On day one of the expedition, participants meet their crew, comprised of fellow veterans and service members, and pack up at base camp before hitting the trail. Once on the trail, participants learn and apply skills in backcountry living and travel, and also hone interpersonal skills such as communication, leadership and compassion. Each day allows for ample time to reflect, relate and discuss shared challenges. The group carries all necessary food and equipment for unplugged, outdoor living until their return on day six. This means no cell phones, no television, and no electronics. Participants should plan on arriving ready to commit all of their time and energy to their expedition, their crew, and an unforgettable Outward Bound experience.
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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.
While exploring one of the world’s most famous footpaths, participants can expect to practice basic backcountry skills including on and off-trail navigation, weather forecasting and preparation, campfire cooking and tarp setup. Students learn how to hike effectively and efficiently as well as how to set up and manage trail campsites each night. As the team overcomes numerous expedition challenges, they develop a greater belief in themselves and trust in one another. Students backpack for five days in the wilderness of western Maryland and southern Pennsylvania.
A little more than halfway through their expedition, students participate in a reflection period called solo. Students are assigned individual campsites, within a designated area, and are provided with all necessary gear, food, water and skills to enjoy this time alone. Although secluded, solo-sites are within hearing distance of other group members and Instructors for safety. Students are made aware of their Instructors’ solo site should they need to contact them for any reason, and Instructors monitor students closely during this experience. Solo is a great opportunity for students to relax, recharge and reflect on their experience.
The Appalachian Trail in Maryland follows a 41-mile route along the backbone of South Mountain, a north-south ridge that extends from Pennsylvania to the Potomac River. The AT varies in elevation across the state from 230’ to 1860’ and extends to the north into Southern Pennsylvania’s Michaux State Forest.