Once Upon a Time Breakaway




Quartz Arrowhead

"When you were born, you cried and the world rejoiced. Live your life so that when you die, the world cries and you rejoice." ~ Cherokee Proverb
Nestled between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Cherokee National Forest in East Tennessee is a wilderness retreat called...
Once Upon ~ a ~ Time Wilderness Adventures - HOMEBreakaway
A magical place where Cherokee
Once made their home
Where eagles nest
And bear still roam


Once Upon a Time Breakaway Once Upon a Time Breakaway Once Upon a Time Breakaway Once Upon a Time Breakaway Once Upon a Time Breakaway Once Upon a Time Breakaway Once Upon a Time Breakaway
Respect….take only what you need….the earth is Our Mother….the Fish Game….we do not have a word in our language for goodbye. These are some of the many things you will learn from the Cherokee people.

Smoky Mountains - click to enlarge
The Great Smoky Mountains
Click here to view a 3 minute video!

Video produced by University of Wisconsin-River Falls Digital Film and Television students led by Asst. Professor Erik L. Johnson. Production Crew: Samuel Azazu, Jonathan Reid, Chad Reterrath, Katelyn Sather, and Daniel Tyler.

Hard work….get dirt on your hands….challenge yourself to do things you've never done before….rescue trees….clean up creeks….repair a trail….plant trees….build something….make and can blackberry jam….split firewood….plant a garden. These are some of the many things you will experience volunteering at Once Upon A Time, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Cherokee National Forest, and Sequoyah Museum.

Play….make new friends….learn about different cultures….plunge into a cold mountain creek….swap tall tales around the bonfire….learn to "give and take" with your group members….walk through the woods at night….sing the Native American Morning Song each morning to greet the new day. These are some of the things you will do with your fellow Breakaway adventurers.

Once Upon A Time is an approved host site for Breakaway, a national nonprofit organization linking college students with communities to perform service projects addressing a variety of social, cultural, and environmental needs. We were named 2007 Host Site of the Year and were one of five finalists for 2010 Host Site of the Year.
Rafting the Ocoee River - click to enlarge
We have been working with Breakaway groups since 1996. For more information about Breakaway, visit their website at www.alternativebreaks.org.

Our mission focuses on the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation, the environment, and rural Appalachia. We cooperate with several area agencies and communities: the Snowbird Cherokee community in Robbinsville, NC, Cherokee National Forest, Sequoyah Museum, and Great Smoky Mountains National Park. A unique aspect of our program is that we offer a variety of service projects during the week. A typical week involves two days in the Snowbird Cherokee community, one day in either Cherokee National Forest or Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and one day homesteading at Once Upon A Time or volunteering at Sequoyah Museum.

Rafting the Ocoee River - click to enlarge
We are located on 40 acres in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains, about 30 minutes southeast of Maryville, Tennessee. There are no streetlights or traffic lights here. Maybe your cell phone will work and maybe it won't. But we do have spectacular mountain vistas, abundant wildlife, and good old Appalachian mountain hospitality.

2016 News & Notes

2016 was a milestone year—our 10th year to host alternative break students! The program has grown from one cabin sleeping 12 people in 2007, to four cabins sleeping up to 44 in 2016. We’ve had the honor and pleasure to meet 1,567 outstanding young people who want to learn and serve and make a difference in our world. The students hail from 33 states, 61 foreign countries, and 81 different schools. That’s a LOT of biscuits!

We’re looking forward to 2017 and beyond, as long as our health permits. We couldn’t do it without the help of the students, our interns, cook, and community partners.


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