Photograph (above) taken by Zach Shenal
Sample Itinerary
Course start, introductory lessons in sea kayaking and water safety, begin paddling
Kayaking, lessons in advanced paddling technique, expedition strategy and camp craft
Kayaking final challenge
Resupply, introductory lesson in backpacking, begin hiking
Introduction to rock climbing and belay technique, solo
Backpacking, lessons in map/compass travel, final challenge
Return to base, clean and de-issue gear, service project
Personal challenge event, graduation, depart for the airport

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.

During a safety exercise, a person flips their kayak over while an instructor braces it.
Photo courtesy of Zach Shenal
a group of teens take a break from paddling kayaks on a large body of water lined by trees
Photo courtesy of Zach Shenal
A group of young people rest on pads in the grass near their tents. The sun is setting behind a body of water in the background.
Photo courtesy of Kevin Neff
a group of teens sit on a beach while on a kayaking course
Photo courtesy of Zach Shenal
A young person smiles confidently as they paddle a kayak on very blue water.
Photo courtesy of Peter Turcik
A young person sitting in a kayak looks back at the camera during a break from paddling. Trees line the shore in the background.
Photo courtesy of Zach Shenal
A young person smiles at the camera while paddling on a large body of water.
Photo courtesy of Zach Shenal

Settled by the Powhatan Indians and first explored by Captain John Smith in the 1600s, history and nature intersect in the Chesapeake Bay to create a place with endless potential for discovery. Students paddle throughout the Chesapeake Bay, camping each night along the shoreline. Instructors teach proper sea kayaking techniques such as paddling, rolls and wet exits.  Students also learn marine navigation and face challenges that develop advanced leadership skills separate from the technical skills they will be mastering.

A young person holds a small reptile while three others gently pet it
Photo courtesy of Zach Shenal
a person holds kindling in their hand while another works to light a spark
Photo courtesy of Zach Shenal
two students wrap a rope around a tree while setting up camp in a wooded area.
Photo courtesy of Zach Shenal
A person smiles while sitting on the ground in a wooded area. You can see the legs of two people resting in a hammock and others on the ground, too.
Photo courtesy of Zach Shenal
a young person carrying a backpack crosses a wooden bridge over a creek in a wooded area
Photo courtesy of Zach Shenal
a group of teens sit around a campfire in a wooded area
Photo courtesy of Dalton Johnson
A person wearing a headlamp stokes a small fire while backpacking with outward bound.
Photo courtesy of Dalton Johnson

Students learn how to hike effectively and efficiently as well as how to set up and manage trail campsites each night. As the team overcomes numerous expedition challenges, they develop a greater belief in themselves and trust in one another. Successful completion of this course requires more than the mastery of technical skills. It also requires adaptability, decision making and teamwork.The Appalachian Trail is a footpath that runs from Georgia to Maine, and is the crown jewel of trails in the United States.  Students backpack for five days in the wilderness of western Maryland and southern Pennsylvania.

a young person wearing a helmet and secured by ropes pauses rock climbing to smile at the camera
Photo courtesy of Dalton Johnson
A young person wearing safety gear is secured by ropes as they reach higher on the wall they are climbing. The sky behind them is blue.
Photo courtesy of Dalton Johnson
A person wearing safety gear is secured by ropes while climbing a rock wall. There are green trees and blue skies in the background.
Photo courtesy of Dalton Johnson
From above, you can see a rock climber wearing safety gear making their way up a rock wall
Photo courtesy of Dalton Johnson
Looking down, you can see several people wearing helmets standing at the base of a rock wall. One person is climbing.
Photo courtesy of Dalton Johnson
A young person wearing safety gear is secured by ropes as they navigate a crack in a rock wall they are climbing.
Photo courtesy of Matt Freiere

During the expedition, students take a break from hiking and spend an afternoon rock climbing. This challenging activity pushes students out of their comfort zones and helps develop trust among crew members. Students rely on one another for support and encouragement to reach the top of cliff faces and crags.

Three young people use gardening tools during a service project with outward bound.
Photo courtesy of Ben Worden
Young people use gardening tools during a service day with Outward Bound.
Photo courtesy of Ben Worden
The hands of a person appear to be removing a likely invasive species from the ground
Photo courtesy of Ben Worden
Gloved hands hold open a black trash bag while another gloved hand drops something into the bag.
Photo courtesy of Ben Worden
A young person holds two pieces of wood while another uses a tool to attach a screw
Photo courtesy of Brock Jones
Two people make sandwiches while sitting on pads and a tarp
Photo courtesy of Brock Jones

Service to others and to the environment are core values of Outward Bound and they are integrated into each course. Participants follow Recreate Responsibly ethics as part of their service to the environment. Students develop an ingrained appreciation of service, seeing the impact of their actions firsthand, by multiple small acts of service with and for their crewmates while leading and supporting each other throughout the journey.

In order for profound learning to take place, there must be time to reflect on the experience. Solo is that opportunity, and that time can range anywhere from 30 minutes to 24 hours. It is a chance to experience solitude in the wilderness without distraction while also taking a break from the physical rigors of activities. Students experience short periods of time away from their group throughout the course for reflection.  These “mini-solos” are at solo sites chosen by Instructors to provide as much solitude as possible (within emergency whistle-signaling distance of other group members). Participants have all necessary equipment, food and water during their Solo time, and safety is always the top priority.

Helping students and their families see positive development in character skills is a key component of Outward Bound courses. After completing the course, students will receive a written narrative from their instructor that highlights how the student engaged in the course, what strengths were observed, and any recommendations for further development.

Photo courtesy of Peter Turcik
Photo courtesy of Peter Turcik
Photo courtesy of Zach Shenal
Photo courtesy of Zach Shenal
Photo courtesy of Zach Shenal

Chesapeake Bay, Nanticoke River

The Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the nation -  the meeting point where 400 rivers, creeks, and streams spanning from New York to Virginia all travel to the Atlantic Ocean.  It boasts 4,600 miles of tidal shoreline perfect for kayaking. Outward Bound courses use a section of the historic 3,000-mile Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail which trace the 1607–1609 voyages of Captain John Smith to chart the land and waterways of the Bay. Along with the Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail, it is one of two water trails designated as National Historic Trails. These regions are the ancestral lands of the Nentego (Nanticoke) nation.

Appalachian Trail

The Appalachian Trail in Maryland follows a 41-mile route along the backbone of South Mountain, a north-south ridge that extends from Pennsylvania to the Potomac River. The AT varies in elevation across the state from 230 feet to more than 1860 feet. The trail extends to the north into Southern Pennsylvania’s Michaux State Forest where Outward Bound students in this area will rock climb at one of three sites: Annapolis Rocks, Shaffer Rocks or Pole Steeple in the nearby Pine Grove Furnace State Park. These regions are the ancestral lands of the Massawomeck and Piscataway 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.