“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
With all of the color and contrast the Rio Grande area has to offer, this Pathfinder expedition is an unforgettable wilderness learning experience. 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 and expand your cultural awareness while practicing the Outward Bound ethic of service. Prior to completion 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.
|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||$6,125||ENROLL|
|VRPF-962||11.6.19 - 12.5.19||30||18 - 25||$6,125||ENROLL|
|VRPF-061||1.17.20 - 2.15.20||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.
After first learning basic whitewater strokes in calm currents, students are ready to begin the expedition. Paddling together, the group travels down-river through sections of calm currents and swift-moving whitewater rapids. The waters of the Rio Grande offer beginning and more advanced paddlers a progressive challenge and a perfect place to learn and hone skills.
Instructors assist students in mastering skills of paddling, scouting and running rapids. Students learn all the skills they need to move efficiently down-river, 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.
At altitudes of 2,000-8,000 feet, backpack the vast Chisos Mountains and explore the Chihuahuan Desert, crossing mountainous terrain and traveling through water-polished canyons. The small group will hike both on and off trail, crossing mountain passes, exploring immense canyons and traversing a rugged desert where atmospheric clarity and wide-open spaces make distances deceiving and navigation challenging. While hiking, students will learn desert travel skills such as strategies for water management and environmental preservation and the finer points of balance and foot placement on rough terrain.
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 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 for the environment to the regular tasks of being part of an expeditionary team, 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. Service 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. Many times, the service project in Texas includes work with the state park.
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.
Big Bend Ranch State Park and Big Bend National Park, Texas
Along the US-Mexico border in southwestern Texas, a powerful river and a mountainous desert unite in Texas’ Big Bend National Park. The Texas course area is one of the most remote and geologically interesting in the nation. 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 and rock climbing paradise. In this region, delicate desert flowers exist alongside fossilized trees millions of years old. Mountain passes give way to steep-walled canyons and cliffs. The land itself is awe-inspiring, with canyons towering 300 to 1,200 feet over the river. It is one of the last true desert regions in North America. 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 within 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.