Canoe, portage and camp in the spirit of the French-Canadian voyageurs of 200 years ago as you move along a 150-mile stretch of pristine border country between the United States and Canada. For seasoned paddlers, this is a chance to learn and master new techniques, while individuals without prior experience gain substantial paddling competence and confidence each day. During the expedition, live simply, practicing low-impact wilderness travel and Leave No Trace outdoor ethics that promote conservation and sustainability. Additionally, participate in a backcountry or community service project, which adds an additional level of stewardship to the experience. The extended course length provides plenty of time to cultivate perseverance and develop an authentic sense of support and camaraderie. Amidst this ruggedly beautiful environment, make memories and learn lessons that last a lifetime.
The Boundary Waters courses have low student/staff ratios, seven or less students with two instructors allowing for more individualized attention and focus.
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.
Students complete an extended canoe expedition. This expedition includes learning the art of paddling a canoe in a variety of conditions, as well as map and compass reading, route finding and Leave No Trace wilderness living principles. Groups navigate a variety of waterways such as lakes, rivers and swamps, working as a team to carry packs and canoes over portage trails when transitioning from one lake to another or to get safely around challenging rapids. Traveling by canoe allows groups to go far past where motorboats operate; once there it is possible to quietly observe bald eagles, moose and peaceful sunsets on mirror-calm lakes.
Regardless of a student’s rock climbing background, they are sure to find something that engages them and encourages the expansion of their comfort zone. Students learn about general rock climbing equipment, safety and etiquette before learning how to belay. The half-day of rock climbing provides ample opportunities to climb, belay and rappel over the edge, eventually descending safely to the base of the majestic rock.
Looking out over the top of the boreal forest, the High Ropes Course is an incredible obstacle course set 30 feet in the air. Students swing from Tarzan ropes, walk on tightrope wires and climb a cargo net before jumping on the zip line for an exhilarating ride back to solid ground.
The program offers paddlers the opportunity to increase their skill and knowledge of whitewater paddling in small currents to progressively more challenging whitewater conditions. Emphasis is placed on greater boat control, safety and the thrill of whitewater paddling. A half day of whitewater kayaking contributes to the undeniable excitement of running whitewater. Students learn to “read” the river to determine the best routes through rushing waters while trusting themselves to make split second decisions, all of which adds to the exhilaration and jubilation of completing the expedition.
Service to others and the environment is a core value of Outward Bound and is integrated into each course. Participants follow Leave No Trace ethics as service to the environment and do acts of service while leading and supporting fellow participants. Designated service projects are coordinated with land managers like the US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and National Park Service to collaborate on land restoration projects. Some projects are more social services based, and participants may visit a nursing home or hospital to provide service there. Students develop a value of service, seeing the impact of their actions firsthand and transfer this desire to serve their communities back home.
The solo experience provides an important break from the rigors of the expedition and gives students the opportunity to reflect on their Outward Bound experience. Many students use this reflection time to make decisions about their future, journal and enjoy the beauty of their surroundings unencumbered by the constant external stimulation of modern life. The duration of solo depends on the course length and type, as well as the competency and preparedness of the student group. With all the food, skills and supplies they need, participants are given a secluded spot to reflect alone and are monitored by staff throughout the experience to maintain safety. Students find that solo provokes profound and powerful learning in a short period of time and often becomes one of the most memorable parts of their Outward Bound experience.
Courses are offered in a variety of locations and for different lengths to provide a range of programming, from which participants can choose the optimal experience for them. Longer courses allow for a full immersion into the Outward Bound experience, more time to practice wilderness travel and the opportunity to experience both success and failure to promote personal growth.
Adult courses focus on communication skills, character competency, awareness of others and finding a sense of purpose. Regardless of course type, students can expect to get comfortable living and working together in the wilderness while creating a solid foundation of skill sets they can continue to build on after course.
Established in 1964, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) is a labyrinth of lakes and rocks that has been specifically protected as a true American wilderness; no roads, power lines or motorized craft may enter its borders. Therefore the Boundary Waters has changed little since its unveiling when the glaciers melted 10,000 years ago. Over 1 million acres in size, the BWCAW extends nearly 150 miles along the Canadian border. With over 1,200 miles of canoe routes, nearly 2,200 designated campsites and more than 1,000 lakes and streams, the BWCAW is an amazing place to experience the wilderness.
The BWCAW contains portage-linked lakes and streams, interspersed with islands, forests and crags. It has no piped water, prepared shelters or signs to point the way. Within these borders students can canoe, portage and camp in the spirit of the French-Canadian Voyageurs of 200 years ago. The Boundary Waters' 1,200 miles of paddling routes offer outstanding opportunities for solitude, remoteness, teamwork, adventure and challenge.
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.