“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
“My semester course shifted my perspective on life, taught me resilience and gave me life skills. I have no doubt in my mind that I would have had a far different Peace Corps experience and perhaps even quit, if I had not taken my Outward Bound course shortly before heading to Nepal. While I expected only technical and wilderness skills from my Outward Bound course, I gained life skills that I use to this day. Through Outward Bound I learned how to set daily goals, how to manage a day that didn’t turn out like I expected and to work with other team members that I didn’t have a common background with. Those same skills in Nepal helped me to laugh on the hard days in a culture I didn’t always understand, reset my goals and priorities and to live, play and work in a remote village for two years.” – Suellen, 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
“The coolest dynamic is being in solitude and truly having no distractions. In those solo moments I have never thought more clearly in my life. It is so important to create that time. It is hard to step out of your life for three months – but what is important is to step out for an hour or a day and be totally alone. Keep all the electronics at home. I think being alone with zero distractions clears your mind to have some really life changing thoughts.” – Britton, Alumnus
This intensive 10-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 – and can also complement a traditional college education. 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 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 and up||
|VMGL-981||1.12.19 - 3.24.19||72||18 and up||$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.
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, working animals and each other in thrilling, challenging and utterly stunning wilderness environments. Using map and compass, students learn to navigate a route over frozen lakes, rivers and the overland portage trails between them. Participants 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 but everyone cares for the dogs on a daily basis. Take part in a beautiful winter choreography as skiers serve as advance “scouts” carrying their own supplies for the day in backpacks or towing a small personal sled known as a “pulk”. While skiers navigate, check for safe ice conditions and track out a trail, mushers help guide the loaded dog sleds to 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 live comfortably in the depths of a Minnesota winter and what it takes to construct a winter camp. Instructors teach participants 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 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.
Students explore the Chihuahuan Desert, crossing mountainous terrain and traveling through water-polished canyons. At altitudes of 2,000 to 8,000 feet above sea level, backpack the vast Chisos Mountains. The small group will be hiking 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 spend a week paddling as a group and traveling down-river through sections of calm currents and whitewater. The waters of the Rio Grande offer beginning paddlers a progressive challenge - the 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 into 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 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.
Courses are offered in a variety of locations and for different lengths to provide a range of options, 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 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 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.