“ I came to VOBS looking for mental growth, new interactions and confidence and getting out of my comfort zone. They gave me all of that and more by having amazing Instructors that love their job and made it fun. None of this could have been possible without your help. Thank you!” –Sheila, Alumna
“At Outward Bound I learned that you must not take things for granted because the way you are is really magnified on course. This course made me realize what's important and that it was overall an eye opening experience.” – Rosalvina, Alumna
“Even when the course is harsh, I can grow from it and be stronger. The things I loved from this course are the views and the time that I personally spent out of society to think of myself, my future and my goals. The beauty of nature transformed me and I found that these experiences may never happen to me again.” – Haley, Alumna
On this three-week canoeing and backpacking expedition, immerse yourself in the wonder of the wilderness backpacking along the North Shore of Lake Superior and canoeing within the Boundary Waters wilderness area as you foster compassion and trust within yourself and your crew. In this renowned and beautiful environment surrounded by a safe and supportive team, cultivate self-reliance, practice leadership and develop character. At every step of the journey, learn to help and understand others without the expectation of personal gain. Additionally, take part in a half-day backcountry or community service project—a structured and action-oriented opportunity to give back. The Boundary Waters courses have seven or fewer students with two Instructors on each course, allowing for more individualized attention and focus.
This course is closed for the season. 2019 courses coming soon.
Are you ready to take a journey that will change your life? You won’t look at day-to-day drama the same way after you’ve conquered a high mountain ridge, made a boat obey your command in windswept waves or slept under the stars watching bats swoop overhead. Joining an Outward Bound expedition changes you. Your crew, your Instructor, your route and your adventures will have a profound and lasting impact on you as you rise to meet exhilarating natural challenges in some of the country’s wildest places.
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.
Completing an extended canoe expedition includes learning the art of paddling a canoe in a variety of conditions, as well as map and compass reading, route finding and Leave No Trace wilderness living principles. Groups navigate a variety of waterways such as lakes, rivers and swamps, as well as working as a team to carry packs and canoes over portage trails when transitioning from one lake to another or to get safely around challenging rapids. Traveling by canoe allows groups to go far past where motorboats operate and, once there, it is possible to quietly observe bald eagles, moose and peaceful sunsets on mirror-calm lakes.
Lake Superior is located on the southern edge of the massive Canadian Shield, a granite rock formation that runs from Minnesota to Hudson Bay and the Northwest Territories. The Superior Hiking Trail follows the northern shore of the lake from Duluth, Minnesota to Canada covering almost 300 miles along the low-lying Sawtooth Mountain range. Students spend four to six days hiking on the trail, meandering through dense boreal forest, offering awe-inspiring overlooks and plunges into pristine river valleys. Well-marked trails, designated campsites and challenging terrain make the Superior Hiking Trail a great introductory backpacking experience.
Near the southern terminus of the Superior Hiking Trail is a rock-climbing location called Shovel Point, which features 80- to 120-foot vertical granite cliffs towering above the lake. The dramatic vertical rock face combined with the dazzling, emerald-colored lake ensures a memorable day for the novice and experienced rock climber alike. Students learn about general rock-climbing equipment, safety and etiquette before learning how to belay. The climbing day provides ample opportunities for students to climb, belay and rappel over the edge, eventually climbing safely to the top of the granite cliffs.
Looking out over the top of the boreal forest, the high ropes course is an incredible obstacle course set 30 feet in the air. Students swing from Tarzan ropes, walk on tightrope wires and climb a cargo net before jumping on the zip line for an exhilarating ride back to solid ground. All Outward Bound climbing experiences are carefully supervised and utilize safety systems that are compliant with national standards.
Service to others and the environment is a core value of Outward Bound and is integrated into each course. Participants follow Leave No Trace ethics as service to the environment and do acts of service while leading and supporting fellow participants. Designated service projects are coordinated with land managers like the US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and National Park Service to collaborate on land restoration projects. Some projects are more social services based, and participants may visit a nursing home or hospital to provide service there. Students develop a value of service, seeing the impact of their actions firsthand and transfer this desire to serve their communities back home.
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 or more, depending on the length of the course. Weather and time permitting, the Solo experience provides an important break from the rigors of the expedition and gives students the opportunity to reflect on their Outward Bound experience. Many students use this reflection time to make decisions about their future, journal and enjoy the beauty of their surroundings unencumbered by the constant external stimulation of modern life. The duration of Solo depends on the course length and type, as well as the competency and preparedness of the student group. With all the food, skills and supplies they need, participants are given a secluded spot to reflect alone and are monitored by staff throughout the experience to maintain safety. Students find that Solo provokes profound and powerful learning in a short period of time and often becomes one of the most memorable parts of their Outward Bound experience.
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.
Canoeing, backpacking and wilderness navigation techniques are great practice for the essential skills and habits that help prepare for new challenges at work, home and in the community. Outward Bound expeditions encourage students:
Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW)
Established in 1964, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness is a labyrinth of lakes and rock that has been specifically protected as a true American wilderness. No roads, power lines or motorized craft may enter its borders. Therefore, the Boundary Waters has changed little since its unveiling when the glaciers melted 10,000 years ago.
Over 1 million acres in size, the BWCAW extends 150 miles along the Canadian border. With over 1,200 miles of canoe routes, nearly 2,200 designated campsites and more than 1,000 lakes and streams, the BWCAW is a truly amazing place to experience the wilderness. The BWCAW contains portage-linked lakes and streams, interspersed with islands, forests and crags. It has no piped water, prepared shelters or signs to point the way. Within these borders students can canoe, portage and camp in the spirit of the French-Canadian Voyageurs of 200 years ago. The Boundary Waters' paddling routes offer outstanding opportunities for solitude, remoteness, teamwork, adventure and challenge.
Superior Hiking Trail
The Superior Hiking Trail is a 296-mile footpath that largely follows the rocky ridgeline above Lake Superior on Minnesota's North Shore from Duluth to the Canadian border. Well-marked trails, campsites and challenging terrain make this a perfect way to start the trip while building teamwork, increasing endurance and gaining general outdoor skills to prepare for the canoe expedition. Shovel Point features towering 80- to 120-foot cliffs jutting right out of the lake. This dramatic site ensures memorable climbing for the novice and experienced rock climber alike.
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.