This is your opportunity to seek fresh challenges in a unique wilderness environment and an intense team setting. As you move through mountains, lakes and rivers, learn to camp and travel simply, relying on each other and what you can carry with you. In a phased teaching progression, acquire beginning, intermediate and advanced skills in lake navigation, paddling technique, river hydrology, woods craftsmanship, weather observation, climbing site safety, risk management, and campsite set up. Engage in regular group discussions, reflect on each day’s progress, and ensure that leadership and responsibilities are shared so that every crew member is part of planning each day. As you live and work closely together, you’ll learn far more than wilderness travel skills. The habits learned and strengthened on this expedition will serve for life.
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.
Wilderness canoe expedition skills are the mark of a New England outdoorsperson. In the heart of Maine’s Northwoods are networks of remote lakes and rivers that flow through a five million-acre forest. Students learn to maneuver canoes using paddle strokes such as the sweep, draw, pry and J-stroke. To get from one waterway into another, students portage (carry the canoes on their shoulders) and line (guide the loaded canoe down the sides of unrunnable rapids). On whitewater, students practice swimming in rapids (so everyone knows what to do in the event of a capsize) and learn whitewater strokes, river reading skills, route finding and rescue techniques. Whitewater sections like “Seboomook,” “The Sluice,” “Surprise” and “The Maze” test students’ draw, cross-draw and bracing techniques. Upstream travel is achieved by “poling” - another traditional means of travel that involves propelling a canoe upstream using a 12-foot long setting pole. In learning to work, communicate well and coordinate efforts as paddling partners each day, students discover the power of two people truly working together.
Among the waterways of the Maine Northwoods are many granite cliffs, known locally as “Half Dome” and “Big Moose.” Students learn to use climbing equipment, tie knots, climb and belay each other, while instructors provide overall supervision of the site. Climbing hones and develops balance, coordination, flexibility and grace on the rock. Climbing presents many individual challenges for students, while the group must work together to set systems up, communicate clearly and support each other throughout the climb.
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.
The upper reaches of the Penobscot, Kennebec and Allagash watersheds in Maine’s Northwoods are the land that Thoreau immortalized in The Maine Woods. The known history of this five million-acre forest begins with the indigenous Abenaki people, who lived along the banks of these rivers during the winter, planted crops in the spring, and then traveled downstream by canoe to coastal summer sites. After the discovery of massive white pines in the 17th century, these waterways were used by Europeans to transport logs from the forests to the mills downstream. These days, the forests, lakes and rivers are used primarily by canoeists, fisherman and other recreationalists.
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