Photograph (above) taken by Larry Mishkar
Sample Itinerary
15-Day Course
Course start, meet group, organize gear, camp under the stars
Intro to winter camping, cross country ski training trip
Dog sled intro, food and gear packing
Travel days: dog sled, ski, camp in the Boundary Waters
Travel days: dog sled, ski, camp in the Boundary Waters
Arrive at base camp, course end ceremonies
Depart for the airport and travel home
8-Day Course
Course start, meet group, organize gear, camp under the stars
Travel days: dog sled, ski, camp in the Boundary Waters
Travel day: dog sled, ski, camp in the Boundary Waters
Arrive at base camp, course end ceremonies
Depart for the airport and travel home

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.

cross country skiing trips
Photo courtesy of Larry Mishkar
teens learn dog sledding in minnesota
Photo courtesy of Larry MIshkar
learn how to dog sled in the boundary waters
Photo courtesy of Larry Mishkar
learn how to dog sled
Photo courtesy of William Durland
sled dogs in the boundary waters
Photo courtesy of William Durland
dog sledding lessons in minnesota
Photo courtesy of William Durland

Together with a team of expert Instructors and lovable sled dogs, students experience a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to connect with nature, working animals and each other in this thrilling, challenging and utterly stunning wilderness environment. Using map and compass, students learn to navigate a route over frozen lakes, rivers and the overland portage trails between them. Students develop skills in dog mushing, cross-country skiing, ice reading, winter camping and sled dog care. Group members take turns mushing the dogsleds and skiing or snowshoeing throughout the course. Everyone cares for the dogs on a daily basis. Take part in a beautiful winter choreography as skiers serve as advance “scouts”—navigating, checking for safe ice conditions and tracking out a trail while mushers work with the dogs to help guide the loaded dog sleds to follow. The group comes together to maneuver the dogsleds over obstacles and steep terrain and make and enjoy camp at the end of the day.

winter camping trips
Photo courtesy of Larry Mishkar
winter camping course in the boundary waters
Photo courtesy of Adam Benway
learn how to camp in the winter
Photo courtesy of Adam Benway
winter camping class in minnesota
Photo courtesy of Adam Benway
winter camping lessons
Photo courtesy of Rachel Hedlund

Students learn what it takes to construct a winter camp and live comfortably in the depths of a Minnesota winter. Instructors teach students techniques for harvesting water from beneath the ice, dressing properly for freezing temperatures, felling trees for firewood, cooking over an open fire and setting up shelters and cozy winter sleeping systems. A hearty dinner and enriching conversation with fellow group members around an outdoor fire or the wood stove in a large, canvas wall tent rounds out each day. Students often enjoy clear evenings stargazing before drifting off into a well-deserved sleep. Students learn that not only can they survive, but truly thrive in an extreme and remote winter environment.

Service is a cornerstone of every Outward Bound experience. From the seemingly small daily acts of service for the environment to the regular tasks of being part of an expeditionary team, participants have ample opportunities to experience the value of giving back to the larger community. On the expedition, participants are encouraged to practice environmental stewardship in the form of Recreate Responsibly ethics. Participants also practice regular acts of service for their team including the hard-working sled dogs by preparing and serving meals, securing drinking water, breaking trail and giving the dogs plenty of affection.

At one point during the expedition students are provided a secluded spot to reflect alone, with all the food, skills and supplies they need, and are monitored by staff throughout the experience to maintain safety. We call this part of course, Solo. 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. 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 course.

High school students will experience a sense of accomplishment as they learn about perseverance (or grit), risk taking, self-identity and self-reliance. Students will learn to trust themselves and push themselves harder as they own their choices and advance toward mastery in their skill development. Group adversity will teach each student critical thinking skills, collaboration and decision-making. They will experience leadership in action as they see their potential become reality while practicing empathy and compassion toward others.

Dogsledding, cross-country skiing and wilderness navigation techniques are great practice for the essential skills and habits that help prepare students for new challenges at school, work, home and in the community. Outward Bound expeditions encourage students to:

  • Remain engaged and present, giving every challenge their best effort, even when the goal seems beyond reach.
  • Form a team and focus on the team effort.
  • Share responsibilities, communicate and lead. Leadership roles are shared within the group, and responsibilities rotate each day.
  • Find reserves of tenacity and compassion. Outward Bound courses are designed to expand and stretch your limits so that every expedition is a true accomplishment and a memorable journey.
Photo courtesy of Brian Minor
Photo courtesy of Lisa Pugh

Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Minnesota
Established in 1978, 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 one million acres in size, the BWCAW extends 150 miles along the Minnesotan/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. It 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 you can canoe, portage and camp as the native peoples and French-Canadian Voyageurs did before you. The Boundary Waters' paddling routes offer outstanding opportunities for solitude, remoteness, teamwork, adventure and challenge.

In the winter, the Boundary Waters 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. These regions are the ancestral lands of the Anishinabewaki ᐊᓂᔑᓈᐯᐗᑭ and Očeti Šakówiŋ (Sioux) nations.


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.