The 50-day Southwest Leadership Semester journeys through mountains, canyons, deserts and rivers by way of rafting, canyoneering, backpacking and kayaking, in one of the most geologically stunning landscapes in the world.
Develop outdoor skills. Enhance your leadership and communication abilities. Strive to increase your knowledge of the environment - all while you learn wilderness travel techniques in a variety of natural Utah environments. The ultimate goal of the semester is to develop the confidence, knowledge and integrity essential for effective leadership. Whether you are learning how to safely tie in on belay, deciding as a group how to navigate through new terrain, or setting up a minimum-impact campsite for the evening, you’ll be reinforcing, honing and practicing skills for life.
|CUGL-971||3.3.19 - 4.21.19||50||18 and up||$7,995||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.
Break away from traditional education and make the world your classroom on an Outward Bound Semester expedition. Experience life adventures and expand your skills as you interact with new environments and diverse cultures. Form lasting relationships with outdoor experts and crewmates who are sharing the same successes, failures and discoveries. Strengthen your commitment to community as you participate in service projects that support local needs.
Exploring new environments and building new connections will put your tenacity to the test. You’ll return with broader understanding of the natural world around you, deeper appreciation for small kindnesses and greater confidence in yourself and others that will serve you well long after you return.
Making up more than half of this 50-day course, each day on the river is spent learning to recognize and navigate various obstacles and hazards in the river and how to anticipate the forces of the current from far enough upstream. Participants will work to become a team, coordinating spacing and paddle strokes. They will have an opportunity to be the captain of their raft and practice new skills as they maneuver through adrenaline-filled rapids and flat-water sections.
In places, the canyon rims rise thousands of feet above the river, enclosing participants in a remote world of rushing water, delicate ecosystems and unbelievable beauty. Most courses get the opportunity to take day hikes away from the river and up to the canyon rim. These hikes provide stunning views, a change of pace and often the chance to see Native American ruins, petroglyphs, pictographs and strange but remarkable geological formations.
*Summer semesters only, subject to water levels
In addition to rafts, students also go downriver in sit-on-top kayaks. Sit-on-top kayaks combine stability with maneuverability. Students take their experience predicting whitewater and hydrology from the rafts and apply it to a smaller, yet more responsive watercraft. In a kayak students move, predict and react with every movement of the water and are met with exhilaration as they charge through crashing waves and negotiate the river’s obstacles. Students learn new skills specific to kayaking: eddy turns, bracing, surfing and self-rescue. Students travel close together and support one another through rapids and share stories of each rapid with ear-to-ear grins. With these boats, everything depends on the student: their effort, their planning and their decisions. This demand for self-reliance translates to increased confidence off the river as well.
Canyoneering is like running the most exciting adventure course imaginable. Each obstacle occurs naturally - made by the power of water coursing across the desert, making its way to the river. A combination of climbing, scrambling, rappelling, hiking and even swimming may be involved in getting through this unreal terrain. The adventure begins by hiking across the sunny desert mesa to drop into a canyon via rappel. As students travel further down, the canyon narrows, twists, turns and drops, creating eerie cave-like conditions. Sunlight bouncing off the walls from far above causes the sandstone walls to glow red and orange. Exiting the canyon back into the desert daylight feels like returning from another world. This rugged, rocky terrain requires teamwork and effective decision-making. To meet the demands of technical terrain, Instructors begin by teaching the foundational skills necessary for efficient travel, such as basic movement over rock. Over this section, students will experience technical canyoneering, slot canyons, day hikes and canyon backpacking.
Backpackers carry everything they need - food, shelter, clothing and gear – allowing them to go deep into the wilderness where few people go. Students feel a sense of freedom from deadlines and task lists as they grow accustomed to eating when hungry, setting up camp when tired and having complete control over what they accomplish each day. The simplicity of hiking gives students the opportunity to focus both internally on their own thoughts and self-reliance, as well as externally to connect deeply with others as they talk, sing, play games and spend time together without distraction.
This course will begin with lessons in basic travel and camping techniques. Along the way, students learn Leave No Trace techniques, map and compass navigation and camp craft as they get a feel for the human and natural history of the area. Students backpack along valleys and long ridges, camp in basins with views like the top of the world and stop along the way to explore microclimates and alpine ecosystems. Most importantly, students spend time in an incredible area, sleep under the stars, feel the sunshine on their face and maybe watch a few sunsets over this magical landscape.
Rock climbing is the ultimate opportunity to challenge oneself physically, mentally and emotionally. Contrary to common belief, upper body strength is not the determining factor in being able to climb well. Learning new body mechanics, balance and energy maintenance techniques will help students climb efficiently and unlock the incredible feeling of flowing up a route. There are many ways to climb the same rock, allowing each climber to solve the puzzle in their own individual way. Students will learn basic climbing techniques, helmet and harness use, climbing commands and belaying, placing gear, setting up top ropes and may have the opportunity to attempt multi-pitch ascents.
Service to others and the environment is a core value of Outward Bound and is integrated into each course. Participants follow Leave No Trace ethics as service to the environment and do acts of service while leading and supporting fellow participants. Designated service projects are coordinated with land managers like the US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and National Park Service to collaborate on land restoration projects. Some projects are more social services based, and participants may visit a nursing home or hospital to provide service there. Students develop a value of service, seeing the impact of their actions firsthand and transfer this desire to serve their communities back home. Past projects have included working on a goat farm, building trails, cleaning trash and debris from natural spaces, working with a local community garden, and removing invasive species.
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 or more, depending on the length of the course. Weather and time permitting, 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.
Whether you go on an 8-day course or an 80 day course, all Outward Bound expeditions are focused on building character and leadership skills. Short courses are a great option for students looking for an introduction to the outdoors or for those who need a quick recharge. On shorter courses, you’ll learn camping and expedition basics, as well as the skills specific to your course activity such as climbing or rafting. You’ll get to know your fellow crew mates surprisingly well as you share this immersive and intense experience.
On longer courses, your Instructors will progressively hand over more of the decision making and leadership of the expedition to you and your crewmates, allowing each person to test the new technical and interpersonal skills they have learned. On semesters, you will learn advanced technical skills and on some courses, earn certifications. Longer courses give your crew the opportunity to get past the “honeymoon” stage where individuals show more of their “real” selves. Through the dynamics of an evolving group setting, you will have more freedom to investigate who you are and how you want to develop personally, and to start that inner journey. Longer solos will give you more time to reflect on your course and your life direction. All along the way, you will experience a wide variety of some of the most beautiful wilderness in the US and the world.
Course areas may vary and will include some, but not all of the locations listed below:
La Sal Mountains, Utah
The La Sal Mountains rise dramatically out of the desert, towering 9,000 feet above the surrounding canyonlands and the sporting mecca of Moab. The La Sals are known for their groves of aspen, rich amount of wildlife, high summits and incredible views overlooking Canyonlands and Arches National Parks and the Four Corners area. Hidden lakes dot the landscape. Peaks in the La Sals range from 10,000 feet to just under 13,000 feet and include the highest peaks in Southern Utah.
The Uintas are Utah's highest mountain range with Kings Peak rising more than 13,000 feet above sea level. The Uintas are dotted with alpine lakes and have vast expanses of terrain above tree line within one of Utah's largest designated wilderness areas.
Canyon Country, Utah
The most spectacular aspects of the Utah landscape are the hidden treasures found within its vast canyon networks, formed by millennia of wind and water. The canyonlands of Southern Utah are still as stunning, mysterious and wild as they were for the Ancestral Puebloan and Fremont Native Americans who roamed these lands over 800 years ago, and whose ruins and rock art still abound in the canyons. The canyons are composed of a spell-binding labyrinth of alcoves, fins, pinnacles, buttes, towering walls, ledges and arches just waiting to be explored on Canyon Backpacking courses. Canyoneering courses also venture into narrower, deeper chasms two feet wide with walls several hundred feet on each side. These sandstone slot canyons are a geological playground for scrambling, teamwork and rappelling.
San Juan River, Utah
The San Juan River in southern Utah is a major tributary of the Colorado River, flowing 83 miles through the deeply incised sandstone slick rock country of the Colorado Plateau in many tight bends. The San Juan is world-renowned for archaeological sites of the Fremont and Anasazi featuring both petroglyphs and spacious cliff dwellings, accessible on side hikes from the river. The San Juan River is also well known for its exquisite natural scenery as you’ll soon find out once you are deep within the towering canyon walls.
Desolation/Gray/Labyrinth Canyon on the Green River, Utah
Surrounded by the Tavaputs Plateau and bordered by the Uinta and Ouray Reservation on the east, the journey on the Green River begins in Desolation Canyon near Sand Wash. Throughout the canyon, there are spectacular rock formations, ancient Native American ruins and abandoned ranches including McPherson Ranch, once frequented by Butch Cassidy's Wild Bunch. The tiered rock walls of Desolation give way to the earthy bluffs of Gray Canyon, creating a striking contrast that characterizes the next 25 miles of the journey.
On longer rafting courses you may continue your journey down the Green River through Labyrinth Canyon, where the river dives deep into the pink sandstone of the Navajo Formation which characterizes southeastern Utah and the Canyonlands area with narrow winding side canyons, orange Wingate cliffs, pinnacles and ledges.
Gates of Lodore on the Green River, Colorado and Utah
Whitewater on this northern section of the Green River begins the start of the course where the river enters the imposing Gates of Lodore. Red sandstone escarpments rise up 2,000 feet above the river as it carves a 45-mile course of placid flat-water and raging rapids through three dramatic canyons — Lodore, Whirlpool and Split Mountain. This section of river is enclosed within Dinosaur National Monument, and students will be privileged to witness the towering cliffs as well as rock art from the Fremont people, who called these canyons home over 1,000 years ago.
Cataract Canyon of the Colorado River
One of the most rugged and beautiful canyons in the West, Cataract Canyon cuts through the heart of Canyonlands National Park. Natural wonders and ancient ruins are found in the canyon on the way to the confluence of the Colorado and Green Rivers. The Colorado River roars through 31 exciting rapids that rate with those of the Grand Canyon in power and difficulty, including the famous Mile Long Rapids and “the Big Drops.”
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.