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.

2015 News & Notes

My how time flies when you’re having fun! When we started the Once Upon A Time Breakaway program in 2007, we said we would do it for ten years. Well, 2016 will be our tenth year—but we’re not ready to give it up yet!! So we’ll keep on keeping on as long as we’re able. There aren’t enough words to describe how rewarding it is to work with so many compassionate, thoughtful, passionate young people who want to make our world a better place and serve others.

We made a pact this year to not build anything new, just make improvements to existing facilities. So there’s siding on the Room With A View cabin and the Breakaway Dining Hall addition, there’s a new door and ceiling on the Shower House, a covered walkway on the side of the Dining Hall, handrails and deck railing on Blue’s Mountain Cottage, front porch railing on Room With a View cabin.

We had guests from South Africa, New Zealand, and Australia this year after the World Long Range Muzzleloading Championships held in North Carolina. They were amazed at the beauty of Bald River Falls, Cades Cove and the Smoky Mountains, and The Dragon!

In celebration of our 10th year of Once Upon A Time Breakaway, we are planning a reunion in 2016. We will email and Facebook details to all Breakaway alumni.


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