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Photograph (above) taken by Alice Burgess
Sample Itinerary
The following is an example of what your course itinerary might look like. Your actual course plan will vary according to weather, student skills and abilities, and instructor preferences.
DAY1
Course Start, welcome and introductions, duffle shuffle, course overview
DAY2-5
Whitewater rafting: Fitting and use of PFD, safety topics, captaining a raft, reading water, swim assessment, navigation, and camp-craft skills. Opportunity for a day hike, rock jump, rock climbing, rappelling.
DAY6-7
Continue to work on skills learned, opportunities for participants to captain rapids. Finish the roughly 100 miles of the Deschutes River at Deschutes State Park.
DAY8
Complete the 96 mile river rafting section and take out at Deschutes River State Park. De-issue river gear, close out river section. Issue mountain equipment.
DAY9
Travel to the mountains. Intro to pack-packing and hiking. Hike from the trailhead.
DAY10-12
Backpacking Section: Lessons on travel in mountain environment, navigation and map reading, camp craft skills, cooking, water treatment, hygiene, travel and etiquette.
DAY13-15
Mountaineering: Travel in mountain environment, continue to practice technical and human skills, lessons on conflict resolution, teamwork, goal setting. Opportunity to climb one of the mountains in the course area.
DAY16
Resupply: Depending on course itinerary, 21-day courses will resupply food and gear necessary for the remainder of course.
DAY17
Solo – length of Solo is dependent upon the group, itinerary, and the discretion of the instructors.
DAY18
Solo
DAY19-20
Navigate towards course end location. Groups are given the opportunity to be on finals which give them more autonomy to make decisions. The ability to be on finals is dependent on the culture of the group and the maturity to be given such responsibility.
DAY21
Personal Challenge Event, de-issue gear, de-brief, course end celebration and graduation.
DAY22
Travel home

Through captaining a raft down Class III rapids and leading a summit of the 9,000 ft peak of Mt. Thielsen, I have grown as a rafter, backpacker, trail-advocate, nature-enthusiast, team member, leader, friend and overall human being.

— Sophie

It’s time to make your own adventure. Outward Bound’s Classic expeditions for middle and high school students are built with you in mind. Make new friends, sleep under the stars, and learn skills like backcountry navigation and how to cook a delicious meal no matter where you are. You’ve got this! Whether you’re in a raft or on a mountainside, you’ll learn what you’re made of – and you’ll see first-hand how far teamwork can take you. Join us for an unforgettable challenge and discover a whole new way to get outside.  

  • Build skills, form connections: Learn and practice wilderness, teamwork and leadership skills. Find connections with your crewmates based on support and respect (and fun too!), and in the thick of challenges, discover there is more in you than you know.
  • Value strengths and strengthen values: Uncover your unique character strengths, develop your leadership abilities and learn how to let compassion in to everyday life by pushing your own limits and working alongside your peers.
  • Demonstrate mastery: As you gain confidence in new skills, take on more decision-making responsibilities. Work together to achieve team goals, solve problems and succeed both as individuals and as a group.
  • What you’ll learn:  Your connections matter – working together to navigate challenges will quickly turn your crewmates into friends. Together, you’ll find opportunities to carry more weight (literally and figuratively) and make impactful decisions with accompanying consequences. It’s all about confidence, communication, and independence. 

After you come home, many of the character, leadership and service traits you uncovered on your expedition stay with you, helping you navigate your daily life with more resilience and success.

outdoor leadership school for teens
Photo courtesy of Alice Burgess
wilderness program for teens
Photo courtesy of Colby Blue
rafting on outdoor leadership course
Photo courtesy of Alice Burgess
outdoor leadership program for teens
Photo courtesy of Ben Stainstreet
rafting expedition for teens
Photo courtesy of Alice Burgess
rafting course for teens
Photo courtesy of Alice Burgess
rafting program for teens
Photo courtesy of Alice Burgess
rafting trip for teens
Photo courtesy of Alice Burgess
summer program for teens
Photo courtesy of Audrey Rycewicz
teens rafting in oregon
Photo courtesy of Alice Burgess

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 III rapids. After lessons in basic river travel and safety, students will learn to read currents, anticipate obstacles and scout rapids. Students will also learn river hydrology, swimming in currents and paddle techniques. There may also be an opportunity for short day hikes.

outdoor adventure program for teens
Photo courtesy of Judith Robertson
mountaineering trip for teens
Photo courtesy of Alice Burgess
wilderness program for teens
Photo courtesy of David Moskowitz
mountaineering expedition for teens
Photo courtesy of Scott Shepherd
mountaineering camp for teens
Photo courtesy of Scott Shepherd

Mountaineering courses move through high mountain terrain and focus on preparation for a peak attempt that may require the use of ropes, technical equipment and possibly rock climbing or snow travel. Students will start by learning backpacking skills, map and compass navigation, campsite selection and progress to basic mountaineering skills. The Instructor-to-student ratio is never more than 1:5 during this section, allowing for personal coaching on the physical techniques of mountaineering, as well as tailoring the curriculum to the interests and aptitudes of individual course participants.

service learning on outdoor leadership course
Photo courtesy of Alice Burgess

Service to others and to our environment is a core value of Outward Bound and is integrated into each course. Groups follow Recreate Responsibly ethics as they engage in 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. Additionally, students may have the opportunity to work alongside select social service agencies like nursing homes, hospitals and organic farms. Students see the impact of their actions firsthand, and they may develop a desire to continue service in their home communities.

teens reflect on backpacking expedition
Photo courtesy of Luke O'Neill

In order for profound learning to take place, students spend time reflecting 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, using the wilderness skills learned during the first portions of the course. The amount of time students spend on Solo is based on course length, weather, student condition, age and Instructor preference. Solo campsites 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, reflecting, thinking and resting as they process lessons of the course to focus on their goals for the future. Instructors check on each participant at regular intervals, as safety is always a top priority.

Courses typically end with a Personal Challenge Event—an individual final physical push. This typically takes the form of an endurance run or triathlon-style challenge.

Outward Bound promotes character development, leadership and service in the most engaging classroom possible … the wilderness. In real time, students experience the effects of their decisions on themselves and the other members of their group as they work to complete difficult tasks necessary for wilderness travel. Instructors challenge students to try new things and step outside their comfort zones. They also provide feedback that students implement on course and when they return to their communities.

outdoor leadership school for teens
Photo courtesy of Ari Kosal

Deschutes River, Oregon

The Deschutes River is part of the national Wild & Scenic Rivers System, flowing north from the Oregon Cascades to the Columbia River and then on to the Pacific Ocean. Courses generally travel anywhere from fifty to one hundred miles along the Lower Deschutes. The rapids on the Deschutes are rated to class IV, mostly class II-III. The group camps each night along the banks of the river. These regions are the ancestral lands of the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs and the Tenino nations.

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. The Central Cascade Range is home to the Three Sisters, Broken Top, Mt. Washington, Three Fingered Jack, and Mt. Jefferson. Active glaciers, traces of avalanches, and the volcanoes themselves are the perfect setting for learning the more technical aspects of mountaineering and backpacking. Depending upon the peak, your summit attempt may necessitate glacier and roped-team travel. These regions are the ancestral lands of the Yoncalla, Molalla, Kalapuya, Tenino and Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs nations.

Course Stories

I have grown as a rafter, backpacker, trail-advocate, nature-enthusiast, team member, leader, friend and overall human being.

Through captaining a raft down Class III rapids and leading a summit of the 9,000 ft peak of Mt. Thielsen, I have grown as a rafter, backpacker, trail-advocate, nature-enthusiast, team member, leader, friend and overall human being.

— Sophie

OTHER COURSES YOU MAY LIKE

Getting Started


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.

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. 

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