Outward Bound for Adults isn’t a trip or a vacation, but it is a chance to unplug from the world and connect to yourself, rediscover what’s important and return to everyday life with a refreshed perspective. Outward Bound courses aren’t just for teenagers and college students. Here are five reasons to consider taking an Outward Bound course for Adults, if you’re in your 30s and beyond.
1. Leave Your Daily Routine Behind
Routine is a comforting part of life—it provides a sense of flow, of the rhythm in our lives. Yet once in a while, it’s good to break that routine. When we can step out of our daily patterns, we gain a fresh perspective on life and a healthy reprieve from predictable days.
On an Outward Bound course, you’ll tune in to the rhythms of nature, the flow of a slower, quieter, backcountry life, immersed in totally new experiences. Outward Bound for Adults offers a chance to unplug from technology, routine, stress and any ruts you might find yourself in. Upon your return, you may find a new appreciation and perspective for the life you have at home—the people, the creature comforts and the modern conveniences.
Imagine backpacking in the beauty of the desert in Big Bend National Park, with fragile desert ecosystems and some of the most dazzling night skies anywhere in the US. Every course area provides a unique experience. Choose somewhere you haven’t been before, and discover the beauty of that new place. Let it get under your skin as you reconnect with yourself and nature.
2. You’re Never Too Old to Learn Something New
As leaders in the world of outdoor education, Outward Bound Instructors provide a safe setting to learn new skills in the outdoors. After all, you’re never too old to learn something new. The best part is that no experience is required. We will teach you what you need to know.
When you browse courses, choose an activity that you’ve always wanted to try. You’ll learn your adventure activity of choice from the pros: Instructors who live a life of adventure. If you sign up for a Boundary Waters Canoe course, for example, you’ll learn all the fundamentals of expeditioning by canoe on lakes, how to portage (carry your gear over land between lakes), cook over a fire and camp stove, navigate with map and compass and more. Never rock climbed before? Learn how to tie knots, belay your partner and trust yourself as you find handholds and footholds and make it to the top. Always wanted to go sea kayaking? Explore the Apostle Islands in Lake Superior, or Ten Thousand Islands on the coast of Florida, paddling alongside dolphins as you navigate the open waters. No matter which activity calls your name or which course area speaks to your adventurous spirit, you’ll find yourself in true wilderness with solid instruction on how to travel safely with your group and on your own.
3. Rediscover Your Strengths
When we enter the work world, we develop certain skills like organization, communication and time management. On an Outward Bound course, you’ll find yourself away from the office and outside your comfort zone, applying the skills you use every day to unexpected situations and environments.
For example, you may discover that your creativity in the kitchen is celebrated by your fellow travelers when you whip up a backcountry meal for your crew. Or, that you’re particularly good at organizing the day’s logistics. A new setting is a chance to rediscover yourself with a new group of peers or, shall we say, friends-to-be.
4. Take Much-Needed Me-Time
Courses for adults are shorter, mostly 7-8 days. Many adults find it difficult to get away for three weeks or a month at a time with jobs, families and other commitments in their lives. Courses tailored to adults allow you to take long overdue time away for yourself without placing too much stress on your home life or work schedule. Adults have lives that are overrun by packed schedules, going from one child’s school function, work meeting or gym class to the next activity. When was the last time you took on a personal endeavor or set out to achieve a goal that benefited you?
Quiet, alone time to think and reflect is a rare gift and an extremely powerful tool. On every Outward Bound course, you get the opportunity to focus on reflection during Solo. Solo is a special experience on every Adult course that truly gives you me-time, with no one demanding your attention or energy, no email inbox and no text notifications —just you, the cozy camp you’ve learned to set up, the fireside meal you’ve cooked with confidence and the sound of the wilderness. You will get to utilize the skills you’ve learned while on your course while taking time to just be.
In addition to Solo, you can carve out sweet moments to sit beside a cascading stream or enjoy a mountain vista. Adult courses are your chance to slow down, clear your head and hear yourself again. Many Outward Bound Adult students bring a journal on course to capture their thoughts and experiences, write down goals or plans for the return home.
5. Find Your Community
As you get older, it becomes harder to meet people and create friendships with those who share similar interests and values, but there’s nothing like shared adventure to bond a group of strangers. Not surprisingly, it’s a common pattern that Outward Bound students remain lifelong friends after an expedition. They take their own trips together, have meaningful conversations or even just reminisce on shared memories that no one else quite understands. You learn what it means to practice compassion for one another day-in and day-out on your course, something that will stick with you when you return to everyday life.
We believe that different life stages, perspectives and experiences add to the diversity of the group and help create a positive learning environment. That’s why, if you’re in your 30s, you aren’t limited to courses for adults ages 30 and older—you’re welcome to sign up for a course that’s for ages 18+. Just know that you’re likely to be on expedition with college students and young adults in their early 20s, as the 18+ courses tend to draw participants that are in the 18-23 age-range. We have courses for ages 45+, and have even seen some participants in their 70s! Whatever you choose is the right fit, you’ll be grateful for the different types of people on your course.
Take the first step and search for your Summer course. Get away, unplug, reconnect to yourself and return home a more resilient and compassionate individual.
About the Author
CJ Wilson’s career in outdoor education has taken her from Maine to Minnesota, and from the Sierra Nevada to Patagonia. A long-time Outward Bound instructor, she writes from her base camp in Asheville NC. When not writing, she might be found working as a ranger in a national park, bicycle touring, or hiking her favorite trails near home.
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