“Being in the military I have had field time and experienced wildlife. This course did so much more for me. It allowed me to bond with people I had only one thing in common with (the military.) This course came at a very hard time in my life. I feel like it has been a blessing. It gave me time to breathe and actually think about myself. I laughed more during this week then I have in a long time.” – Veteran, Tina O., Age 41
Home to hundreds of waterfalls, over a million acres of national forest, park and public land, unique rock formations and the highest peaks in the Eastern United States, the Blue Ridge Mountains are a beautiful, challenging natural environment for veterans to discover or rediscover their true potential.
With the company and camaraderie of your all-female crew, you will backpack for four days and spend a day rock climbing or rappelling. Outside of the time spent being physically active and brushing up on your backcountry living skills, your crew will share stories, validate experiences and develop trust and compassion.
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Outward Bound Veterans expeditions focus on team camaraderie and the opportune challenges available in nature as tools to build connections and successes beyond military life. These expeditions encourage participants to explore their strengths and bond with fellow veterans in a safe, positive, goal-oriented environment that allows each veteran to apply their service skills in new ways. From carrying heavy packs, moving fatigued muscles and sleeping outside to exerting leadership, communication and decision-making skills, these courses help shape and support the self-confidence and sense of purpose many veterans need to continue serving as leaders in their families, communities and the nation.
Each veteran student returns home from their Outward Bound expedition having discovered more about themselves and what they want to achieve, how to overcome setbacks and, most importantly, how to move forward to reach important new milestones.
Students will be backpacking up to three days in the Pisgah National Forest of Western North Carolina where they will learn to travel safely in the backcountry, navigate varied terrain, as well as how to do these activities responsibly using Leave No Trace principles. Equally important will be time spent learning conflict resolution skills, communication styles, leadership and team-building. After the crew has practiced these skills the Instructors will step back and let the group work together to navigate through the wilderness.
After having backpacked for a few days, participants will spend a day either climbing up a rock face or rappelling down one. With a focus on safety, this course activity will start with the basics, such as working with ropes and learning to tie knots. Depending on weather and group dynamics, the crew may even have the opportunity to spend the day up in the trees on a high ropes obstacle course. These activities are meant to push individuals to step outside their comfort zones and trust one another.
During course, students will have the opportunity to relax and recharge for the challenges ahead during a period of self-reflection. This self-reflection period can last anywhere from a few hours as you take in a view and write in your journal, to 24 hours, in which Instructors will give you all the necessary food, water and shelter to enjoy your time alone. The Instructors will determine the length of your downtime based on the needs of each crew.
Blue Ridge Mountains, NC
The Blue Ridge Mountains, or Southern Appalachians, is one of the oldest mountain ranges in the world. While the mountains themselves formed over 250 million years ago, some of the rocks that underlie the region are over a billion years old.
The long geologic and evolutionary history of the Southern Appalachians has created one of the most biologically diverse regions in the temperate world; some even say it is “rainforest-like.” This region is home to beautiful rushing rivers, hundreds of waterfalls, and some of the highest peaks in the Eastern United States—including Mt. Mitchell (elevation 6,684’), the highest point east of the Mississippi River. Its diverse landscapes have been featured in many motion pictures, including The Hunger Games and The Last of the Mohicans.
Outward Bound students can expect to share the wilderness with over 700 different kinds of trees, more than 50 types of mammals, 150 different types of birds, and over 50 species of amphibians. The huge numbers of tree and plant life is actually what gives these mountains their namesake. Trees put the ‘blue’ in the Blue Ridge Mountains from the organic chemicals they release into the atmosphere, thereby contributing to the distinctive color of these mountains
Temperatures in this area range from 50 - 85 degrees in the summer, 30 - 65 degrees in the spring and fall, and 10 - 50 degrees in the winter.