“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
On this 30-day canoeing and backpacking expedition, you’ll discover your strengths and develop skills that will shape your future as you travel, learn, and grow in the American Southwest. Deliberately focused on character development, personal leadership, self-awareness and accountability, Outward Bound Pathfinder expeditions are designed to cultivate confident and compassionate young adults. While you’ll certainly acquire an extensive range of practical outdoor and life skills, even more important is the confidence, independence and sense of pride that comes from mastering those skills. Foster a connection to the greater community as you interact with local people, expanding cultural awareness while practicing the Outward Bound ethic of service. Prior to completion of the course, participate in a facilitated family conversation where the entire family can gain insight into your experience and discuss how your newfound knowledge will transfer back to your daily lives. With all of the color and contrast the Rio Grande area has to offer, this Pathfinder expedition is an unforgettable wilderness learning experience.
|VRPF-862||11.7.18 - 12.6.18||30||18 - 25||$5,895||ENROLL|
|VRPF-961||1.16.19 - 2.14.19||30||18 - 25||$5,895||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.
After learning basic whitewater paddling techniques, students will be able to paddle as a group, heading down-river through sections of calm current and swift-moving whitewater rapids. The waters of the Rio Grande offer beginning paddlers a progressive challenge and a perfect place to learn and hone skills. Instructors assist students in mastering the skills of paddling, scouting and running rapids. Students learn all the skills they need to move safely and efficiently downriver including an introduction to whitewater rescue techniques. As there are only two students in a whitewater canoe, everyone has the opportunity to "captain their watercraft". Students learn to adapt to the river and desert environments and reset their internal clock to rise with the sun and sleep with the moon.
On the Texas-Mexico border, students explore the Chihuahuan Desert, crossing rugged mountain ranges and traveling through water-polished canyons. At elevations ranging from 2,500 feet to 7,500 feet, students learn to backpack and camp in both desert and mountainous terrain. Expert Instructors help students learn techniques for safe desert travel and environmental preservation, teaching strategies for finding and managing the most vital resource to desert life - water. Travelling between these seldom-visited water sources, or “tinajas”, into remote corners of Big Bend State and National Parks, students experience desert life in a way that few others attempt. Venturing into the massive canyons and crossing vast and beautiful desert mesas, students reap the rewards of this remote adventure when the brilliant starlit sky illuminates the darkness of the desert night.
On the scenic cliffs of the Rio Grande overlooking the mountains of Mexico is Black Rocks – a beautiful climbing site in Big Bend Ranch State Park. Known mostly to locals, this seldom-visited spot gives students a unique opportunity for back-country rock climbing. These 30 to 80 foot cliffs offer a variety of beginner and intermediate climbs that provide an ideal introduction to rock climbing. Regardless of a student’s rock climbing and rappelling background, everyone is sure to find challenge and success as they spend a day at Black Rocks.
All Outward Bound rock climbing and rappelling experiences are carefully supervised and employ safety systems aligned with national standards. During climbing days, students learn about rock climbing equipment, safety and etiquette, belaying techniques and climbing rescue techniques. Encouraged and supported by their group, students push their perceived limits and expand their comfort zones in a safe, fun and non-competitive environment.
Service is a cornerstone of every Outward Bound experience. From the seemingly small, daily acts of service to the environment and the expedition team to the post-expedition service-learning projects, students have ample opportunities to experience the value of giving back to the larger community. On the expedition, students 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. Students also practice regular acts of service for their team including preparing and serving meals, helping others put on or take off packs, or setting up shelters for the entire team. After the expedition, students participate in two days of organized service to the community. These projects are designed to offer as much interaction with local communities as possible, as a way of exchanging cultural awareness and fostering a sense of connection to the larger world. The specific type of service project depends upon the structure of the course as well as local needs and opportunities. Service projects could include helping paint and clean in a border town or working to improve a local wilderness area.
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 external 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, participants 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.
Big Bend State and National Park, Texas
The Texas course area is one of the most remote and geologically interesting in the Outward Bound system. Along the US-Mexico border in southwestern Texas, the Rio Grande River carves a huge, sweeping bend where Big Bend National Park earns its name. This 750,000-square mile wilderness is the eighth largest national park in the lower 48 states and a desert backpacking, canoeing and rock climbing paradise. . Paddling the Rio Grande takes you to the depths of 1,500 foot canyons where the sunlight may reach the bottom only briefly in winter months. In this region, delicate desert flowers exist alongside fossilized trees millions of years old, amongst mountain passes that give way to steep-walled canyons and cliffs. Much of this rugged land has remained unchanged for centuries. Hundreds of species of birds and a healthy diversity of other animal and plant communities thrive amid the splendid isolation of ancient limestone canyons, juniper and mesquite-covered mesas and coal-black night skies.
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.