Desert life provides the opportunity for you to find challenge, purpose and camaraderie while discovering new ways to connect to service in civilian life. This particular course is designed for all levels of backpacking expertise as you embark to explore some of the most iconic desert wilderness in the United States. As a weeklong course, you’ll carry less pack weight to focus on covering greater distances. Along the way, the group will take time to reflect, relate and support one another as you swap stories and take turns leading the group down the trail.
This course is not currently accepting enrollments. Please check back.
Outward Bound Veterans expeditions focus on team camaraderie and the opportune challenges available in nature as tools to build connections and successes beyond military life. These expeditions encourage participants to explore their strengths and bond with fellow veterans in a safe, positive, goal-oriented environment that allows each veteran to apply their service skills in new ways. From carrying heavy packs, moving fatigued muscles and sleeping outside to exerting leadership, communication and decision-making skills, these courses help shape and support the self-confidence and sense of purpose many veterans need to continue serving as leaders in their families, communities and the nation.
Each veteran student returns home from their Outward Bound expedition having discovered more about themselves and what they want to achieve, how to overcome setbacks and, most importantly, how to move forward to reach important new milestones.
This course is designed for those either new to backpacking, or who have some experience and are interested in exploring the desert environment. The wildly beautiful Joshua Tree National Park receives more than a million visitors each year, but only a handful of those venture beyond the parking lot. With this up-close view, participants will see the rich ecosystem of birds and animals beside the parks’ namesake, the Joshua Tree, cactus and palms.
Participants will learn basic backcountry skills such as navigation and how to assess and adapt to varying weather conditions. Student participants on Outward Bound courses share the weight of food and gear carried in backpacks and everyone assists with camp chores such as cooking, cleaning and tarp setup.
Service to others and to the environment are core values of Outward Bound and they are integrated into each course. Participants follow Leave No Trace ethics as part of their service to the environment. Veterans students enhance their already ingrained appreciation of service with multiple small acts of service with and for their crewmates while leading and supporting each other throughout the journey.
Outward Bound courses vary in length from four (4) to 85 days. On shorter courses, participants will receive an introduction to leadership skills, strength of character and a desire to serve while activities fill most of the time and the pace is quick. With longer courses, the same outcomes and benefits are achieved with the opportunity to reach a more profound level of mastery as there are more chances to develop technical skills, receive and implement feedback and further personal development. However many days the expedition lasts, the strength and impact of the experience lasts a lifetime.
Backpacking and wilderness navigation techniques are great practice for the essential skills and habits that help prepare for new challenges at work, home and in the community. Outward Bound expeditions encourage students:
Welcome to the high desert moonscape, where rugged mountains and desert plateaus were sculpted by wind and rain. Three distinct ecosystems come together to form this land of extremes, melding the dark, cold, starry nights with warm, sandy and boulder-filled days. Participants will travel through granite monoliths and through narrow canyons that have attracted travelers from around the world long before the park became a national park in 1936.
The Mojave Desert’s sunny fall and spring weather is perfect for a week on the trail or basecamping below the next climb. Weather in the park is generally dry and rainfall is sparse, though unpredictable and sometimes persistent thunderstorms do occur. Temperatures can vary, averaging 50 to 80 degrees during the day to a cool 30 degrees at night and potentially hitting 100 degrees early or late in the season.
Travel in the desert takes careful planning to ensure an ample water supply. Logistics staff place water and food caches around the park to enable extended backcountry travel in this unique wilderness.