The Oregon Cascades and Idaho Salmon River Leadership Semester course is the longest course in the Northwest, and focuses on the skills that support strong leadership. While practicing and honing inter- and intrapersonal skills like communication, feedback, decision making and goal setting, you will also learn to mountaineer, rock climb and whitewater raft on two of the most renowned rivers in the West, the Salmon River in Idaho and the Deschutes River in Oregon. Because of the length of this 65-day course, you will have time to explore skill development, backcountry living and physical and mental challenge in the most spectacular of outdoor learning environments. A 3-day introduction to wilderness medicine with the opportunity to earn your Wilderness First Aid (WFA) certification is included in the course.
This course is closed for the season. 2020 courses coming soon.
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.
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.
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.
During the portion of the course focused on mountaineering and alpine climbing, students will learn skills such as knots and hitches, fixed-lines, climbing techniques and anchor building. Wilderness skills such as navigation, natural history and living in the backcountry are also taught. Mountaineering courses spend time both on and off trail, traveling to remote and beautiful places that are ideal Outward Bound classrooms. Each day presents a different set of activities, with ample time for experiential learning. The Instructor-to-student ratio is never more than 1:5 during this section, allowing for personal coaching on the physical techniques of climbing and mountaineering, as well as catering the curriculum to the specific interests and aptitudes of individual students.
Students will travel on the river in four- to six-person paddle rafts, and learn to “captain” (maneuver) their paddle raft team through Class II to IV rapids. After lessons in basic river travel and safety, students will learn to read currents, anticipate obstacles, scout rapids, and negotiate technical portions of the river. Students will also learn river hydrology, swimming in currents, paddle techniques, and expeditionary travel. While on the rafting expedition, there may also be an opportunity for short day hikes.
Students will receive individual instruction and test their skills against vertical cracks, steep faces and boulders. Camping will be in a front country site at Smith Rock State Park among the multicolored cliffs and spires. Students will learn about basic climbing equipment, rope management, tying knots, belaying and rappelling techniques, and movement on rock.
The Wilderness First Aid (WFA) course is a 3-day introduction to wilderness medicine that combines classroom time with practical sessions.. Students will leave this 3-day section with a certification in Wilderness First Aid and the knowledge to manage simple injuries/illnesses in the backcountry. It is a great stepping stone into wilderness medicine and may lead to a desire to take longer, more complex courses in the future.
Outward Bound believes that an appropriate amount of independence is a powerful educational tool. During the travel sections of this course, Outward Bound Instructors purposefully and gradually transfer certain leadership responsibilities to the students culminating in a “Final Expedition.” Near the end of course—if the group has demonstrated the necessary leadership, team problem-solving and wilderness living skills—students may have the opportunity to travel without Instructors immediately present. Many of our students feel this phase of the course is the most rewarding, as the group learns to work as a team, problem solve, and accomplish a goal independently, while applying all the skills they have acquired.
Service to others and to the environment is a core value of Outward Bound. Groups follow Leave No Trace ethics as part of their service to the environment and engage in acts of service while leading and supporting fellow participants. Seeing the impact of their actions firsthand, students develop an ingrained appreciation of service and transfer this desire to serve their communities back home.
In order for profound learning to take place, students need time to reflect on their experience, and Solo is that opportunity. 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. With sufficient food and equipment, students will set up camp at sites of their own choosing, using the wilderness skills learned during the first portions of the course. The amount of time students spend on Solo is based on length of course, weather, student condition, age, and Instructor preference. Solo campsites are chosen to offer as much solitude as possible (and still be within emergency whistle-signaling distance of other group members). Most students spend their Solo time journaling, drawing, reflecting, thinking and resting as they process lessons of the course and focus on their goals for the future. Instructors check on each participant at regular intervals, as safety is always the top priority.
Outward Bound courses vary in length from 4 to 85 days. On shorter courses, students will receive an introduction to leadership skills, strength of character and a desire to serve. 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. On the 65-day Leadership Semester students should expect to come to a thorough understanding and demonstration of technical skills and be able to perform with little supplementary intervention during the final phase of course.
Deschutes River, Oregon
The Deschutes River is part of the national Wild & Scenic Rivers System. The river flows north from the Oregon Cascades to the Columbia River and then on to the Pacific Ocean. The Lower Deschutes is a popular river for both whitewater rafting and fly fishing. The river is spring-fed, which results in an unusually constant cold water flow. Excellent geologic evidence is present all around this area. This course will travel the entire 96-mile stretch of the Lower Deschutes. The rapids on the Deschutes are rated to Class IV, mostly Class II-III, and are excellent for learning paddle skills, hydrology and teamwork. The group camps each night along the banks of the river. The Deschutes River Canyon borders the Confederated Tribes of the Warm Springs for the first 60 miles, and follows a railroad for much of the length of the Lower Deschutes.
Central Cascades, Oregon
Volcanoes dot the spine of the Cascade Mountains, rising over 10,000 feet above the forests, lakes and rivers of the surrounding region. These glaciated peaks run north and south and create perfect mountaineering objectives for students. The Central Cascade range is home to the Three Sisters, Broken Top, Mt. Washington, Three Fingered Jack, and Mt. Jefferson. Four 10,000 foot glaciated volcanoes are present in this course area, with a total of nine major volcanoes. Active glaciers carve away the mountain while avalanches leave dramatic traces that alter the landscape. It is these features of the volcanoes that create a challenging playground from which students learn the more technical aspects of mountaineering and backpacking.
Smith Rock State Park, Oregon
Smith Rock is a world-renowned climbing destination that attracts climbers of every ability level. It is widely considered to be one of the top sport climbing areas in the country. The Crooked River lazily winds its way through the canyon, cutting a path through the cliffs and spires. To the west, the snow-capped volcanoes of the Cascade Range rise on the horizon, above the flat checkerboard of irrigated plains. One of the most striking features is a prominent spire, Monkey Face. Given the dry and temperate climate, rock climbing is feasible most of the year.
Lower Salmon River, Idaho
Starting in Whitebird, Idaho, the Salmon River has created the second deepest river gorge in North America (deeper than the Grand Canyon!) and is also the last free flowing river in the United States. Because there are no dams, sand is carried downstream from high creeks and tributaries and deposited in the form of beautiful white sand beaches providing idyllic camping conditions. The river meanders through the second largest protected wilderness area in the contiguous United States, The Frank Church Wilderness. The entire trip includes seventy three miles of river travel and many rapids up to Class IV. The river journey ends on the lower end of the Snake River in Hell’s Canyon, the deepest canyon in the country. Our seven day trips allow you to explore the many historical and cultural sites that the Lower Salmon has to offer, from houses lived in by Chinese miners to Native American pictographs.
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.