Discover what it’s like to live, work and play in the great outdoors of western North Carolina on this classic, multi-activity leadership course. The journey will take you deep into some of the oldest mountains in the world, over rocky mountain faces and through racing rivers. In the Pisgah and Nantahala National Forests, you and your crew work together to make their way through lush forests, cook their own meals, set up camp in the backcountry, navigate rivers by canoe, build trust belaying one another and learn Leave No Trace techniques to minimize your impact on the land. After long days of challenge and adventure, you will be rewarded with skills that will last a lifetime.
This course is closed for the season. 2018 courses coming soon.
No two Outward Bound expeditions are ever quite the same. Every crew is unique; every route is distinct; and every adventure is dynamic. But one thing remains the same. On each course, students rise to meet exhilarating natural challenges in some of the country’s wildest places – and find strength and determination along the way.
During this course, students will be backpacking in the Pisgah National Forest where they will learn safety precautions for backcountry foot travel, how to find campsites and how to navigate varied terrain using a map and compass, as well as how to do these activities responsibly using Leave No Trace principles. Equally important will be time spent learning conflict resolution, communication styles, leadership and team building. After practicing these skills, the instructors will step back and let the crew work together to collectively navigate through the wilderness.
Students will learn how to maneuver Class I-III level whitewater rapids. Paddling down local rivers in tandem (two person) canoes offers the perfect opportunity to foster collaboration and communication skills between crewmates. Students will execute synchronized strokes, dynamic eddy turns, peel-outs and ferries on either the French Broad or Tuckaseegee Rivers and occasionally on either The Chattooga, New or Nantahala Rivers. Some of the topics crews may cover during this portion of the course include basic water safety and rescue techniques, identification and use of equipment, how to work with paddling partners to successfully negotiate class l-III rapids and flat water, and whitewater paddling strokes.
After the initial few days of backpacking, students will take their challenge vertical by either climbing up a mountain or rappelling down one. With a focus on safety, instructors will start with the basics, such as working with ropes and learning to tie knots. Students will then put their skills to the test as they learn how to climb or rappel at some of the best climbing sites east of the Mississippi River. Depending on the weather and the dynamics within the group, the crew may even have the opportunity to experience a high ropes obstacle course. These activities will push students to step outside their comfort zones to communicate and trust one another.
A little more than halfway through course, students will participate in a reflection period called solo. During this time, Instructors assign students to their own individual campsites within a designated area. These sites are both secluded and within hearing distance of other group members and instructors for safety. Students will be given all the necessary gear, food, water and skills to enjoy this time alone. They will also know the location of their Instructors’ solo site should they need to contact them for any reason, and instructors will be monitoring students closely during this experience. This experience is a great opportunity for students to relax, recharge and reflect on their course after having long days of strenuous group activities.
Besides learning technical outdoor skills, longer courses also allow enough time to conduct a service project. Whether maintaining trails, partnering with nonprofits or helping at local farms and gardens, stewardship has long been a part of the mission and values of an Outward Bound program. These projects help students discover the true meaning of giving back to their community, the value of compassion, and their ability to lead.
Although 22 days or more seems like a long time, this course offers the optimal duration for getting the "classic’" Outward Bound experience. In addition to profound personal growth, as each student practices leadership and decision-making skills, 22-day courses allow for team development. Crews often go through four common phases of working in a team called forming, storming, norming and performing. Upon first forming, members are positive and often anxious as they try to understand what their role will be within the team. Through challenging circumstances, the crew often reaches a storming stage where they begin pushing against their teammates and circumstances. This is the turning point of the course as the team moves on to the next stage where they resolve their differences, ask each other for help and commit to a goal. Finally, teams excel in the performing phase, conquering previously unimaginable challenges together.
Blue Ridge Mountains, NC
The Southern Appalachians, including the Blue Ridge Mountains, are some of the oldest mountains in the world. While the mountains themselves formed over 250 million years ago, some of the rocks that underlie the region are over a billion years old.
The long geologic and evolutionary history of the Southern Appalachians has created one of the most biologically diverse regions in the temperate world. It is home to beautiful rushing rivers, hundreds of waterfalls and some of the highest peaks in the Eastern United States—including Mt. Mitchell (elevation 6,684 feet), the highest point east of the Mississippi River. Outward Bound students can expect to share the wilderness with over 700 different kinds of trees, more than 50 types of mammals, 150 different types of birds and over 50 species of amphibians.
This course area is situated within a million acres of national forests, federally-protected wilderness areas, and other public lands. Its diverse landscapes have been featured in many motion pictures, including The Hunger Games and The Last of the Mohicans.
Temperatures in this area range from 50 - 85 degrees in the summer, 30 - 65 degrees in the spring and fall, and 10 - 50 degrees in the winter.
"My own Outward Bound experience had been so rich and transformative that it would have felt like irresponsible parenting if I hadn’t insisted that my daughters go. They both chose two-week adventures the summer before their junior year in high school. Shortly after my youngest returned, she was recounting parts of her trip to me over lunch. Looking squarely at me across the table she said with conviction: 'I had no idea I was that mentally tough. I’m freakin’ invincible.'
"And it was something like that, that I sensed all those years ago. They don’t exactly offer 'Warrior Goddess' training in school, so the self-sufficiency and pluck I was so eager to instill in my girls had to be, at times, outsourced." - Cathia F., Parent
If you are ready to enroll on a course click the enroll button next to the course you wish to select or you can enroll over the phone by speaking with one of our Admissions Advisors (toll-free) at 866-467-7651.