This 28-day course consists of a three-week canoeing expedition and a one-week transition phase with a family conference. This expedition is geared towards young women who are struggling with low self-image, engaging in potentially risky behaviors, not living up to their potential and poor decision making skills. During these expeditions, our instructors facilitate activities that focus on building teamwork skills, better decision making, freedom versus responsibilities at home, and help each student to find the leader in each of themselves. During the family conference at the end of course, the instructors focus how each student can take these skills home so that they and their family can move forward in a positive direction.
Intercept is an Outward Bound program intended to serve teens and their families as they navigate difficult transitions in their relationships. The typical Intercept student is beginning to make poor life choices and perhaps heading in unhealthy or unproductive directions. Intercept serves these teens and their families by addressing problematic behaviors ranging anywhere from poor school performance or defiance at home to social disengagement through electronics or experimentation with drugs and alcohol. The Intercept curriculum is designed to address these behaviors by approaching root issues such as low motivation, low self-confidence, difficulty managing and expressing emotions and lack of assertive communication skills.
Intercept expeditions are highly structured with explicit wilderness, communication and leadership skills progressions, as well as time on the course devoted to preparing for the family conference at course-end. This conference is an opportunity for Instructors to share with parents many of the same skills and tools taught to students while in the field. The conference is a conversation, facilitated by the Instructor where parents and teens will use the tools and skills learned at Outward Bound to develop a plan for going home so the family can move forward in a positive direction.
Intercept expeditions begin at the Duluth International Airport where students meet their teammates as they arrive and then drive further north to the first campsite. During the first day of course, Instructors acquaint students to each other, the gear they will be using for the next three weeks of wilderness travel as well as help re-pack personal gear into packs we provide. Depending on the weather, students might paddle, swim or spend some time sitting around your first campfire as they enjoy the first trail-meal together. When the mosquitoes arrive it’s probably time for bed. Everyone will crawl into their tents and sleeping bags and start getting used to the sounds of the Northwoods while drifting off into sleep for the night.
In the morning students pack up camp, have breakfast and travel to the wilderness area entry site. For the next couple of weeks they will marvel at just how far one can travel without any sign of human activity while paddling and portaging their way from campsite to campsite and learning the skills necessary to survive and even live comfortably. Throughout the expedition, students will participate in group discussions surrounding leadership, independent decision-making, goal setting, freedom vs. responsibility, choices made vs. consequence and teamwork.
During the expedition everyone will learn how to maneuver boats, set-up camp, cook meals over a fire and navigate with a map and compass. As the team overcomes numerous expedition challenges, each will develop a greater belief in oneself and trust in one another. Students often report feeling more self-confident, self-reliant and motivated during and after their Outward Bound experience. Successful completion of course will require more than the mastery of technical skills; the interpersonal and leadership skills developed while working as team will prove to be just as important as anything else that is learned.
This expedition will also include a few layover days providing an opportunity to rock climb, work on team-building initiatives, and possibly participate in some whitewater paddling lessons.
Towards the end of the expedition there is a Solo experience. Solo is an opportunity to practice the skills learned as well as reflection of the experience to date. Instructors will check-in on each day and have one on one conversations with each student regarding what has been learned on the expedition, how the transition home can be viewed in a positive way and what is necessary to do in order to prepare for the family conference at the end of the course. The self-reliance practiced during the solo can be one of the most profound and rewarding aspects of the expedition.
Soon after Solo, students exit the wilderness and make their way back to basecamp for the Transition phase of your course. The team will engage in gear clean up before taking some time to relax and potentially swim in the nearby Kawishiwi River. After all gear has been cleaned and returned, students have to opportunity to show themselves just how far they’ve come by completing the traditional, post-course wilderness triathlon, and exploring their boundaries on the High Ropes Course.
At the end of the wilderness phase of course, students enjoy a final banquet to celebrate all that they have accomplished before heading off for the first piping hot shower in three weeks. That afternoon the group will head down to Duluth to begin service projects before meeting their parents on day two of the family conference. On the last day of course, students and parents will travel back home together.
The Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) is a one million acre, 150 mile stretch of protected wilderness along the Minnesota/Canadian border. Unlike much Forest Service land, which is logged for timber and paper, this wilderness area is intended solely for human recreation and wildlife habitat protection, and meant to stand alone as untouched green space. No roads, power lines, or engines are used within its borders without special permission from the Forest Service.
The landscape consists of thousands of lakes carved out of granite by glaciers nearly 10,000 years ago. These lakes sit within a boreal forest, the world’s largest biome, consisting of granite precipices, spruce and tamarack wetlands, and stands of pines and cedars anywhere from hundreds to nearly one thousand years old. Lakes are linked by flowing waterways which frequently include waterfalls or rapids that canoeists must avoid by travelling over-land on portage trails. Portage trails are typically less than half a mile long, although a few extend several miles around cascading rivers or unnavigable wetlands.
While traveling through the BWCAW, students may see evidence of wildlife such as moose, deer, beaver, bald eagles and other species native to this area.