Learn to travel, live and work together with a crew of peers. Develop backpacking, rock climbing and mountaineering skills. Participate in service projects. And on each new adventure, enjoy ample opportunities to stretch your limits. Specifically designed to help clarify priorities and identify a clear sense of direction, this course offers a purposeful approach to the wilderness, using the time and natural environment to build leadership, character and an ethic of service that you’ll take back home with you.
This course is closed for the season. 2018 courses coming soon.
Our Pathfinder expeditions are designed for young adults who are recent high school graduates, college students, or young adults seeking personal, educational, or professional direction. Throughout these 30-day expeditions, students focus on increasing self-knowledge, clarifying values, strengthening decision-making skills and processes, and setting goals – all life skills to help chart a path toward independence with confidence and passion.
The first phase of this course is spent learning the skills necessary to travel in wilderness terrain. Topics include group travel, gear selection and use, map and compass navigation, back country cooking techniques, weather/hazard assessment, camp craft, communication skills and effective teamwork. Students travel both on and off-trail.
In addition to technical skills, Instructors teach and facilitate the interpersonal skills needed for students to function effectively as a team, accomplish goals and tackle new challenges every day. Challenges on course are designed to impel students toward taking risks, drawing upon inner resources and developing trust in one another. One such challenge might include a peak attempt. With lighter packs, participants start before the sun rises to summit a mountain and be rewarded with 360-degree views and an incredible sense of accomplishment.
The next several days focus specifically on skills associated with technical rock climbing. Topics include knots, anchors, movement over rock, top-rope belaying, use and care of harnesses and other equipment. Students have ample opportunities to actively improve their personal skill with various types of climbs, including bouldering, face climbs, cracks and possibly multi-pitch climbs. The climbing section provides an introduction to personal climbing skills while building trust among crew members as they belay one another and set goals as a group.
During the next section of this course, students build on the backpacking and rock climbing skills they learned previously. In addition to teaching more technical skills, the instructors focus on honing students’ judgment and decision-making tactics in this challenging terrain. Mountaineering is distinct from backpacking in that at least one peak attempt takes a steep, exposed route that requires the technical protection of ropes. Depending on season and temperatures, students also learn how to use fixed lines and travel safely in the snow.
As the course progresses and the group's skill and experience increase, instructors turn more responsibility over to the crew. Students eventually take over decision making on navigation, route finding, sharing of duties, campsite set up and daily routines. This section is the culminating opportunity where students use the teamwork, communication and technical abilities they have learned on course to make the remaining time their own, unique experience and to achieve autonomy as a crew.
Throughout the expedition, students have multiple opportunities to explore the relationship between self and wilderness. While partnering with land managers such as the National Park Service and National Forest agencies, students work on extended service projects such as trail maintenance and lakeshore restoration initiatives. Not only is service intrinsically rewarding, it also provides valuable experience working with different organizations in the wilderness setting, bringing Leave No Trace principle closer to home.
On every Outward Bound course reflection is an integral part of the learning process. During the solo, participants will recover from the rigors of daily travel and spend a structured period of time resting and reflecting near the group’s base camp. The primary focus of this time is to reflect on personal and group goals. Participants are provided with food, shelter and occasional check-ins from Instructors during the experience.
Participants on this course can expect a longer solo, up to 72 hours, and more reflective time built into the makeup of the course with a focus on self-awareness and self-efficacy. In addition to the longer solo, there may be several mini solos throughout the course.
Outward Bound courses vary in length from 4 to 85 days. On shorter courses, participants will receive an intro to leadership skills, build strength of character and cultivate a desire to serve. With longer courses, the same outcomes and benefits are achieved with the ability to reach a more profound level of mastery as there are more opportunities develop technical skills, receive and implement feedback and further personal development.
The Sierra Nevada Range is the largest continuous mountain range in the contiguous United States. Its large expanse of wilderness area extends over 400 miles from north to south, is 70 miles wide and is home to three national parks, 20 wilderness areas and two national monuments.
The Sierra Nevada offers fairly stable and beautiful weather. Spring can bring snow and cold temperatures. As summer advances, temperatures tend to become more moderate. Summer temperatures are in the 70s to 80s during the day and 30s to 50s in the evening. This course area boasts some of the most famous alpine climbing and backpacking routes in the United States. It is among these majestic granite domes and peaks that this course will take place.
“As instructors, one of our first responsibilities is to create this compassionate safe space. We can teach this in a variety of ways—through evening meeting structure, conflict resolution skits and Outward Bound history and philosophy lessons. Ultimately though, it is the students who have to put what we teach into practice. My students this summer were courageous and compassionate individuals who together formed two inspiring crews. The safe space they created allowed for them to share their thoughts and feelings openly.
If I have done my job as an instructor, my students will leave with the ability to transfer what they learned about themselves and their ability to overcome challenges to use in their daily lives. The real Outward Bound course only begins once the wilderness expedition ends.”
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.