What did you learn about yourself (or about life) as a result of your course?
“I learned I am a very kind-hearted person who can push oneself to crazy limits. I found my passion for closing chapters of my life and to start helping others, excited for the journey to begin.” – Matthew, Alumnus
“This course changed me, physically and emotionally. I am a better and stronger person from this course. I learned to be self-reliant, independent, and strong; emotionally and physically capable of more than I thought.” – Laurel, 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
During this intensive nine-week semester course, the border lakes region of Minnesota and Canada serves as a unique and inspiring classroom for significant leadership development. While hands-on experience throughout the expedition helps to develop broad technical skills, the length of the course encourages in-depth learning and reflection on personal goals, leadership styles, problem-solving techniques, effective communication, group processing and the ethic of service. With a focus on developing leaders who aspire to learn while striving to make a positive difference in the world, the Canadian Border Leadership Semester is guaranteed to be a Gap Year like no other.
*Please note that you will be required to have a valid passport in order to cross into Canada. If you do not have a passport or need to renew it, please start the process now as it can take weeks to receive your passport.
This course is closed for the season. 2019 courses coming soon.
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.
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.
Completing an extended canoe expedition includes learning the art of paddling a canoe in a variety of conditions, as well as map and compass reading, route finding and Leave No Trace wilderness living principles. Groups navigate a variety of waterways such as lakes, rivers and swamps, as well as working as a team to carry packs and canoes over portage trails when transitioning from one lake to another or to get safely around challenging rapids. Traveling by canoe allows groups to go far past where motorboats operate and, once there, it is possible to quietly observe bald eagles, moose and peaceful sunsets on mirror-calm lakes.
During three 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 engages them and encourages the expansion of their comfort zone.
Student groups travel to the Canadian north shore of Lake Superior to begin their sea kayak expedition from the Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area. Students learn the art of paddling a sea kayak in varied weather, landing the craft in a variety of conditions and navigating and rescue techniques. Instructors share the secrets of handling and balancing the boat safely, regardless of the elements, as well as how to effectively teach these skills to others.
Students develop their paddling skills and bond as a group while traveling and camping along the rugged, rocky Superior shoreline. Additionally, they experience challenging open water crossings where fog, waves and weather test their newly acquired navigation skills.
On the southern edge of the massive Canadian Shield, a granite rock formation that runs from Minnesota to Hudson Bay and the Northwest Territories, sits the largest freshwater lake in the world: Lake Superior. The Superior Hiking Trail follows the northern shore of the lake from Duluth, Minnesota to Canada, covering almost 300 miles along the low-lying Sawtooth Mountain range. Students spend four to six days hiking on the trail, which meanders through dense boreal forest, offers awe-inspiring overlooks and plunges into pristine river valleys. Well-marked trails, designated campsites and challenging terrain make the Superior Hiking Trail a great introductory backpacking experience.
This course offers students the opportunity to increase their skill and knowledge of whitewater paddling, progressing from maneuvering in small currents to more challenging rapids (up to Class III). Emphasis is placed on boat control, safety and enjoying the thrill of whitewater paddling. Two days of whitewater canoeing and a half-day of whitewater kayaking add to the excitement and breadth of the experience. Students learn how to “read” water and trust themselves to make split-second decisions in order to determine the best routes through the rushing waves.
Looking out over the top of the boreal forest, the high ropes course is an incredible obstacle course set 30 feet in the air. Students swing from Tarzan ropes, walk on tightrope wires and climb a cargo net before jumping on the zip line for an exhilarating ride back to solid ground.
Service to others and the environment is a core value of Outward Bound and is integrated into each course. Participants follow Leave No Trace ethics as service to the environment and do acts of service while leading and supporting fellow participants. Designated service projects are coordinated with land managers like the US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and National Park Service to collaborate on land restoration projects. Some projects are more social services based, and participants may visit a nursing home or hospital to provide service there. Students develop a value of service, seeing the impact of their actions firsthand, and transfer this desire to serve to their communities back home.
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, and Canadian Lake Superior
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.
Lake Superior, Ontario
The Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area is a wilderness archipelago along the Canadian north shore of Lake Superior. A rugged and pristine landscape of sparkling, clear water, cliffs, pebble and sand beaches and numerous islands, it is the largest freshwater, protected marine environment in the world and a premier sea kayaking destination.
The Superior Hiking Trail
The Superior Hiking Trail winds its way among birch, cedars and maples while crossing over dozens of sculptured waterfalls that cascade into Lake Superior. Well-marked trails, campsites and moderately challenging terrain make this a perfect place to gain independence from Instructors, continue to build teamwork and finish your expedition with style.
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.