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
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
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….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, 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 Rocky Branch Community, 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 one day volunteering in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, one day at Sequoyah Museum, one day volunteering in the Rocky Branch community, and one day homesteading at Once Upon A Time

Rafting the Ocoee River - click to enlarge
We are located on 7 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.

2020-21 News and Notes
We actually hosted some schools in January, February, and the first week in March 2020 before Covid hit: Keene State, Univ North Alabama, Ohio State Univ, and American University. The rest of the schools for the year cancelled. Covid was still a concern in 2021 so we didn’t have any students this Spring. Very quiet and lonely! But the good news is that schools are starting to make reservation for 2022. Sequoyah Excellence Award

The BIG news is that Ed and I are semi-retiring and turning over Once Upon A Time to younger leadership, Wanda, Scott, and Case DeWaard. They have helped us with Breakaway for the past 10 years so we are confident they will continue the tradition of service, education, hospitality and fun. They also have a farm just outside of Maryville and will provide lodging and some meals. The focus issues will remain the same—the Cherokee Indians, the environment, rural Appalachia and sustainable living.

Rocky Branch Award
Video: Ohio State students build hiking trail in Snowbird Cherokee community.

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