“A year and a half out of college I went into Voyageur Outward Bound's Pathfinder program feeling lost and anxious. I was excited for a break from the stressors of home and while I was optimistic about enjoying the experience, I vastly underestimated the life change I was about to experience. The Pathfinder curriculum is powerful because it offers practical life tools and then allows you to practice those skills in a wilderness setting where your survival depends on your ability to use those skills effectively alongside your fellow travelers. It is both the safest and the riskiest place to work on becoming your best self, because the consequences and the support are both very real.
Besides the excellent content of the course, Big Bend itself is a spectacular course area with an incredible amount of variation. I never expected to love the desert, but now I can't get it out of my head. I will never forget what I saw and the way it felt.
Pathfinder led me to further involvement with VOBS and put me on the path to becoming an instructor, but whether outdoor education is your interest or not Pathfinder courses offer powerful tools to re-imagine your life and redefine what you're capable of. I wanted to believe that everyone was capable of leadership, but I did not fully believe this about myself until this course.” – Yoshie - Pathfinder Texas Student
This extraordinary adventure is your chance to gain leadership skills, define your values, be of service and—most importantly—discover what you are capable of. Travel over frozen lakes and rivers; learn how to manage teams of sled dogs; cross-country ski; navigate with a map and compass; check ice conditions; cook over an open fire and stay comfortable in extreme winter temperatures. Enjoy the satisfaction and camaraderie that comes from being part of a small team with a dedicated purpose as you enjoy hearty meals under the brilliant night sky. At the end of the course, participate in a facilitated family conversation where your family can gain insight into your experience and discuss how your newfound knowledge will transfer back to your daily life. No prior winter travel knowledge or experience is necessary.
|VMPD-961||2.22.19 - 3.23.19||30||18 - 25||$6,125||ENROLL|
|VMPD-061||2.28.20 - 3.28.20||30||18 - 25||$6,125||ENROLL|
This course may be full or preparing to leave in the next week. Please call us at 866-467-7651 to discuss your options.
Sometimes you don’t know where you want to go in life until you spend a few weeks in the middle of nowhere. Pathfinder expeditions give you time and space to understand what’s important to you and the skills to get there. Over the next 30 days, you’ll rise to meet natural challenges, becoming accustomed to setting goals, making decisions, and recovering from set-backs, all of which help clarify bigger choices that await you in life beyond your course.
Return home after broadening your horizons, learning how to adapt to new environments and trying untested possibilities, with an action plan for the future. With newfound leadership potential, self-awareness, and problem-solving skills, you’ll be ready for your next big step.
Together with a team of expert Instructors and lovable sled dogs, students experience a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to connect with nature, working animals and each other in this thrilling, challenging and utterly stunning wilderness environment. Using map and compass, students learn to navigate a route over frozen lakes, rivers and the overland portage trails between them. Students develop skills in dog mushing, cross-country skiing, ice reading, winter camping and sled dog care. Group members take turns mushing the dogsleds and skiing or snowshoeing throughout the course. Everyone cares for the dogs on a daily basis. Take part in a beautiful winter choreography as skiers serve as advance “scouts”—navigating, checking for safe ice conditions and tracking out a trail while mushers work with the dogs to help guide the loaded dog sleds to follow. The group comes together to maneuver the dogsleds over obstacles and steep terrain and make and enjoy camp at the end of the day.
Students learn to rely on their own locomotion as they use skis to kick and glide across the frozen landscape. Adequate training will be given to teach the skiers to break trail, set the tracks for the dog sleds to follow and check the ice to allow for safe travel. The exhilaration that comes from the freedom of being able to efficiently move across a frozen lake or snow covered trail will make students understand why this is one of the oldest sport activities in the world. Skiers will occasionally help the mushers move the sleds over difficult terrain but otherwise travel separately from the dog sleds, carrying their own basic supplies for the day in backpacks or towing a small personal sled known as a “pulk”.
Students learn what it takes to construct a winter camp and live comfortably in the depths of a Minnesota winter. Instructors teach students techniques for harvesting water from beneath the ice, dressing properly for freezing temperatures, felling trees for firewood, cooking over an open fire and setting up shelters and cozy winter sleeping systems. A hearty dinner and enriching conversation with fellow group members around an outdoor fire or the wood stove in a large, canvas wall tent rounds out each day. Students often enjoy clear evening stargazing before drifting off into a well-deserved sleep. Students learn that not only can they survive, but truly thrive in an extreme and remote winter environment.
Service is a cornerstone of every Outward Bound experience. From the seemingly small daily acts of service to the environment to the regular tasks of being part of an expeditionary team, participants have ample opportunities to experience the value of giving back to the larger community. On the expedition, participants are encouraged to practice environmental stewardship in the form of Leave No Trace ethics - leaving campsites and trails in better condition than they found them. Participants also practice regular acts of service for their team including the hard-working sled dogs by preparing and serving meals, securing drinking water, breaking trail and giving the dogs plenty of affection.
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 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, students 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.
A 30-day Pathfinder course provides the opportunity to chart a path, the motivation to begin the journey and the skills required to achieve personal and professional goals. While adventuring in the backcountry and tackling physical, mental and emotional challenges, students will:
Depart with written goals for the future along with increased resiliency to handle what challenges may come as they pursue their newly defined direction
Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Minnesota
Established in 1964, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) is a labyrinth of lakes and rock 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 wilderness has changed little since its unveiling when the glaciers melted 10,000 years ago.
Over one million acres in size, the BWCAW extends 150 miles along the Minnesota/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 a truly amazing place to experience the wilderness. It 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. Paddling routes offer outstanding opportunities for solitude, remoteness, teamwork, adventure and challenge.
In the winter, the Boundary Waters transforms into an even more severe and remote wilderness. While more difficult, winter enthusiasts travel over frozen lakes and rivers by dogsled, cross-country ski and snowshoe. Winter in the Boundary Waters is mesmerizing, peaceful and exhilarating. It is a place of spectacular extremes, trackless snow, bracing cold air, glowing warm embers and powerful silence.
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.