Designed specifically to help families rebuild strong, healthy family relationships in an awe-inspiring true American wilderness, this expedition is geared towards teens who are struggling with low self-image, engaging in potentially risky behaviors, not living up to their potential and making poor decisions. During the expedition, instructors facilitate activities that focus on building teamwork skills, making better decisions and considering the relationship between freedom and responsibilities at home. The goal is to help each student find the leader within themselves. At the end of the wilderness expedition there is an intensive family conference and workshop that helps families leverage the experience into a model for everyday life. Students and their families walk away with a new outlook, a new plan and a new optimism for success. This Intercept expedition also includes two days of community service at locations such as a local CSA farm, Habitat for Humanity or the Salvation Army.
This course is closed for the season. 2018 courses coming soon.
Outward Bound Intercept expeditions are specifically designed for struggling teens and their families. These highly structured courses remove young people from the pressures and influences of home and school, and present them instead with healthy risks and natural challenges. In a fresh, wilderness environment, students practice new ways of making choices and setting goals.
Students complete an extended canoe expedition. This 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, 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. Once there it is possible to quietly observe bald eagles, moose and peaceful sunsets on mirror-calm lakes.
Regardless of a student’s rock climbing background, they are sure to find something that will encourage the expansion of their comfort zone. Students learn about general rock-climbing equipment, safety and etiquette before learning how to belay. The full day of rock climbing provides ample opportunities to climb, belay and rappel over the edge, eventually descending safely to the base of majestic rock.
One day 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. This course offers students the opportunity to increase participants’ skill and knowledge of whitewater paddling, progressing from maneuvering in small currents to more challenging rapids. Emphasis is placed on boat control, safety and enjoying the thrill of whitewater paddling.
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.
As the course draws to a close, students have made great strides having learned how to balance freedom and responsibility, how to be part of a team, and how to make good choices and stick by them. They feel good about themselves and life. But now it’s back to reality. How do teens and families translate the incredible Intercept experience into lasting positive change?
Parents or guardians are a critical link in the success of the Intercept experience. Parents and guardians have the opportunity to think through their relationship with their teen by using a comprehensive workbook. Then, an intensive two- or three-day seminar helps form and solidify the path ahead.
The next step is the parent conference and debrief. Families meet one-on-one with at least one of the expedition instructors to learn how their teen fared on the course. They hear a detailed account of what the course was like, the struggles and success of the group, and how their teen handled the challenges. With the instructor, parents prepare for the next day’s meeting with their teen.
Finally, it’s time to make a plan. Together with an instructor acting as a facilitator, parents and teens come up with a new agreement to guide life at home. The goal for the family is to know that teens can conduct themselves appropriately and to clearly define expectations. The goal for the student is to have a say in the direction their life takes and to clearly understand what is required to earn more freedom.
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 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 programming 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 Intercept course in particular offers the opportunity to be fully removed from the temptations and triggers of day-to-day life and start fresh with new habits and new lessons. Students can expect to get comfortable living and working together in the wilderness while creating a solid foundation of skill sets and they can continue to build on after course. With the added support of parent or guardian involvement, students are really able to take lessons they’ve learned on this course back to their home lives and implement the changes they want to see.
Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, MN
Established in 1964, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) is a labyrinth of lakes and rocks 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 has changed little since its unveiling when the glaciers melted 10,000 years ago. Over 1 million acres in size, the BWCAW extends nearly 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 an 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 you can canoe, portage and camp in the spirit of the French-Canadian Voyageurs of 200 years ago. The Boundary Waters' 1,200 miles of paddling routes offer outstanding opportunities for solitude, remoteness, teamwork, adventure and challenge.
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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.