Outward Bound expeditions range in length from one week to 12 weeks. Everyone should have access to life-changing Outward Bound wilderness experiences, and for that reason we accommodate a variety of schedules, skill levels and time commitments. Whether you are looking for summer programs or winter expeditions, every Outward Bound expedition provides significant learning opportunities and high-impact outcomes, regardless of the course length.
Ask any of our Instructors what length Outward Bound course is best and you will invariably hear, “the longer, the better.” They observe that students on these courses achieve a more profound level of understanding of leadership skills, strength of character, and desire to serve. While a seven-day course might be ideal for a busy professional with limited vacation days, longer courses have the potential to augment learning outcomes and personal development even further. Individuals who complete our longer expeditions report consistently high levels of satisfaction, and explain that, on a longer course, they simply get more opportunities to acquire skills, experiences and expertise. With additional time in the wilderness, students develop deeper technical skills, have more chances to synthesize feedback from Instructors and peers, and enjoy more self-directed learning moments.
We are often asked, what’s the real difference between a 7-day course, a 15-day course and a 22-day expedition? The answer boils down to three main differentiators.
Depth of Experience
Change and discovery take time and practice, and our longer courses provide more opportunities, more discovery, and more learning. While our shorter courses certainly offer an important introduction to the Outward Bound educational framework – and may give students just the right amount of exposure to the outdoors to keep them coming back for more; longer courses offer a deeper, multi-faceted wilderness experience. Students have more hands-on learning time, more chances to learn from failures and successes, and more days to incorporate learning into their everyday lives.
I HAVE LEARNED SO MUCH IN THESE PAST TWO WEEKS. SUCH AS, APPRECIATING WHAT I HAVE BACK HOME, LEARNING TO BE STRONG AND INDEPENDENT, LEARNING TO OPEN UP WITH PEOPLE, AND LASTLY AND MOST IMPORTANTLY LEARNING WHAT I AM CAPABLE OF. I FOUND OUT I AM CAPABLE OF A LOT. I BELIEVE THIS COURSE REALLY SHOWED THE BEST VERSION OF MYSELF, SOMEONE I NEVER THOUGHT I COULD BE, AND IT FELT SO GOOD! – Heidi DeAnda, 2015 alum
On longer courses, students have had ample time to practice technical skills – which means that when it comes time for their Final Expedition, they can often have a truly autonomous experience. On a 22-day sailing course, for example, students have had lots of time on the water – and have probably encountered a variety of conditions. By the end of the 22 days, they have skills and confidence to overcome a variety of natural obstacles. A seven-day course, by comparison, is more compressed. Like the tip of an iceberg, a seven-day course is a powerful indication of the larger Outward Bound framework that supports it.
While seven and eight-day expeditions offer an invaluable opportunity to experience the wilderness and learn Outward Bound values and principles in a short amount of time, our longer expeditions offer considerable value. Consider the below price-per-day comparison. Compared to the seven-day alpine backpacking course, the 22-day expedition offers a 35% price per day savings.
|North Cascades Alpine Backpacking||Total Price||Average price per day|
On longer expeditions, students simply have more time to experience more things. For example, on the seven-day alpine backpacking course, the crew learns necessary outdoor skills, attempts to summit a peak, and completes a final challenge event. On the 14-day alpine backpacking expedition, students do everything that they would on a seven-day course, but they also have time to complete a solo experience and a service project. On the 22-day alpine backpacking course, students do everything that they would on a 14-day course, plus they gain more wilderness travel and additional time for skill mastery.
Longer courses also allow students to see more wilderness areas. Typically students are traveling between 10 and 30 miles per day. So the difference between a 15 and 22-day course can be about 100 miles. In a practical sense, 100 additional miles means 100 more opportunities to gain technical skills, encounter a variety of natural conditions and test abilities.
On our Maine Sailing expeditions, more days on course equate to more pins on the map. On the eight-day Maine Sailing course, students can expect to visit at least five distinct island destinations, including Elwell Island, Mosquito, Burnt Island, Harbor, Hall and Hupper Islands, Herring Gut and Long Cove. The 15-day course, on the other hand, visits at least eight distinct island spots, and on the 22-day course, students can expect to visit no less than 15 distinct locales. Each additional stop provides additional opportunities to develop skills, spot unique local wildlife, and cement bonds with Instructors and crewmates – not to mention take in spectacular natural scenery.
To see the differences of a course depending on length in a more specific format, take a look at sample course itinieraries for two of our popular summer programs that offer different versions dependent on course length: North Cascades Alpine Backpacking and Maine Coast Sailing.
North Cascades Alpine Backpacking
Day 1: Course Start, Transport to trailhead & travel
Days 2-6: Travel and possible peak ascent, Final Challenge Event
Days 7: Course End and transportation home
Day 1: Course Start
Days 2-7: Transport to trailhead & travel
Days 8-9: Solo
Days 9-12: Travel and possible peak ascent
Days 13: Final Challenge Event & Service Project
Day 14: Course End and transportation home
The 22-day alpine backpacking course follows a similar progression to the 14-day course, but has more time for wilderness travel and skill mastery.
Day 1: Course Start
Days 2-15: Transport to trailhead & travel
Days 17-18: Solo
Days 19-20: Travel and possible peak ascent
Days 21: Final Challenge Event & Service Project
Day 22: Course End and transportation home
Maine Coast Sailing
Day 1: Course Start, leave Wheeler Bay, anchor Elwell Island
Day 2: Anchor Mosquito
Day 3: Arrive Burnt Island, rock climbing afternoon
Day 4: Anchor Harbor and Hall Island
Day 5: Ashore to explore little Hall Island, anchor Hupper Island
Day 6: Service ashore with Herring Gut in Port Clyde, anchor Long Cove
Day 7: Return to Wheeler Bay, boat clean, gear clean
Day 8: Capsize drill am, course ends
Day 1: Wheeler Bay for Course Start
Day 2: Capsize drill in AM, anchor Sheep Island
Day 3: Anchor Pulpit Harbor, North Haven
Day 4: Service with North Haven Oyster Company, anchor Butter Island
Day 5: Anchor Dix Island
Day 6: Ashore on Dix Island for a mini-solo, anchor Long Cove
Day 7: Arrive Burnt Island
Day 8: Rock climbing am, Solo starts
Day 9: Solo
Day 10: Solo ends, resupply
Day 11: Sail to Monhegan, shore for Island exploration, anchor Monhegan Island
Day 12: Anchor Allan Island
Day 13: Anchor Spectacle Island
Day 14: Return to Wheeler Bay, boat clean, gear clean, personal challenge event
Day 15: Course Ends
Day 1: Wheeler Bay for Course Start
Day 2: Anchor Southern Harbor, North Haven
Day 3: Visit Foggy Meadow Farm for Service in the AM, anchor Seal Cove, Vinalhaven
Day 4: Anchor Pulpit Harbor, North Haven
Day 5: Anchor Great Spruce Head
Day 6: Group ashore for exploration and overnight, Pond Island
Day 7: Sail the Eggemoggin Reach, Resupply Buck Harbor, anchor Greenlaw Cove
Day 8: Anchor Marshall Island
Day 9-11: Solo
Day 12: Visit Penobscot East Resource center, anchor Crotch Island, Stonington
Day 13: Anchor Deep Cove, Greens Island
Day 14: Anchor Long Cove
Day 15: Arrive Burnt Island
Day 16: Resupply Burnt Island and Rock Climbing
Day 17: Anchor South of Witch Island, South Bristol
Day 18: Anchor Farnham Point, Linekin Neck
Day 19: Anchor Back Cove, New Harbor
Day 20: Anchor Long Cove
Day 21: Return to Wheeler Bay
Day 22: Final Personal Challenge Event, course end
*The following are examples of what your itineraries may look like. Your actual course plan will vary according to weather, student skills and abilities, and Instructor preferences.
To learn more about Outward Bound, visit www.outwardbound.org or call 866.467.7651 to speak to an admissions advisor today. With a rich selection of expeditions, a wide variety of age groups, stunning locations, and courses that run throughout the year, there’s an Outward Bound expedition for everyone. And remember: regardless of length, every Outward Bound expedition helps craft an exceptional final product: a confident, compassionate leader with integrity, strength of character, and an indefatigable passion to serve.
OTHER POSTS YOU MAY LIKE