Travel through two spectacular and dramatically different regions of the country. Acquire an extensive range of outdoor technical camping skills and a broad understanding of each area’s environmental and ecological challenges along the way. In the Northwoods of Minnesota, undertake a dog sledding and cross country skiing adventure during a winter of spectacular extremes. Then, trade in the cold temperatures and head down to great American Southwest to backpack through the desert of Big Bend and paddle the canyons along the Rio Grande. In addition to the extended canoeing, dogsledding and backpacking expeditions, this semester course includes rock climbing, rappelling and canyon exploration. The length of this course allows for ample time to examine and develop personal goals, leadership styles, problem solving techniques, effective communication, group processing and an ethic of service.
|VRGL-881||1.10.18 - 3.22.18||72||18 - 30||$10,800||ENROLL|
This course may be full or preparing to leave in the next week. Please call us at 866-467-7651 to discuss your options.
Our Gap Year and Semester expeditions take you out of the classroom – and into the world. These courses are all about cultivating independence, developing technical skills, and engaging with the people and places around you. Learn from the best Instructors in the industry. Tackle challenges alongside a supportive crew of motivated peers. Amidst rugged natural landscapes, learn to lead and to follow; to give and receive feedback; and to trust in your own capabilities.
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.
Students navigate a route over frozen lakes and rivers and travel the overland portage trails between them. Students develop skills in backcountry skiing, winter camping, managing and mushing dogs and controlling a dogsled. Group members take turns mushing the sled throughout the course, but everyone cares for the dogs on a daily basis. Mushing is not a passenger sport; it is hard and rewarding work. Students generally spend at least seven days driving the team.
Each type of terrain requires different skills and group organization. On level, smooth terrain most group members will ski or snowshoe ahead as two or three group members handle the sleds and dog teams. Skiers scout for obstacles, break trail through the snow and return to help maneuver the sleds when necessary. Over rough areas, the whole group will help to push, pull and turn the sled.
With plenty of training, students find that they can live comfortably in cold temperatures. Students learn how to regulate their body temperature with layers of clothing, exercise and diet. Setting up a snug winter camp takes time, energy and teamwork. Scouting for a sheltered bay with good firewood in the late afternoon, the group quickly learns that the night comes too quickly in the great white North.
Constructing a shelter to ward off the chilling winds and erecting a room-sized tent large enough to accommodate a wood stove and a brigade of weary travelers before cooking a warm, hearty dinner over an outdoor fire or the stove rounds out the day. Reflective evening conversations with fellow travelers amongst the solitude of the wintry northwoods ground this extraordinary adventure. Students often enjoy clear evening stargazing before drifting off into a well deserved sleep.
Students explore the Chihuahuan Desert, crossing mountainous terrain and traveling through water-polished canyons. At altitudes of 2,000 to 8,000 feet, backpack the vast Chisos Mountains. The small group will hike both on and off trail, crossing mountain passes, exploring immense canyons and traversing a rugged desert where atmospheric clarity and wide-open spaces make distances deceiving and navigation challenging. While hiking, students will learn desert travel skills such as strategies for water management and environmental preservation and the finer points of balance and foot placement on rough terrain.
Regardless of their rock climbing background, students are sure to find something that will both challenge and encourage the expansion of their comfort zone. The crew learns about general rock-climbing equipment, safety and etiquette before learning how to belay. This expedition includes a full day of rock climbing, which provides ample opportunities to climb, belay and rappel over the edge while safely descending to the base of a majestic cliff band.
After first learning basic whitewater strokes in calm currents, students begin the expedition. Paddling as a group, students spend a week traveling down-river through sections of calm currents and whitewater. The waters of the Rio Grande offer beginning paddlers a progressive challenge and a perfect place to learn and hone skills.
Instructors assist students in mastering skills of paddling, scouting and running rapids. Students learn all the skills they need to move efficiently downriver. As there are only two students in a whitewater canoe everyone has the opportunity to "captain their watercraft." Students learn to adapt to the river and desert environments and reset their internal clock to rise with the sun and sleep with the moon.
This 16-hour Wilderness First Aid course is designed to prepare students to respond to medical emergencies, treat injuries and illnesses, and improvise solutions with the items they carry. WFA courses are designed to meet the needs of individuals who are responsible for the medical care of others in a wilderness setting, people who work in remote settings, and recreationalists who want to be prepared in the case of an emergency.
Service is an integral part of the Outward Bound curriculum. Students are encouraged to practice service to the environment in the form of leaving campsites cleaner than they found them and practicing Leave No Trace ethics throughout the expedition. Woven within the curriculum fabric are lessons emphasizing compassion and service. Students gain an appreciation and desire to help and understand others without the expectation of personal gain. Additionally, students have a structured opportunity to put giving back into action through two days of community service that is an integral part of their course. Service in Texas is designed to offer as much interaction with local people as possible, as a way of exchanging cultural awareness. The specific type of service project depends upon the structure of the course and local needs and opportunities. Service projects could include helping paint and clean in a border town or working in a local wilderness area.
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 significant decisions about their future, journal and enjoy the beauty of their surroundings unencumbered by the constant external stimulation of modern life. This semester course offers two unique solos of two-three days in length in the high deserts of Texas and in the wintertime of the northwoods. 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.
Courses are offered in a variety of locations and for different lengths to provide a range of programming, from which participants can choose the optimal experience for them. Longer courses allow for a full immersion into the Outward Bound experience, more time to practice wilderness travel and the opportunity to experience both success and failure to promote personal growth. The semester course in particular offers the opportunity to completely experience Outward Bound and achieve success in multiple course areas and activities. Students can expect to get comfortable living and working together in the wilderness while creating a solid foundation of skill sets they can continue to build on after course. This independence easily transfers back to home, school and work with an increased confidence, direction and sense of responsibility and purpose.
Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Minnesota
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 wilderness 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.
In the winter, the BWCAW transforms into an even more severe and remote wilderness. While more difficult, winter enthusiasts travel over frozen lakes and rivers by dogsled, cross-country ski and snowshoe. Winter in the Boundary Waters is mesmerizing, peaceful and exhilarating. It is a place of spectacular extremes, trackless snow, bracing cold air, glowing warm embers and powerful silence.
Rio Grande and Big Bend, Texas
On the border of Mexico, a powerful river and a mountainous desert unite in Texas’s Big Bend National Park. The vast Chihuahuan desert is an exotic place of spectacular multi-colored canyons and mountains – one of the last true desert regions in North America. The Rio Grande flows through its heart, forming the boundary between the United States and Mexico. The land itself is awe-inspiring, with canyons towering 300 to 1,200 feet over the river. Big Bend is the eighth largest national park in the lower 48 states, encompassing more than 800,000 acres of majestic mesas, canyons, cacti and weather-beaten desert.
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.