Advanced Wilderness First Aid, American RedCross Lifeguarding, NAUI Openwater SCUBA
Cold Weather Safety
Food Preparation and Cooking
Leave No Trace Methods & Ethics
Map and Compass
Safety and Risk Management
Tides and Currents
Positive Risk Taking
This 60-day dog sledding and sailing adventure starts with the commitment to venture into unfamiliar territory.
On this exciting Semester expedition, you will move through two completely different ecosystems – the temperate, remote Florida Keys, and the wild, peaceful, serene Boundary Waters region – by pulling boat, ski and sled. You will master expedition skills to safely navigate your way through both maritime and boreal environments. On an expedition like this, every decision matters - on the trail, on the boat, in camp and around the campfire. Every choice you make - how hard you work to master a skill, how you prioritize group tasks over your own needs, how you treat others or respond to challenging situations - affects you and your entire crew. This extended course, with its intensive curriculum, provides those who dare to challenge themselves with an opportunity to experience authentic growth - and learn life skills that stay with them long after the expedition has ended.
NOTE: This course requires that students be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 to attend. For questions regarding this policy please see this page or call us at 866-467-7651.
This course is closed for the season.
APPLY NOW This means a course has several open spots and is actively processing applications.
APPLY NOW – Almost Full This means there are three or fewer currently available spots left on a course. To secure your spot click Apply Now to begin an application!
Once a course has reached capacity, three waitlist spots will become available. In the event a spot becomes available, those on the waitlist may have an opportunity to secure the available spot. To join a course’s waitlist, click “Join Waitlist” to begin the application process. Upon completion of your application, a $500 deposit is required to reserve the waitlist spot. If you choose to remove your application from the waitlist, or if a spot does not become available, you will be refunded the $500 deposit. If a spot becomes available and you elect not to take it, Outward Bound will keep $150 of the deposit.
Waitlist spots are prioritized in the order of returned paperwork, not in the order applications are received, so be sure to return the initial paperwork as soon as possible! Please be aware that waitlist spots may become available up to two weeks before the course starts. While cancellations do occur, we cannot guarantee a spot will become available. Applicants may only be listed on one waitlist. If there is another course that still has availability and is also of interest to you, we recommend applying for that course instead. If you have questions, please call 866-467-7651 to speak with one of our Admissions Advisors.
CALL TO APPLY This means a course is very close to its start date. Although it is unlikely to secure a spot this late, you can call the National Admissions office at 866-467-7651 to discuss your options.
COURSE IS FULL When a course has reached maximum capacity, meaning all spots and the three waitlist spots are occupied, a course will read “Course Is Full.” This means applications are no longer being accepted.
CLOSED As a course nears its start date, the availability status may read “Closed.” In this event, a course roster has been finalized and applications are no longer being accepted or processed.
Most College Savings Plans, including the 529 College Savings Plan, may be used to attend an Outward Bound expedition, thanks to a partnership with Western Colorado University. Anyone can register – you do not have to be a current Western Colorado University student. Registration is easy! Click here to learn more.
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.
Build skills, form connections: Amidst rugged natural landscapes, learn to lead and to follow; to give and receive feedback; and to trust in your own capabilities as you expand your technical and personal knowledge base. 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, exercise your independence as you gain life experience and learn how to let compassion in to everyday life by pushing your own limits and supporting your crew as you tackle obstacles together, big and small.
Demonstrate mastery: As you gain confidence in new skills and a better understanding of the natural world around you, take on more decision-making responsibilities. Work together to achieve team goals, solve problems and succeed both as independent individuals and as a group.
What you’ll learn: Examine your personal values and discover more about your true self. Hone your technical abilities as you become a master at ropes courses or swiftwater rescue techniques and Wilderness First Aid. Numerous certificates are available depending on the course, and up to 18 credit hours can be earned along the way.
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.
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.
The sailing portion begins at Big Pine Key, where students will spend time learning to sail and row a 30-foot open sailboat through the waterways and bays of the southernmost part of the continental United States. These warm, shallow waters provide an exciting sailing area and some of the best training ground for developing advanced sailing skills. The Gulf Coast, Everglades and backcountry of Florida Bay offer challenging navigation and the opportunity to explore mangrove keys, tidal flats and coral patch reefs as well as make coastal passages. The turquoise waters, warm temperatures and prevailing easterly winds provide exceptional sailing, both day and night.
Our 30-foot sailing boats are expedition vessels built with both simplicity and open water expeditions in mind. They are open boats without cabins or engines. Students live closely together using only wind and oars as propulsion. As students rotate responsibilities throughout the expedition, they learn the art and science of sailing, navigating, rowing and living aboard a small open boat. At night, students sleep on deck under a tarp, taking turns at anchor watch under brilliant night skies or sleep on shore at campsites. The boats are equipped with all the required US Coast Guard safety equipment (radios, lights, etc.).
The crew refines and enhances their expedition skills, living aboard and working together to move the boats from anchorage to anchorage. Students have many opportunities to explore the infinite facets of wilderness leadership which they will take with them to the Boundary Waters for the second phase of the program.
SCUBA Diver Certification
Students will have another chance to step outside their comfort zone and explore a new environment as they earn their PADI Open Water Scuba Diver Certification. This is a unique opportunity to learn about sub-tropical ecology and scuba skills while participating in several dives to complete this certification.
Red Cross Lifeguard Training and Certification
This section of the course will cover CPR, First Aid and lifeguard techniques – such as rescues, back-boarding and general safety procedures. The training is a mix of theory and practice. Students will be tested using Red Cross guidelines before receiving their certification.
Wilderness Advanced First Aid
Early on in the course, students will participate in the an Advanced Wilderness First Aid (AWFA) course, which is a 4-day introduction to wilderness medicine that combines classroom time with hands-on practical sessions. Students will learn how to manage injuries/illnesses in the backcountry, setting them up for safe and self-reliant expeditions in the future.
of Larry Mishkar
of Larry Mishkar
of Calvin Croll
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of Larry Mishkar
of Larry Mishkar
Dog Sledding & Cross Country Skiing
Students start this section with a three to four-day cross-country skiing immersion expedition designed to teach basic skiing and winter camping skills. Students learn how to stay warm in extreme cold conditions while skiing between five and 15 miles a day from campsite to campsite. Each evening, students learn and refine their winter camping skills including: how to construct tarp shelters, choose, harvest and process dry firewood, cook meals over a fire, and employ Leave No Trace wilderness ethics.
Following the immersion expedition, students return to the basecamp and make preparations for a longer dogsledding and skiing expedition. The group works together to build a dogsled, pack food and learn about dog care and mushing. When the group departs from basecamp again about a week later, they bring everything they need to remain in the wilderness for the remaining roughly 20 days of the course. During this main expedition, the group splits into two smaller groups to travel each day. Half the group travels on cross-country skis and is responsible for breaking trail, navigating, scouting for hazards and checking for safe ice conditions. The other half of the group follows on dogsleds, transporting most of the equipment, and food.
Mushing is not a passenger sport and, depending on the snow conditions, often requires mushers to push the sled or run and walk along with the dogs. If the skiing group encounters particularly rough terrain or steep hills, they wait for the mushers to arrive and assist in maneuvering the heavy dogsleds. Upon reaching camp each evening, everyone helps to take care of the dogs, set up camp and process firewood for cooking and warmth. Students learn how to: handle a team of sled dogs, cross-country ski long distances with a backpack, camp comfortably in sub-zero temperatures, navigate frozen lakes, rivers and ridges with a map and compass and read ice conditions.
of Larry Mishkar
of Larry Mishkar
of Larry Mishkar
of Larry Mishkar
Winter Living and Camp Set Up
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 quickly in the great white North.
Constructing a shelter to ward off the chilling winds before cooking a warm, hearty dinner over an outdoor fire rounds out the day. Reflective evening conversations with fellow travelers amongst the solitude of the wintry North Woods ground this extraordinary adventure. Students often enjoy clear evening stargazing before drifting off into a well-deserved sleep.
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. Designated service projects are coordinated with land managers like the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and National Park Service to collaborate on land restoration projects while other projects may be based in the local community. Students develop a value of service, seeing the impact of their actions firsthand, and transfer this desire to serve to their communities back home.
Weather and time permitting, students take at least one important break from the rigors of the expedition. The Solo experience provides students time alone to reflect on their Outward Bound experience. Many students use this valuable time to write letters to family or friends while others use this time to make significant decisions about their future. The duration of each Solo ranges between 24 and 72 hours. Regardless of Solo length, all students receive sufficient food, water and shelter to keep them safe and healthy. Instructors choose Solo sites to offer as much solitude as possible while retaining some proximity to the whole group. While students spend the majority of their Solo time alone, Instructors check on each student as often as needed, usually one to four times per day, to ensure that each student feels safe and comfortable. Instructors work with each student individually to structure a successful, unique Solo experience that meets their specific needs.Students often 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.
of Larry Mishkar
Personal Challenge Event
Extended expeditions typically end each phase with a Personal Challenge Event (PCE). The PCE is a non-competitive individual final physical challenge that allows students to set their own goals and work toward them. Time and weather permitting, students will finish the Florida section of the course with a physical challenge likely involving sea and land elements. The Minnesota portion of their course will likely end with a ski event and a final celebration at basecamp with an authentic wood-fired sauna and a “polar plunge” in the river.
The Florida Keys, home to numerous birds and abundant marine life, is rich with the confluence of water flowing out of the Everglades into inner Florida Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. The waterways are shallow and intricate, providing an exciting cruising area for Outward Bound’s nimble, shallow-draft sailboats. Winding channels through the backcountry offer challenging and exciting navigation and the opportunity to explore mangrove keys, grassy tidal flats and coral patch reefs. The Atlantic side offers open water sailing and, in calm weather, excellent snorkeling at the outer reefs. Course routes are based on course type, local conditions, logistics and weather patterns. Whether on the Atlantic or Gulf side, students will have lots of opportunities to learn the skills it takes to sail and travel in traditional sailboats, live in community with teammates, be challenged and reap the rewards. These regions are the ancestral lands of the Seminole, Matecumbe, Cuchiyaga and Guarungumbe nations.
Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Minnesota
Over 10,000 years ago, continental-sized glaciers scraped their way across much of Ontario and northern Minnesota leaving deep ruts, ravines and holes in their tracks. Eventually as the glaciers melted, these ravines filled with water, creating a seemingly endless interconnected web of lakes and rivers. In the winter, the BWCAW transforms into an even more severe and remote wilderness. Winter enthusiasts travel over frozen lakes and rivers by dogsled, cross-country ski and snowshoe. Although it is more difficult than other seasons, 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.
Orientation to Base, the group, and the course
Advanced Wilderness First Aid Course, on Base
Sail Training Days
Open Water Diver Certification Course
Prepare for Sailing Expedition
Sailing expedition with Life Guarding Course and multi-day Solo
Base Transition Day – clean up, and get ready to travel
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.