2018 COAR Dates


Contact Us

Phone number: 434-924-3791


Website designed by: Rebecca Katcher, COAR Founder