“When times are hard you can look back at what you’ve done and just laugh, and know that you have been through so much worse. It gives you the courage and confidence to get through. Discomfort is temporary. I think that will be a big part of what the rest of the guys will take forward as well. We were able to do something so extraordinary and be okay, and that will stick with us." – Britton, Alumnus"
“I have a renewed sense of perspective. I am more optimistic, connected and more empathetic towards people. I now understand the process I need to go through in order to achieve something, whether it is a small goal or a big goal. I’ve always seen the big goal and haven’t had the ability to break it apart and take it step by step. It’s less overwhelming now. I have the tools to do something successfully and efficiently. I’m trying to take things one small step at a time – it is the best way for me to be successful." – James, Alumnus
This intensive, 9-week leadership semester course is an outstanding opportunity for students to immerse themselves in the rugged landscapes of the Rio Grande and Boundary Waters wilderness areas. Acquire an extensive range of outdoor technical camping skills and a broad understanding of each areas’ 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 the great American Southwest to backpack through the desert of Big Bend and paddle through the canyons of 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.
|VMGL-981||1.26.19 - 3.30.19||64||18 and up||$10,340||ENROLL|
|VMGL-081||1.25.20 - 3.28.20||64||18 and up||$10,340||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.
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.
Together with a team of expert Instructors and loveable sled dogs, students experience a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to connect with nature, work with 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 daily. 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 help guide the loaded dog sleds that follow. The group comes together to maneuver the dogsleds over obstacles and steep terrain and at the end of each day, make and enjoy camp.
Students learn to rely on their own locomotion as they use skis to kick and glide across the frozen landscape. Adequate training will be given to teach the skiers to break trail, set the tracks for the dog sleds to follow and check the ice to allow for safe travel. The exhilaration that comes from the freedom of being able to efficiently move across a frozen lake or snow covered trail will make students understand why this is one of the oldest sport activities in the world. Skiers will occasionally help the mushers move the sleds over difficult terrain but otherwise travel separately from the dog sleds, carrying their own basic supplies for the day in backpacks or towing a small personal sled known as a “pulk.”
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 tent rounds out each day. Students often enjoy clear evening 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.
After first learning basic whitewater strokes in calm currents, students are ready to begin the expedition. Paddling together, the group travels down-river through sections of calm currents and swift-moving whitewater rapids. The waters of the Rio Grande offer beginning and more advanced paddlers progressive challenges 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 down-river, including an introduction to whitewater rescue techniques. 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.
At altitudes of 2,000-8,000 feet, backpack the vast Chisos Mountains and explore the Chihuahuan Desert, crossing mountainous terrain and traveling through water-polished canyons. 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.
During climbing days, students learn about general rock climbing equipment, safety and etiquette. Students have many opportunities to climb, belay and rappel while learning and employing safety systems that are compliant with national standards. The rock climbing sites provide a number of different route options including cracks, sheer faces and chimneys. Regardless of a student’s rock climbing background, they are sure to find a route that will encourage them to expand their comfort zone.
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 to the environment and to others is one of the core values of Outward Bound. Students are encouraged to practice service to the environment; leaving campsites cleaner than they found them and practicing Leave No Trace ethics. Students gain an appreciation and desire to help and understand others without the expectation of personal gain through two days of community service that take place in Minnesota and Texas. The specific type of service project depends on the structure of the course, and local needs and opportunities.
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 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, students 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.
Longer courses allow for a full immersion in 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 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 skillsets 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 (BWCAW) 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 Minnesota/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 students can canoe, portage and camp in the spirit of the French-Canadian Voyageurs of 200 years ago. 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.
Big Bend Ranch State Park and Big Bend National Park, Texas
Along the US-Mexico border in southwestern Texas, a powerful river and a mountainous desert unite in Texas’ Big Bend National Park. The Texas course area is one of the most remote and geologically interesting in the nation. The Rio Grande River carves a huge, sweeping bend where Big Bend National Park earns its name. This 750,000-square mile wilderness is the eighth largest national park in the lower 48 states and a desert backpacking and rock climbing paradise. In this region, delicate desert flowers exist alongside fossilized trees millions of years old. Mountain passes give way to steep-walled canyons and cliffs. The land itself is awe-inspiring, with canyons towering 300 to 1,200 feet over the river. It is one of the last true desert regions in North America. Much of this rugged land has remained unchanged for centuries. Hundreds of species of birds and a healthy diversity of other animal and plant communities thrive within the splendid isolation of ancient limestone canyons, juniper and mesquite-covered mesas and coal-black night skies.
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.