On this exciting and demanding course, you’ll explore the art and science of water-based wilderness expeditions and acquire the personal, group leadership and technical skills to teach and travel safely on our wide, Blue Planet. Start with the most ancient and traditional of marine skills: sailing and navigation in the sub-tropical waters of the Florida Keys. Then fly to Costa Rica to paddle some of the Western Hemisphere’s most exciting whitewater, experience the power of surfing and become a certified lifeguard. Finally, head to Panama to get certified in SCUBA and embark on an unforgettable sea kayaking expedition in the turquoise waters of the famed Bocas Del Torro archipelago on the Caribbean coast.
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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 with the other students using only wind and oars as propulsion. As students rotate responsibilities during this expedition, they learn the crafts of maneuvering under sail and oar, navigating coastal waters, 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.
During whitewater training students acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to paddle class two, three, and possibly four rapids. For two weeks the group follows the water around Costa Rica, paddling several rivers and setting out on one-day trips and two- to four-day expeditions. Depending on water levels, students paddle in inflatable kayaks or learn to guide a raft. During this section students complete their Whitewater Rescue Technician course. The Whitewater Rescue Technician (WRT) course is designed specifically for professional guides, private boaters, fish and game personnel, and others who work or play on or around flowing water. Students benefit from intensive, hands-on course experience and learn to use techniques and simple equipment to assess and perform river rescues. The emphasis is on speedy, low-tech and improvised rescue techniques that are effective and require minimal equipment.
The group spends a week on the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, living on the beach and learning to surf. Surf training begins on the sand, learning about waves, surfboards, and how to stand. From there students move out to smaller breaking waves to develop their balance and timing. As their skills progress, they eventually paddle out for some of the larger surf. Students with previous surfing experience may progress faster. In addition to surfing, the group volunteers at nature preserves or wildlife rescue centers along the coast.
The group embarks on a two-week sea kayaking expedition in the remote archipelago of Bocas Del Torro, Panama, consisting of some 68 islands located near the Caribbean border with Costa Rica. This section begins on the island of Solarte, where the group spends one to two days planning and packing for the expedition as well as practicing paddling and rescues for kayak-based expedition travel. This section has a strong cultural immersion component with homestays in many of the villages of this tropical lagoon. The lagoon is home to several cultures including the indigenous Guaymi-Ngobe people.
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.
This course focuses on developing the leadership and technical skills necessary to begin a career as an instructor or expedition leader in wilderness environments or to take on challenging and versatile roles in a variety of other fields. Outward Bound’s leadership curriculum is based on over 50 years of leading expeditions. Students will refine the way they meet challenges and opportunities, relate to others and view their world. Technical skill development is a robust and challenging component of this semester program. Whether students want to pursue a career as a guide or outdoor educator, strive to become more proficient and safe when traveling alone or with friends and family or aspire to develop the capacity to lead in an adventurous setting, this course will expand their skill base through the instruction of experienced specialists
Home to numerous birds and abundant marine life, the region owes its productivity to the confluence of water flowing out of the Everglades into inner Florida Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. The backcountry of Florida Bay offers challenging shoal draft navigation and the opportunity to explore mangrove keys, tidal flats and coral patch reefs. These warm, shallow waters provide an exciting cruising area for Outward Bound’s sailing boats and some of the best training ground for developing advanced sailing skills. The Atlantic side offers excellent open water sailing and snorkeling at the outer reefs. The course area extends to the Everglades, with beautiful sand beaches and a maze of rivers and bays to explore.
Costa Rica and Panama
The coastal and river environments of Costa Rica provide a perfect backdrop to expand wilderness travel skills. This small tropical nation is fast becoming a renowned destination for whitewater rafting, surfing, rainforest trekking and eco-adventures. About the size of West Virginia, Costa Rica has a variety of climates, including tropical dry forest, rainforest and cloud forest. Due to its mountainous landscape and tropical rainfall, Costa Rica boasts more whitewater rivers than any other country of its size. The warm tropical rivers cut through lush rainforest and create an ideal rafting playground. From the rivers, the group heads to the beach for the surfing phase. The Pacific Ocean provides Costa Rica with exceptional surf conditions year-round for beginner to advanced surfers.
The final phase of the program is located in Panama, where the group learns two technical skills: SCUBA diving and sea kayak expeditioning. The Bocas del Torro archipelago is a tropical island paradise consisting of some 68 islands located near the Caribbean border with Costa Rica. The islands are home to a rich, heterogeneous culture including the indigenous Guaymi-Ngobe people, who are direct descendants of the original inhabitants of these islands and the afro-Caribbean Bastimentenos. The Guaymi communicate in both Spanish and their traditional language, of which there are only about 2,000 fluent speakers left in the world. Their dwellings are typically constructed on stilts over the water with grass-thatched roofs. Several small communities and outlying homesteads host the group as students explore the region in expedition sea kayaks. The Guaymi-Ngobe community on the island of Solarte is our staging ground for the SCUBA element of the course.
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.