This six-day rafting expedition is a chance for veterans to explore the volcanic landscape of the Pacific Northwest; to bond and support one another; and to develop skills and confidence that they can bring home to families, careers and communities. Participants take on Class II to Class IV rapids on the wild and scenic Deschutes River, which flows from the snowcapped Central Cascades to the Columbia River, and features consistent water flow throughout the year. Participants learn paddle captaining skills, river hydrology, river safety, teamwork, campsite set-up, backcountry cooking and Leave No Trace – all in a beautiful desert river corridor carved through volcanic basalt and schist. This course offers a unique opportunity to reconnect with other veterans outside of the military in an inspiring, natural, wilderness environment.
Outward Bound Veterans expeditions build on camaraderie and the challenge of the natural world as a pathway to healing. These expeditions encourage participants to connect with existing strengths and bond with fellow veterans in a safe, positive, mission-driven environment. As they harness the power of wartime experiences like carrying heavy packs, moving fatigued muscles and sleeping outside, these courses help build the self-confidence and sense of purpose veterans need to continue serving as leaders in their families, communities and the nation.
- Build core skills: Veterans receive hands-on training on expedition and personal skills. As part of an inclusive, supportive crew, they gain communication skills, establish trust and validate experiences among other veterans.
- Practice Outward Bound values: Instructors focus on Outward Bound core values like compassion, integrity, excellence, inclusion and diversity to help veterans reflect, share insights and live in the present moment.
- Process and Reflect: Journaling, one-on-one and group discussions help veterans understand how Outward Bound experiences might translate to coping skills back home.
- What participants learn: Veterans return home inspired, ready to tap into rediscovered strengths and eager to find new ways to contribute to society.
Participants travel on the river in four to six person paddle rafts, and learn to “captain” (maneuver) their paddle raft team through Class II to IV rapids. After lessons in basic river travel and safety, participants progress into learning to read currents, anticipate obstacles, scout rapids, and negotiate technical portions of the river. The crew also learns river hydrology, swimming in currents, paddle techniques and expeditionary travel skills. While on the rafting expedition, there may also be an opportunity for short day hikes.
Deschutes River, Oregon
The Deschutes River is part of the national Wild & Scenic Rivers System. The river flows north from the Oregon Cascades to the Columbia River and then on to the Pacific Ocean. The Lower Deschutes is a popular river for both whitewater rafting and fly fishing. The river is spring-fed, which results in an unusually constant water flow and cold water. Excellent geologic evidence is present all around this area. Courses generally travel anywhere from fifty to one hundred miles along the Lower Deschutes. The rapids on the Deschutes are rated to Class IV, mostly Class II-III, and are excellent for learning paddle skills and teamwork. The group camps each night along the banks of the river. The Deschutes region has a colorful human history, and a railroad borders much of the length of the Lower Deschutes.