Designed specifically to help families rebuild strong, healthy relationships, this 50-day expedition is ideal for teens struggling with low self-image, engaging in potentially risky behaviors, not living up to their potential and demonstrating poor decision making skills. Students participate in two expeditions: a wilderness canoeing expedition and a backpacking section that is planned and led by the students and supervised by instructors to ensure student safety. The wilderness phase concludes with an intensive family conference and workshop, in which each member of your family will work to recognize the problems that have occurred in the past and move forward as a family. This conference helps the entire family leverage the experience into a model for everyday life; both parents and teens walk away with a new outlook, a new plan and new optimism for success.
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.
Spring semester students begin their travel by “Ice Canoeing.” They learn a variety of skills for traversing a landscape that is literally melting away below their feet. By far one of the most unique paddling experiences participants could ever hope to experience, students have the opportunity to witness and interact with the changing seasons as the northern winter melts into spring. The group navigates the Boundary Waters by pulling and pushing their boats like sleds over thick sheets of ice stretching across the wilderness in all directions. As temperatures warm and the ice melts, students paddle narrow channels between shattered ice sheets, eventually paddling on completely open water.
Summer and fall semester students begin their expedition on open lakes. Participants complete an extended canoe expedition that is entirely self-supported. This means that the group brings all of the food and gear that they need in order to live in the backcountry for three weeks. The 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.
Two days are focused on rock climbing during this semester. During 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 something that will both challenge them and encourage the expansion of their comfort zone.
The crew works together to carry everything they need in large backpacks while hiking from campsite to campsite. Students hike 5 to 10 miles a day depending on terrain. Groups tend to camp near pristine rivers and lakes each evening to have access to water. Students learn how to filter and purify their water for drinking and cooking, prepare meals over a fire or stove, set up shelters and navigate with a map and compass.
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. Students 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.
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 a mid-course phone conference and a course-end intensive three-day seminar helps form and solidify the path ahead. Mid-course, parents will schedule a phone call with the course director. The phone call will be with both their child and at least one Instructor. Updates, current goals, struggles and successes will be shared. 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 successes 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, Minnesota
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 students 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.
Border Route Hiking Trail, Minnesota
The Border Route Trail is a 65-mile long hiking trail that crosses the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) in the far northeast corner of Minnesota. It was planned and built in the early 1970s by the Minnesota Rovers Outing Club, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the US Forest Service. It is the first long-distance, wilderness-backpacking trail in Minnesota that was planned and constructed by volunteers.
The Border Route Trail follows the international border between Minnesota and Canada and is a rugged wilderness area. The trail travels up ridge lines and over cliffs that provide impressive views of the BWCAW in Minnesota and Quetico Provincial Park in Canada. Even though it is a maintained trail, downed trees and patches of thick brush are common obstacles on the trail. The Border Route Hiking trail provides solitude and beauty to be enjoyed by all who hike it.
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