This course is designed to challenge students while canoeing along one of the most treasured waterways on the East Coast – the Potomac River.
Crews will load up their boats and travel to one of our designated put-in points, and paddle to different camp sites each day within a winding 120-mile section of the Potomac River in Western Maryland. You’re bound to see wildlife, experience the night sky like never before, and gain insights about the environment along the way.
This is a traditional Outward Bound course, specially designed for girls and gender-expansive students who are looking for this kind of community on their course. And when we say “for girls,” we mean we believe trans-girls are girls. You are welcome here – let’s adventure together!
At Outward Bound, we are crew, not passengers. We support each other and share in our challenges and our victories. Your crew becomes a critical piece of your experience while on course, and beyond! While all our courses are inclusive for all gender identities, we understand the value of affinity spaces, too. During this time of development, when young people need a safe and supportive space, this course builds self-esteem and community, and creates opportunities to make lifelong friends.
Students can expect a progression of activities to initiate personal growth and conversation about our unique and shared experiences. We will spend time having guided discussions on a variety of topics, as well as opportunities for individual reflection, while embracing the affirming and healing powers of nature.
Outward Bound’s affinity courses are designed to build community and cultivate self-efficacy. Expeditions are led by trained Instructors and aim to create a safe space for those who have experienced being marginalized due to their identity, and/or are exploring their gender identity. Outward Bound is a place for all people to learn, grow, make friends, and have fun! We encourage you to talk with one of our course advisors if you have questions about which course is the best fit for you.
NOTE: Outward Bound strongly recommends that all students be vaccinated against COVID-19 and up to date as defined by the CDC prior to arriving to their course start. For all open enrollment courses beginning on or after April 15, 2023, Outward Bound will no longer require students to be vaccinated against COVID-19. For questions regarding this policy please see this page or call us at 866-467-7651.
Affinity Groups, Gender-expansive, Middle School, Single Gender
APPLY NOW This means a course has several open spots and is actively processing applications.
APPLY NOW – Almost Full This means there are three or fewer currently available spots left on a course. To secure your spot click Apply Now to begin an application!
JOIN WAITLIST Once a course has reached capacity, three waitlist positions become available. To join a course’s waitlist, click “Join Waitlist” to begin the application process. A $500 deposit is required. This $500 deposit includes a $150 non-refundable application fee and a $350 tuition payment. The $350 tuition payment is refundable only if you cancel your waitlist application or if an open position does not become available. If a position does become available, the applicant will be applied to the open position and the Application and Cancellation Policies of the Regional Outward Bound School will be followed, including forfeiture of the $500 deposit if you cancel 90 days or less prior to the course start date.
Waitlist applicants are encouraged to complete all required admissions documents while awaiting an open position. Positions may become available up to two weeks prior to the course start date. Applicants may only apply to one course. We recommend applying to a course with open positions instead of a course that is accepting waitlist applications. If you have questions, please call 866-467-7651 to speak with one of our Admissions Advisors.
CALL TO APPLY This means a course is very close to its start date. Although it is unlikely to secure a spot this late, you can call the National Admissions office at 866-467-7651 to discuss your options.
COURSE IS FULL When a course has reached maximum capacity, meaning all spots and the three waitlist spots are occupied, a course will read “Course Is Full.” This means applications are no longer being accepted.
CLOSED As a course nears its start date, the availability status may read “Closed.” In this event, a course roster has been finalized and applications are no longer being accepted or processed.
Course start, introductory lessons in canoeing and river dynamics, begin paddling
Canoeing, lessons in advanced paddling techniques and Potomac River ecology
Canoeing final challenge, solo
Return to base, clean and de-issue gear, service project
Personal challenge event, graduation, depart for the airport
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.
Students must work as a crew to navigate the river, while transporting all their gear from one campsite to the next each day. Instructors will provide instruction on paddling technique, reading the river, and other technical canoe skills as they progress through this section of the course.
Service to others and to the environment are core values of Outward Bound and they are integrated into each course. Participants follow Recreate Responsibly ethics as part of their service to the environment. Students develop an ingrained appreciation of service, seeing the impact of their actions firsthand, by multiple small acts of service with and for their crewmates while leading and supporting each other throughout the journey.
In order for profound learning to take place, there must be time to reflect on the experience. Solo is that opportunity, and that time can range anywhere from 30 minutes to 24 hours. It is a chance to experience solitude in the wilderness without distraction while also taking a break from the physical rigors of activities. Students experience short periods of time away from their group throughout the course for reflection. These “mini-solos” are at solo sites chosen by Instructors to provide as much solitude as possible (within emergency whistle-signaling distance of other group members). Participants have all necessary equipment, food and water during their Solo time, and safety is always the top priority.
Helping students and their families see positive development in character skills is a key component of Outward Bound courses. After completing the course, students will receive a written narrative from their instructor that highlights how the student engaged in the course, what strengths were observed, and any recommendations for further development.
The Potomac River is located along the mid-Atlantic Ocean coast of the United States and flows into the Chesapeake Bay. The river (main stem and North Branch) is approximately 405 miles (652 km) long, with a drainage area of about 14,700 square miles (38,000 km²). In terms of area, this makes the Potomac River the fourth largest river along the Atlantic coast of the United States and the 21st largest in the country. Over 5 million people live within the Potomac watershed. These regions are the ancestral lands of the Massawomeck nation.
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.