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Sample Itinerary
DAY1
Course Start; Duffle Shuffle; Camp craft and risk management
DAY2-5
Backpacking training expedition. Learning navigation skills.
DAY6-8
Rock Climbing: Climbing, belaying, rappelling, and multi-pitch climbing
DAY9-11
Backpacking Main Expedition: Advanced navigation and group decision-making
DAY12
Service Project: Trail-building or work with community service organization; Resupply
DAY13-15
Whitewater canoeing: paddle strokes, boat maneuvers, rapid scouting, self-rescue
DAY16-18
Solo Activity
DAY19-20
Backpacking final expedition: leadership and independence
DAY21
Personal challenge event, clean and de-issue gear; graduation ceremony
DAY22
Course end. Transportation to the airport.

I recently completed a 22-day course of backpacking, rock climbing and paddling in the Blue Ridge Mountains. It was the most incredible and challenging experience of my life thus far. Everything was amazing: my crewmates, my Instructors, the location and the activities. I became incredibly close with my 11 crewmates and Instructors. My Instructors showed me exactly how comfortable and confident I am in the wilderness and on a rock face, which was incredibly empowering. I am so much more confident and strong, both physically and mentally, after my course.

— Annabelle Alumna

It’s time to make your own adventure. Outward Bound’s Classic expeditions for middle and high school students are built with you in mind. Make new friends, sleep under the stars, and learn skills like backcountry navigation and how to cook a delicious meal no matter where you are. You’ve got this! Whether you’re in a raft or on a mountainside, you’ll learn what you’re made of – and you’ll see first-hand how far teamwork can take you. Join us for an unforgettable challenge and discover a whole new way to get outside.  

  • Build skills, form connections: Learn and practice wilderness, teamwork and leadership skills. Find connections with your crewmates based on support and respect (and fun too!), and in the thick of challenges, discover there is more in you than you know.
  • Value strengths and strengthen values: Uncover your unique character strengths, develop your leadership abilities and learn how to let compassion in to everyday life by pushing your own limits and working alongside your peers.
  • Demonstrate mastery: As you gain confidence in new skills, take on more decision-making responsibilities. Work together to achieve team goals, solve problems and succeed both as individuals and as a group.
  • What you’ll learn:  Your connections matter – working together to navigate challenges will quickly turn your crewmates into friends. Together, you’ll find opportunities to carry more weight (literally and figuratively) and make impactful decisions with accompanying consequences. It’s all about confidence, communication, and independence. 

After you come home, many of the character, leadership and service traits you uncovered on your expedition stay with you, helping you navigate your daily life with more resilience and success.

a group of students pose atop a summit in the blue ridge mountains on an outward bound course
Photo courtesy of Rachel Veale
two students sit on an overlook of the blue ridge mountains on an outward bound expedition
Photo courtesy of Rachel Veale
a group of students sit around a campfire on an outward bound course in the blue ridge mountains
Photo courtesy of James Mixon
an instructor speaks to a group of students while they eat breakfast on a backpacking trip in north carolina
Photo courtesy of Rachel Veale

Students will be backpacking in Pisgah National Forest where they will learn to travel through the backcountry, navigate varied terrain with a map and compass and how to do these activities responsibly using Leave No Trace principles. Equally important will be time spent learning conflict resolution skills, communication styles, how to lead and how to be a team player. After the crew has practiced these skills, their Instructors will step back and let the group work together to lead their own way through the wilderness where they will be rewarded with stunning, misty mountain vistas.

After a few days of exploring and building crew camaraderie, students will learn to maneuver Class I-Class III level whitewater rapids. Paddling through sculpted rock channels in tandem (two-person) canoes offers the perfect opportunity to foster further collaboration and communication skills between crewmates. Students will execute synchronized strokes, dynamic eddy turns, peel-outs, and ferries on either the French Broad, Tuckaseegee, Chattooga, New, or Nantahala Rivers. Some of the topics crews cover during this portion of the course include identification and use of equipment, basic water safety and rescue techniques, and how to work with paddling partners to successfully negotiate Class l- Class III rapids and flatwater and whitewater paddling strokes.

a student rock climbs while another spots them on a rock climbing trip in north carolina
Photo courtesy of Rachel Veale
an instructor gives direction to a student preparing to rock climb on an outward bound trip in north carolina
Photo courtesy of James Mixon
two students wearing rock climbing gear smile at the camera on an outward bound expedition in the blue ridge mountains
Photo courtesy of Rachel Veale

With a focus on safety, climbing instruction will start by teaching the basics, such as working with ropes and learning to tie knots. As students progress, they will learn how to climb up or rappel down a rock face. They may even have the opportunity to work through a high ropes obstacle course together. These uniquely structured activities provide opportunities not only for self-reliance, but also for communication and collaboration as participants confront and work through their fears.

A little more than halfway through course, students will participate in a reflection period called Solo. During this time, Instructors assign students their own individual spaces within a designated area. These sites are both secluded and within hearing distance of other group members and Instructors for safety. Students will be given all the necessary gear, food, water and skills to enjoy this time alone. Solo is a great opportunity for students to relax, recharge and reflect on their course after having long days of strenuous group activities. They also know the location of their Instructors should they need to contact them for any reason. Instructors will be monitoring students closely during this experience.

Outside of learning technical outdoor skills, longer courses also allow enough time to conduct a service project. Whether maintaining trails, partnering with nonprofits or helping at local farms and gardens, stewardship has long been a part of the mission and values of an Outward Bound program. These projects help students discover the true meaning of giving back to their community, the value of compassion and their ability to lead.

Although 22 days seems like a long time, this course offers the optimal duration for getting the classic Outward Bound experience. In addition to profound personal growth as each student practices leadership and decision-making skills, these longer courses also allow for team development. Crews often go through four common phases of working in a team: forming, storming, norming and performing. Upon first forming, team members are positive and often anxious as they try to understand what their role will be within the team. Through challenging circumstances, the crew often reaches a storming stage where they begin pushing boundaries with their teammates and circumstances. This is the turning point of the course as the team moves on to the next stage where they resolve their differences, ask each other for help and commit to a goal. Finally, teams excel in the performing phase, conquering previously unimaginable challenges together.

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 modern 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 feet), the highest point east of the Mississippi River. The area’s 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 between 50 and 85 degrees in the summer, 30 to 65 degrees in the spring and fall and 10 to 50 degrees in the winter. These regions are the ancestral lands of the Cherokee.

Course Stories

It was the most incredible and challenging experience of my life thus far.

I recently completed a 22-day course of backpacking, rock climbing and paddling in the Blue Ridge Mountains. It was the most incredible and challenging experience of my life thus far. Everything was amazing: my crewmates, my Instructors, the location and the activities. I became incredibly close with my 11 crewmates and Instructors. My Instructors showed me exactly how comfortable and confident I am in the wilderness and on a rock face, which was incredibly empowering. I am so much more confident and strong, both physically and mentally, after my course.

— Annabelle Alumna

OTHER COURSES YOU MAY LIKE

Getting Started


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.

To secure your spot on a course you must submit an enrollment form and $500 deposit that is applied toward the total cost of the course and includes a $150 non-refundable enrollment processing fee. 

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