Alpine Backpacking, Desert Backpacking, Canyon Backpacking, River Navigation, Canyoneering, Rafting
Wilderness First Responder
Basic Paddle Strokes
Belaying a Climber
Food Preparation and Cooking
Leave No Trace Methods & Ethics
Map and Compass
Safety and Risk Management
Positive Risk Taking
Sense of Social Connection
Gain the technical and interpersonal skills needed to prepare for a career in the outdoor industry.
With the beautiful Rocky Mountains as your classroom, you will learn how to lead in the best way – experientially. No experience necessary, as your course is structured to start with the basics of backpacking, backcountry cooking, water purification, setting up shelters, and Leave No Trace ethics. You’ll also learn the skills involved in backcountry traveling by land and by boat. Develop rock climbing skills in an intensive rock camp that includes how to set up anchors, rappel, tie knots, and belay. Throughout the course there will also be lessons on managing group dynamics, assessing risk, problem solving, leadership, and Wilderness First Aid.
As you learn how to lead an expedition from the very beginning, you will learn how to teach these skills as you learn them yourself. You will be able to apply your knowledge and skills at the end of the course through running a three day practicum for local youth. Finally, you will return to the field for a self-directed expedition, called Finals, where you and your crew will lead the way and your Instructors will follow. At the end of course you will receive feedback and assessment of your skills and leadership style. You will return home with an understanding of yourself and how to build a team, skills that will help you as a future outdoor educator or in any other career you choose in the future.
NOTE: For the health and safety of students and staff in the COVID-19 pandemic, students may be required to travel to course start by private transportation. Please work directly with your Course Advisor for your course for the most up-to-date and regionally-focused travel options. All students and staff must provide a current negative COVID-19 viral test result before arrival to course and/or consent to having a COVID-19 test administered at course start. Outward Bound requires students and staff to follow COVID-19 protocols for 14 days prior to course start and while traveling including physical distancing, wearing a mask in public, and frequent and thorough handwashing. For complete “Health and Safety Practices for Outward Bound Expeditions,” click here.
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For detailed information on course availability statuses and what they mean, click here.
This course starts within the next week. Please call us at 866-467-7651 to assess the possibility of applying for this course!
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.
ENROLLMENT CLOSED 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.
Outdoor Educator Expeditions
Are you motivated by the never-ending discovery in the adventure of the outdoors? Are you passionate about sharing knowledge and helping future generations become comfortable and confident appreciators of the natural world and skilled wilderness wanderers? Working as an outdoor educator requires deep technical expertise in outdoor skills alongside hands-on training in the science behind experiential learning and how to create lasting impact for students. Outward Bound leads the outdoor education industry in both areas, providing a coveted foundation to jump-start an outdoor-involved career.
Build skills, form connections: Refine backcountry, technical, and interpersonal skills - and practice teaching them. Help students evaluate options, manage risks, and learn to engage people of different ages and backgrounds in an environment where they are “crew, not passengers.” Master the outdoor knowledge, strengths and skills that can’t be found in a traditional classroom.
Value strengths and strengthen values: Absorb the technical prowess you’ll need to master multiple outdoor activities and potentially help others do the same. Discover the power of reflection and how to create lasting impact behind every adventure, challenge and opportunity.
Demonstrate mastery: Learn from legendary outdoor educators and add your own strengths as you design and lead your own courses, as you take on physical and mental challenges in numerous wilderness environments and as you become responsible for the creation and fulfillment of life-changing lessons.
Train in basic first aid and wilderness medicine: Learn the principles and techniques of patient assessment, care and treatment in remote and extreme environments. Earn Wilderness Advanced First Aid (WAFA) Certification on select courses.
What you’ll learn: Return home with the knowledge and skills necessary for teaching and leading field-based wilderness education programs. Depending on the course, you’ll have expanded knowledge and skills relating to a variety of land and/or water-based activities. You’ll be a conscientious safety and risk management leader and you’ll have a solid grounding in the Outward Bound philosophy and methodology for teaching and facilitation.
The Outdoor Educator course is the most comprehensive Outward Bound course available, allowing you to work in and through the widest variety of wilderness environments and develop high level skills in each. Beyond preparing you for career opportunities in the outdoor industry, you may also earn academic credit in the field of Recreation and Outdoor Education.
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.
of Ian McConnell
of Ian McConnell
of Ian McConnell
of Ian McConnell
Backpackers carry everything they need – food, shelter, clothing and gear – allowing them to go deep into the wilderness where few people go. Students feel a sense of freedom from deadlines and task lists as they grow accustomed to eating when hungry, setting up camp when tired and having complete control over what they accomplish each day. The simplicity of hiking gives students the opportunity to focus both internally on their own thoughts and self-reliance, as well as externally to connect deeply with others as they talk, sing, play games and spend time together without distraction.
This course begins with lessons in basic travel and camping techniques. Along the way, students learn Leave No Trace techniques, map and compass navigation and camp craft as they get a feel for the human and natural history of the area. Students backpack along valleys and long ridges, camp in basins with incredible views, and stop along the way to explore microclimates and alpine ecosystems. Students sleep under the stars, feel the sunshine on their face and maybe watch a few sunsets over the Rocky Mountains’ magical landscape.
The expedition includes at least one peak attempt. Peak attempts are major enterprises and typically require early morning starts and take all day to complete. Weather or other factors including group dynamics and physical ability may preclude even an attempt to ascend a peak.
of Kelly Crandall
of Aram Reeves
of Ashley Perry
of Kelly Crandall
of Kennon Lantz
of Miron Golfman
Each day on the river is spent learning to recognize and navigate various obstacles and hazards in the river and how to anticipate the forces of the current from far enough upstream. Students will work to become a team, coordinating spacing and paddle strokes. They will have an opportunity to be the captain of their raft and practice new skills as they maneuver through rapids and flat-water sections.
In places, the canyon rims rise thousands of feet above the river, enclosing participants in a remote world of rushing water, delicate ecosystems and unbelievable beauty. Most courses get the opportunity to take day hikes away from the river and up to the canyon rim. These hikes provide stunning views, a change of pace and often the chance to see Native American archeological sites, petroglyphs, pictographs and strange but remarkable geological formations.
of Griff Jones
of Griff Jones
of Griff Jones
of Griff Jones
of Griff Jones
of Griff Jones
of Griff Jones
of Griff Jones
of Griff Jones
of Matt Olsen
Rock climbing is the ultimate opportunity to challenge oneself physically, mentally and emotionally. Learning new body mechanics, balance and energy maintenance techniques will help students climb efficiently and unlock the incredible feeling of flowing up a route. There are many ways to climb the same rock, allowing each climber to solve the puzzle in their own way. Students will learn basic climbing techniques, helmet and harness use, climbing commands and belaying, placing gear, setting up top ropes and may have the opportunity to attempt multi-pitch ascents.
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, in which participants may visit a wolf sanctuary or community garden. Students develop a value of service, seeing the impact of their actions firsthand and transfer this desire to serve their communities back home.
On Outdoor Educator courses, the service component includes a 3-day practicum in which students become the Instructors. They will lead a mini-expedition with local youth that may include backpacking, wilderness skills, or rock climbing.
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 or more. Weather and time permitting, the Solo experience provides an important break from the rigors of the expedition and gives students the opportunity to reflect on their 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 prioritize 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.
Whether an 8-day course or an 80-day course, all Outward Bound expeditions are focused on building character and leadership skills. Short courses are a great option for students looking for an introduction to the outdoors or for those who need a quick recharge. On shorter courses, students learn camping and expedition basics, as well as the skills specific to the course activity, such as climbing or rafting. Students get to know fellow crew mates surprisingly well as they share this immersive and intense experience.
On longer courses, Instructors will progressively hand over more of the decision making and leadership of the expedition to students, allowing each person to test the new technical and interpersonal skills learned. On Semester expeditions, students learn advanced technical skills and on some courses, earn certifications. Longer courses give crews the opportunity to get past the “honeymoon” stage where individuals show more of their “real” selves. Through the dynamics of an evolving group setting, students have more freedom to investigate who they are and how they want to develop personally. All along the way, students will experience a wide variety of some of the most beautiful wilderness in the US and the world.
Colorado Rocky Mountains
The Rocky Mountains, one of the most famous mountain ranges in the world, stretch 3,000 miles from Alaska to New Mexico. The Colorado Rocky Mountains has the greatest concentration of high peaks in the lower 48, with hundreds of ‘Thirteeners’ (13,000 plus foot tall mountains), and 54 ‘Fourteeners.’ The state is famous for its abundant wilderness adventure possibilities, from skiing to rock climbing and mountaineering. Colorado courses may take place in The Gore, The Holy Cross, The Sawatch, The Elks, The Sangre de Cristos, the Rawah or the San Juans mountains. Each of these Colorado ranges present unique challenges, but they are all beautiful, wild and rugged. The Colorado Rockies lie within the ancestral lands of the Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱ (Ute), Cheyenne, Eastern Shoshone, Oceti Šakowiŋ (Sioux), Cheyenne, Arapaho, Pueblos, and Jicarillo Apache nations.
In an untamed corner of Wyoming’s Medicine Bow National Forest, the granite jewels of Vedauwoo (pronounced “vee-dah-voo”) beckon rock climbers. This surreal land features phenomenal formations of rock nestled into aspen and pine forests. This is the place to discover the perfect mix of wilderness and classroom, as well as an expansive spectrum of beginner to advanced crack and face climbing. The climbing routes vary in length from 50 feet to 200 feet and provide excellent opportunities for both single- and multi-pitch climbing.These regions are the ancestral lands of the Arapaho, Cheyenne and Očeti Šakówiŋ (Sioux) nations.
Desolation/Gray/Labyrinth Canyon on the Green River, Utah
Surrounded by the Tavaputs Plateau and bordered by the Uinta and Ouray Reservation on the east, the journey on the Green River begins in Desolation Canyon near Sand Wash. Throughout the canyon, there are spectacular rock formations, Native American archeological sites and abandoned ranches including McPherson Ranch, once frequented by Butch Cassidy's Wild Bunch. The tiered rock walls of Desolation give way to the earthy bluffs of Gray Canyon, creating a striking contrast that characterizes the next 25 miles of the journey. These regions are the ancestral lands of the Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱ (Ute) nation.
Course start, inspect and issue gear, meet Instructors. Travel to Vedauwoo, Wyoming.
Rock climbing camp: multiple days of focus on rock climbing will provide a thorough introduction to the sport and allow students to progress in climbing skills & safety techniques.
Backpacking, technical peak attempt. Students will learn how to navigate on and off trail, to fit and pack a backpack, to build shelters, and to cook delicious meals in the backcountry.
Return to the Leadville Mountain Center for a service project with a local partner organization such as the Blue River Horse Center or Leadville Fish Hatchery.
Rafting Desolation Canyon. This transition gives students a broader understanding of how to lead an expedition as different activities affect group dynamics and different terrain requires different safety management.
Teaching practicum: lead a mini-expedition for a group of local youth that may include rock climbing, backpacking, or other wilderness skills
Alpine backpacking finals in the Sawatch Range, Colorado. Students lead a 15-day expedition. Depending on conditions and group progress, Instructors will step back as much as possible to allow teams to make decisions.
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.