This six-day canyon backpacking course is specifically designed for veterans who are ready to look inward, eager to work as a team and willing to gain new perspective in an amazing desert environment.
From towering red rock formations to rolling hills of high desert sage to untamed rivers and canyons, Utah is truly unique. With a rich history dating back centuries and preserved by the desert, the landscape is full of pictographs, pottery shards, and other evidence of those who came before. This backpacking course offers an opportunity to build camaraderie with fellow veterans, provides time and space for reflection, and helps reconnect veterans with their inner strength, confidence and compassion – all amidst some of the world’s most dramatic scenery.
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Outward Bound Veterans expeditions build on camaraderie and the challenge of the natural world as a pathway to healing. These expeditions encourage participants to connect with existing strengths and bond with fellow veterans in a safe, positive, mission-driven environment. As they harness the power of wartime experiences like carrying heavy packs, moving fatigued muscles and sleeping outside, these courses help build the self-confidence and sense of purpose veterans need to continue serving as leaders in their families, communities and the nation.
Build core skills: Veterans receive hands-on training on expedition and personal skills. As part of an inclusive, supportive crew, they gain communication skills, establish trust and validate experiences among other veterans.
Practice Outward Bound values: Instructors focus on Outward Bound core values like compassion, integrity, excellence, inclusion and diversity to help veterans reflect, share insights and live in the present moment.
Process and Reflect: Journaling, one-on-one and group discussions help veterans understand how Outward Bound experiences might translate to coping skills back home.
What participants learn: Veterans return home inspired, ready to tap into rediscovered strengths and eager to find new ways to contribute to society.
The course begins with lessons in basic travel and camping techniques. Along the way, participants learn Leave No Trace techniques, map and compass navigation, camp craft and also get a feel for the human and natural history of the area. The crew backpacks in the canyons and out across the mesas, camping on vast expanses of desert slickrock, and stopping along the way to explore amazing ruins and interesting geology. Best of all, participants get to spend time in an incredible area of the desert, sleep under the stars, feel the spring or fall sunshine on their face, and maybe watch a few sunsets over this simple but magical landscape.
The course takes place just north of the San Juan River on a large plateau called Cedar Mesa. The landscape is filled with sandstone that has eroded into an endless variety of mesas, towers, grottos, hoodoos, arches and canyons. The canyons abound with hidden wonders: clear springs seeping from the rock; delicate soils full of life; the amazing tapestries of the canyon walls; and a large concentration of ancient Native American cliff dwellings.