A series of distinctive expeditions traverse some of the Americas’ most beautiful and unique wilderness areas – and offer breathtaking learning opportunities every step of the way. Learn skills for sailing, wilderness medicine, mountain trekking, river canoeing, whitewater rescue, lifeguarding, service projects, rural homestays and canyoneering. Through careful instruction, hands-on trainings and intensive skills clinics, you’ll master the craft of wilderness leadership and travel. Earn Wilderness First Responder (WFR), Leave No Trace Trainer, Swiftwater Rescue Technician and American Red Cross Waterfront Lifeguarding certifications along the way.
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This course may be full or preparing to leave in the next week. Please call us at 866-467-7651 to discuss your options.
Our Gap Year and Semester expeditions take you out of the classroom – and into the world. These courses are all about cultivating independence, developing technical skills, and engaging with the people and places around you. Learn from the best Instructors in the industry. Tackle challenges alongside a supportive crew of motivated peers. Amidst rugged natural landscapes, learn to lead and to follow; to give and receive feedback; and to trust in your own capabilities.
Outward Bound is accredited with the American Gap Association and is the longest running program in this elite group dedicated to providing safe, meaningful and high-caliber educational experiences to students.
Our traditional 30-foot sailboats encourage teamwork and leadership like no other classroom. On an open boat with no cabin and no engine, students live closely together, using only wind and oars as propulsion. As they rotate responsibilities, students learn the crafts of maneuvering under sail, coastal navigation, rowing and living aboard a small open boat. At night, students sleep on deck under a tarp, taking turns at anchor watch under brilliant night skies.
Students learn to:
Wilderness First Responder (WFR) certification is recognized as the standard level of expertise in backcountry first aid. This nationally recognized program trains participants to respond to emergencies in remote settings. The 80-hour curriculum includes standards for extended care situations. Half of students’ time is spent completing practical skills, case studies and scenarios designed to challenge their decision-making abilities.
After planning and packing at base, the group begins a multiday backpacking expedition, travelling both on and off trail through the Mantiqueira wilderness and navigating toward the village of Campina. Travelling with all the food and gear the group will need, students are able to reach remote mountains and valleys several days away from the nearest town or road. During this phase, students participate in trainings focused on advanced navigation skills, search and rescue and South American flora and fauna identification.
The trekking expedition ends with the group hiking into an organic farm outside the village of Campina. Working with the organization Biosíto Pedra do Gavião, the group learns about the environmental and economic struggles of rural Brazil and help complete ongoing work in the village. While volunteering in Campina, students work on eco-building projects, using locally sourced natural materials to rebuild houses and farms for village families. During the service phase, students spend half of the time camping as a group and two nights away from their group at a homestay with a local family. During the homestay, students have a chance to practice Portuguese, share in family meals, learn about Brazilian culture by living it and do small projects to help the host families.
Rescue 3 International’s Swiftwater Rescue certification is the industry standard among whitewater river guides and fire departments. In this hands-on training, students practice the skills necessary to manage whitewater emergencies. During drills and scenarios, students work as a team to execute increasingly difficult rescues.
Rock climbing sessions take place at the many granite crags and cliffs of Pedra de Baú, a rock spire amid the small farms and banana plantations outside of Sao Bento. Students learn how to properly use harnesses, helmets, ropes, belay devices, slings, cams and nuts. The group starts with the basics of tying in to the rope and safely belaying each other, and practice efficient movement over rock using techniques of friction, edging and crack climbing. As students build experience and skills, they develop more advanced climbing techniques and get a chance to practice multi-pitch climbing and explore the many rock faces of Pedra de Baú.
The semester wraps up with a three-week expedition designed to test the group and all of their new outdoor and leadership skills. The expedition begins with a river trip canoeing the Rio Paraña. Canoes offer students the chance to travel to pristine campsites and easily carry all the gear they need for a multi-week remote expedition. The group learns to navigate the river and paddle increasingly difficult rapids. The canoe trip ends on the Rio dos Almas with a visit to a remote Kalunga village, where students visit a farm and participate in service work. From here the group treks across the plateaus, jungles and grasslands of the Chapada. Along their hiking route the group has the chance to descend two or three canyons. In order for the group to make it to the bottom of each canyon, students work together to rappel down waterfalls and swim through the clear pools cut deep into the steep sides of Chapada’s plateaus.
Service projects are often incorporated into Outward Bound courses through coordination with local land managers, conservation groups, government agencies or social service agencies. While on expedition, students are encouraged to practice service to the environment and their team by sharing responsibilities and following Leave No Trace ethics throughout the course.
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. With sufficient food and equipment, students will set up camp at sites of their own, using the wilderness skills learned during the first half or two-thirds of the course. The time students spend on solo depends on the length of the course. On one-week courses, solo is four to12 hours long; on courses three weeks or longer, solo will be up to 72 hours.
Often located along beautiful shorelines or peaceful rivers, campsites are chosen to offer as much solitude as possible (yet be within emergency whistle-signaling distance of other group members). Most students spend their Solo time journaling, drawing, or just thinking and resting as they process lessons of the course to focus on their goals for the future. Instructors check on each participant at least daily.
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.