"The Maine to Bahamas Environmental Science Semester was an incredible experience for me. I am studying environmental and marine sciences in college, so this program was right up my alley. Perhaps more impactful however, was the team-like atmosphere and sense of togetherness that Outward Bound intrinsically creates. There is something about sleeping together in tents or sleeping under the stars in the middle of the ocean that brings people together. While on course, I learned how to be accountable, and how to look out for the people standing next to me. I gained so much from this program, and cannot recommend it highly enough." Jack Elstner, Outward Bound alumnus
Learn to travel by canoe and sailboat along Maine’s rocky coast and around the Bahamas tropical waters. Earn a Wilderness First Responder Certification. Backpack and rock climb in Maine and participate in long running science projects at the Bahamas’ Cape Eleuthera Institute. This course is ideal for anyone seeking fresh challenges in a unique marine environment and an intense team setting. Throughout this semester course you will develop the skills needed to travel through the wilderness and better understand the natural world around you. The lessons learned and strengthened on this expedition will serve you for whatever challenges come next.
*This course is offered in partnership with The Island School to offer adventures in the Bahamas. Founded in 1999, The Island School offers transformative educational opportunities, which foster a process of inquiry in order to discover sustainable solutions to real world problems.
This course is closed for the season. 2019 courses coming soon.
Break away from traditional education and make the world your classroom on an Outward Bound Semester expedition. Experience life adventures and expand your skills as you interact with new environments and diverse cultures. Form lasting relationships with outdoor experts and crewmates who are sharing the same successes, failures and discoveries. Strengthen your commitment to community as you participate in service projects that support local needs.
Exploring new environments and building new connections will put your tenacity to the test. You’ll return with broader understanding of the natural world around you, deeper appreciation for small kindnesses and greater confidence in yourself and others that will serve you well long after you return.
In the foothills of Maine’s mountains are networks of remote lakes and rivers. Students learn to maneuver canoes using paddle strokes such as the sweep, draw, pry and J-stroke in the Androscogin, Penobscot, Kennebec or Allagash watershed(s) in Maine’s Northwoods. On the waterways of this five million acre forest, students portage (carry the canoes on their shoulders) to get from one waterway into another and line (guide the loaded canoe down the sides of unrunnable rapids). Expedition canoeing in Maine means paddling white water. During their canoe expedition students will learn how to scout, paddle and manage open canoes safely in Class II rapids. As they learn to work, communicate well and coordinate efforts paddling each day, students discover the power of truly working together.
Wilderness First Responder (WFR) certification is recognized as the standard level of expertise in backcountry first aid. This nationally recognized program trains participants to respond to emergencies in remote settings. The 80-hour curriculum includes standards for extended care situations. Half of students’ time is spent completing practical skills, case studies and scenarios designed to challenge their decision-making abilities in pressured situations.
Backpacking is an ideal combination of team and individual elements. The mountains of Maine are jagged and densely wooded, and the trails are remote, narrow and often steep. Students travel on wilderness footpaths; navigating on and off trail throughout the journey. From atop mountain peaks, if the weather cooperates, the group’s hard work is rewarded with spectacular views. Living and traveling with just a backpack is a simple existence, in which small choices can make deceptively great differences. To live well in the wilderness, all crew members must share the chores that turn a camp into a home, including setting up tents and tarps, creating a kitchen area, taking turns fetching water and cooking satisfying meals.
Rock climbing sessions take place at the many granite crags and cliffs that make northern New England a renowned climbing destination. Students learn how to properly use harnesses, helmets, ropes and belay devices. Participants will start with the basics of tying in to the rope and safely belaying each other and practice efficient movement over rock using friction techniques, edging and crack climbing. As students build experience and skills they will develop more advanced climbing techniques and practice setting up top ropes and building anchors at the different climbing sites.
This course offers students a unique opportunity to participate in long running science projects at the Cape Eleuthera Institute (CEI) and volunteer at Deep Creek Middle School in the Bahamas. They will have the chance to work with professors, graduate students and professional scientists on one of four ongoing research projects. Examples of projects students can pick from are: examine the health of mangrove ecosystems; bonefish population levels; Queen Conch population levels; and concentrations of micro-plastics and other marine debris (pollution). Under the guidance of head researchers, students gain the tools to collect data independently during their expedition in the Exuma Islands. The data will ultimately be compared to baseline data collected around Eleuthera, and presented to the CEIS community at the end of the course. In addition, participants will have the opportunity to volunteer at Deep Creek Middle School in Eleuthera. Working in the classroom and leading activities for the students, participants will have a chance to practice teaching and presenting while passing on some of the lessons they have learned on course.
Traditional 30-foot sailboats encourage teamwork and leadership like no other classroom. On an open boat with no cabin and no engine, the group will live closely together using only wind and oars to power their way. As they rotate responsibilities during the expedition, students learn the crafts of maneuvering under sail, coastal navigation, rowing and living aboard a small open boat. At night, students sleep on deck under a tarp, taking turns at anchor watch under brilliant night skies.
On this course, students:
This course ends with a Personal Challenge Event, an individual final physical push. This event might take the form of a timed swim or rowing event or it may be a combination of the two. The Personal Challenge Event is a chance for students to finish their Outward Bound Experience with a true personal challenge where they own all of their decisions and efforts in contrast to the time they have spent operating within an expedition team.
Service projects are often incorporated into Outward Bound courses through coordination with local land managers, conservation groups, government agencies or social service agencies. While in the wilderness, students are encouraged to practice service to the environment and their team by sharing responsibilities and following Leave No Trace ethics throughout the expedition.
The Solo experience provides an important break from the rigors of the expedition to give students quiet time to reflect on the Outward Bound experience. With the basics of food and equipment, and with safety a top priority, students will take some time away from the group to be alone at sites of their own, using the wilderness skills learned during the first parts of the course. Often located along beautiful lake shorelines or peaceful rivers, Solo sites are chosen to offer as much solitude as possible (yet be within emergency whistle-signaling distance of other group members). Most students spend their Solo time journaling, drawing or just thinking and resting as they process lessons learned and focus on their goals for the future. Instructors check on each participant at regular intervals. The time students spend on Solo depends on the length of the course. On courses longer than three weeks, Solo is up to 72 hours long.
This semester focuses on developing a solid foundation of expedition skills and a greater understanding of and appreciation for the natural world. While immersed in a challenging wilderness expedition, each student will take on leadership roles. Outward Bound’s curriculum combines skills necessary to become proficient in wilderness travel, and interpersonal skills that will benefit students in any setting. Through a series of different activities, students practice applying general principles in different elements and environments, deepening their understanding of each skill and building greater levels of ability. After gaining proficiency traveling through various ecosystems in Maine, acquired skills will be transferred to a marine setting. Students will embark on a sailing expedition in the Bahamas, gathering marine research data along the way. In addition to being a memorable adventure, this semester promotes situational thinking, individual and group goal setting, evaluation of options and decision-making and flexibility and effectiveness in problem solving.
The mountains of western Maine and northern New Hampshire comprise the northern end of the Appalachian mountain range. Within this region, the White Mountain National Forest, the Appalachian Trail, the Carter-Mahoosuc Range, the Grafton Loop Trail and the Caribou-Speckled Mountain Wilderness all offer classic backpacking terrain. These spruce, fir and hardwood forests are home to hundreds of species of birds as well as moose, deer and black bear. Rushing waterfalls, clear twisting streams and spectacular views from rocky summits reward backpackers ready for adventure.
The upper reaches of the Androscoggin watershed is fed by Aziscohos Lake, the Magalloway River, and the Rangeley Lakes. Indigenous Abenaki peoples used the Androscoggin as both a means of transportation between winter habitats inland, summer living on the coast and as a source of food. Later the Androscoggin River was used to move logs to mills downstate during the logging boom of the nineteenth century. These days the lakes and rivers are used primarily by canoeists, fisherman and other recreationalists. Some of the portage trails here, such as along the Rapid River, have been in use for centuries.
The Bahamas are a network of low lying islands, shallow banks and deep blue waters just across the Gulf Stream from southern Florida. Originally inhabited by peoples moving north through the Caribbean from South America, for most of recorded history these expansive and remote islands served as hideouts for privateers, buccaneers and pirates. These renegades were slowly brought to order by the British Crown, and the islands became a haven for fisherman, woodcutters, salt exporters and freed slaves from the United States and the Atlantic slave trades. Now a destination for sailors seeking stunning and remote cruising grounds and those researching marine ecology, the Bahamas are vibrant ecosystem and diverse culture.
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