“In the three months that I was on course, I was challenged and pushed harder than ever before in my young adult life. Through crossing a glacier in Argentina, to paddling for 24 hours straight in the Everglades, to rock climbing and white water canoeing in the mountains of North Carolina, I was pushed out of my comfort zone every day. I became extremely close with my ten crew mates, and every Instructor I had on course. Now as I am adjusting back into life not living in the woods, I notice changes within myself on a daily basis, from the way I approach conflict, to the way I think about myself. I have a lot to thank Outward Bound for, but in particular I dedicate my new-found work ethic, confidence and ability to deal with difficult situations to Outward Bound and will never forget the endless memories I made while on course.” – Sierra Farrell, Alumna
Climb rock faces in the cool autumn mountains of North Carolina, journey by river through the canopied forests and barrier islands of Florida and summit peaks in the Land of Fire and Ice at the edge of the world in Patagonia. This expedition offers the chance to challenge yourself, practice leadership skills and strengthen your sense of personal development. While living and traveling in the classroom of the great outdoors, you will gain a clear sense of your abilities, build strong bonds with your group and walk away with a greater understanding of the wilderness, the world and yourself.
Although semester programs are not traditional academic programs, many colleges recognize the value of going on gap year and semester courses and grant college credit for them. This course also offers a Wilderness First Aid certification through a national accredited organization and a service project component.
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This course starts within the next week. Please call us at 866-467-7651 to assess the possibility of applying for this course!
Most College Savings Plans, including the 529 College Savings Plan, may be used to attend an Outward Bound expedition, thanks to a partnership with Western Colorado University. Anyone can register – you do not have to be a current Western Colorado University student. Registration is easy! Click here to learn more.
Break away from traditional education and make the world your classroom on an Outward Bound Semester expedition. Experience life adventures and expand your skills as you interact with new environments and diverse cultures. Form lasting relationships with outdoor experts and crewmates who are sharing the same successes, failures and discoveries. Strengthen your commitment to community as you participate in service projects that support local needs.
Exploring new environments and building new connections will put your tenacity to the test. You’ll return with broader understanding of the natural world around you, deeper appreciation for small kindnesses and greater confidence in yourself and others that will serve you well long after you return.
Outward Bound is accredited with the American Gap Association and is the longest running program in this elite group dedicated to providing safe, meaningful and high-caliber educational experiences to students.
In this phase of the 72-day course, students travel through the ancient mountains of Western North Carolina from its plunging valleys to its 6,000 foot summits. By working together to backpack through temperate rainforests, climb in and around the Linville Gorge and paddle some of the best whitewater in the Southeast, students step outside their comfort zones and learn to communicate with and trust their new crewmates.
The rock climbing portion of this phase focuses on safety, as students begin with the basics: tying knots, safety systems, belaying and climbing techniques. Depending on group dynamics and weather, the goal is to achieve top-rope climbs and progress to a multi-pitch route led by a climbing specialist. There is also the chance to experience a rappel and the high ropes course.
Students will spend up to four days paddling Class I-Class III whitewater through sculpted rock channels in tandem (two person) canoes. Crews learn how to identify and use paddling equipment, basic water safety and rescue techniques, paddling strokes and how to work with their partner to successfully paddle flatwater and negotiate numerous rapids and drops.
These uniquely structured activities provide opportunities for self-reliance, communication and collaboration as participants confront and work through their fears.
While in the Blue Ridge Mountains, participants will have the opportunity to prepare for the unexpected by earning a Wilderness First Aid (WFA) certification during the mountains phase of the course. This fast-paced, hands-on training is designed to teach skills to care for those who become ill or injured far from definitive medical care. Offered through a partnership with Landmark Learning, an accredited organization, this certification will include classroom lectures and demonstrations, combined with realistic scenarios where mock patients will challenge participants to use what they've learned. After successfully completing the WFA and CPR components, students are eligible to apply for academic credit for this certification.
After spending the first part of the journey backpacking with heavy packs, students will welcome the chance to carry their gear for the next phase in a canoe. During the canoeing portion, students will find a unique experience as they paddle through Central Florida, home to some of the country’s most historic and biologically diverse waterways. Depending on the weather, the level of difficulty will vary daily, but crews will learn marine expedition risk assessment and management, marine route planning and navigation, paddle strokes, canoe-based rescues, equipment use and how to work with a paddling partner.
The adventure culminates in one of the least populated and pristine regions in the world. In Nahuel Huapi National Park, participants will learn the techniques of alpine trekking and perfect their technical skills as they prepare to summit an Andean peak (weather permitting). Patagonia's unique flora and fauna, snow-covered volcanic peaks, ice slopes and unique terrain have attracted many scientific expeditions, including those of Charles Darwin. After extended backcountry living in this unique environment, students will realize and appreciate the connection between teamwork and individual success.
In order for profound learning to take place, there must be time to reflect on the experience. Solo is that opportunity, and that time can range anywhere from 30 minutes to 24 hours. It is a chance to experience solitude in the wilderness without distraction while also taking a break from the physical rigors of activities. Students experience short periods of time away from their group throughout the course for reflection. These “mini-solos” are at solo sites chosen by Instructors to provide as much solitude as possible (within emergency whistle-signaling distance of other group members). Participants have all necessary equipment, food and water during their Solo time, and safety is always the top priority.
Outward Bound courses vary in length from four (4) to 85 days. On shorter courses, participants will receive an introduction to leadership skills, strength of character and a desire to serve while activities fill most of the time and the pace is quick. With longer courses, the same outcomes and benefits are achieved with the opportunity to reach a more profound level of mastery as there are more chances to develop technical skills, receive and implement feedback and further personal development. However many days the expedition lasts, the strength and impact of the experience lasts a lifetime.
Rock climbing, canoeing and wilderness navigation techniques are great practice for the essential skills and habits that help prepare for new challenges at school, work, home and in the community. Outward Bound expeditions encourage students:
Blue Ridge Mountains, North Carolina
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 North America; 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. 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 to 85 degrees in the summer, 30 to 65 degrees in the spring and fall, and 10 to 50 degrees in the winter.
Waterways of Central Florida
Central Florida is home to some of the country’s most historic and biologically diverse waterways. It offers paddling on small, winding canoe trails as well as larger rivers and lakes, with camping in a variety of environments from hardwood hammock forests to barrier islands. The Suwannee River, Ocklawaha River and St John’s River offer hundreds of miles of paddling in some of the country’s most unspoiled wilderness. These rivers support a variety of ecosystems including freshwater springs, swamps, sandy beaches and salt marshes. Shaded by giant Cypress and Tupelo trees, these rivers support a variety of wildlife and have deep cultural histories. On Central Florida’s east coast, the Indian River Lagoon, which encompasses Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge and Canaveral National Seashore, is the most diverse estuary in North America. Nearly one third of the nation’s manatee population resides in this 156-mile-long waterway, along with an abundance of dolphins and other marine life.
Patagonia, South America
In southern South America lies a land untouched, growing wild and rugged. As one of the least populated regions in the world, Patagonia is a semi-arid plateau that covers over 250,000 square miles mainly in Argentina. This remote wilderness boasts dramatic landscapes and is famed by its adventures and adventurers. From its isolated mountain valleys and snow-clad volcanic peaks to its glaciers and waterfalls, Patagonia has few equals in lands of exploration. Students visit the city of Barioche (population 108,205), which is situated in the foothills of the Andes on the southern shores of Nahuel Huapi Lake and is surrounded by the Nahuel Huapi National Park. Established in 1934 to preserve local flora and fauna, it is the oldest national park in Argentina, and the largest in the region with an area of nearly 2 million acres.
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.