“When times are hard you can look back at what you’ve done and just laugh, and know that you have been through so much worse. It gives you the courage and confidence to get through. Discomfort is temporary. I think that will be a big part of what the rest of the guys will take forward as well. We were able to do something so extraordinary and be okay, and that will stick with us.” – Britton O., Texas Big Bend and Boundary Waters Leadership Semester
“My semester course shifted my perspective on life, taught me resilience and gave me life skills. I have no doubt in my mind that I would have had a far different Peace Corps experience and perhaps even quit, if I had not taken my Outward Bound course shortly before heading to Nepal. While I expected only technical and wilderness skills from my Outward Bound course, I gained life skills that I use to this day. Through Outward Bound I learned how to set daily goals, how to manage a day that didn’t turn out like I expected and to work with other team members that I didn’t have a common background with. Those same skills in Nepal helped me to laugh on the hard days in a culture I didn’t always understand, reset my goals and priorities and to live, play and work in a remote village for two years.” – Suellen Sack, Director of OE Programs & Safety, Voyageur Outward Bound School
“I have a renewed sense of perspective. I am more optimistic, connected and more empathetic towards people. I now understand the process I need to go through in order to achieve something, whether it is a small goal or a big goal. I’ve always seen the big goal and haven’t had the ability to break it apart and take it step by step. It’s less overwhelming now. I have the tools to do something successfully and efficiently. I’m trying to take things one small step at a time – it is the best way for me to be successful." – James S. , TX-MN Semester
“The coolest dynamic is being in solitude and truly having no distractions. In those solo moments I have never thought more clearly in my life. It is so important to create that time. It is hard to step out of your life for 3 months – but what is important is to step out for an hour or a day and be totally alone. Keep all the electronics at home. I think being alone with zero distractions clears your mind to have some really life changing thoughts.” – Britton O., TX-MN Semester
Travel and study through two spectacular and dramatically different regions of the country while you acquire an extensive range of outdoor skills and a broad understanding of each area’s environmental and ecological challenges along the way. In the great American Southwest, backpack through the Chisos Mountains and navigate thrilling whitewater rapids in the canyons of Big Bend. Then, make your way up north to backpack along the Superior Hiking Trail and canoe in the Boundary Waters. In addition to the extended canoeing and backpacking expeditions, this semester course includes rock climbing, rappelling, and canyon exploration.
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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.
Outward Bound is accredited with the American Gap Association and is the longest running program in this elite group dedicated to providing safe, meaningful and high-caliber educational experiences to students.
Students explore the Chihuahuan Desert, crossing mountainous terrain and traveling through water-polished canyons. At altitudes of 2,000-8,000 feet, the vast Chisos Mountains offer varied and exciting backpack terrain. 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.
After first learning basic whitewater strokes in calm areas, students begin the expedition. Paddling as a group, students spend two weeks traveling downriver through sections of calm currents and whitewater. 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 skills of paddling, scouting and running rapids. Students learn all the skills they need to move efficiently downriver. 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.
The Superior Hiking Trail follows the northern shore of the lake from Duluth, Minnesota to Canada, covering almost 300 miles along the low-lying Sawtooth Mountain range. Students spend four to six days hiking on the trail. Well-marked trails, designated campsites and challenging terrain make the Superior Hiking Trail a great introductory backpacking experience.
During three climbing days, students learn about general rock climbing equipment, safety and etiquette. Students have many opportunities to climb, belay and rappel while learning and employing safety systems that are compliant with national standards. The rock climbing sites provide a number of different route options including cracks, sheer faces and chimneys. Regardless of a student’s rock climbing background, they are sure to find a route that will engage them and encourage the expansion of their comfort zone.
Looking out over the top of the boreal forest, the high ropes course is an incredible obstacle course set 30 feet in the air. Students swing from Tarzan ropes, walk on tightrope wires and climb a cargo net before jumping on the zip line for an exhilarating ride back to solid ground.
Students complete an extended canoe expedition. This expedition includes learning the art of paddling a canoe in a variety of conditions, as well as map and compass reading, route finding and Leave No Trace wilderness living principles. Groups navigate a variety of waterways such as lakes, rivers and swamps, working as a team to carry packs and canoes over portage trails when transitioning from one lake to another or to get safely around challenging rapids. Traveling by canoe allows groups to go far past where motorboats operate. Once there, it is possible to quietly observe bald eagles, moose and peaceful sunsets on mirror-calm lakes.
An intensive three-day Wilderness First Aid certification course teaches students the essentials of wilderness medicine and managing backcountry emergencies, providing them with skills to be safe and self-reliant.
Service is an integral part of the Outward Bound curriculum. Students are encouraged to practice service to the environment in the form of leaving campsites cleaner than they found them and practicing Leave No Trace ethics throughout the expedition. Woven into the curriculum fabric are lessons emphasizing compassion and service. Students gain an appreciation and desire to help and understand others without the expectation of personal gain. Additionally, students have a structured opportunity to put giving back into action through two days of community service that is an integral part of their course. Service in Texas is designed to offer as much interaction with local people as possible, as a way of exchanging cultural awareness. The specific type of service project depends upon the structure of the course and local needs and opportunities. Service projects could include helping paint and clean in a border town or working in 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.
Courses are offered in a variety of locations and for different lengths to provide a range of options, from which participants can choose the optimal experience for them. Longer courses allow for a full immersion into the Outward Bound experience, more time to practice wilderness travel and the opportunity to experience both success and failure to promote personal growth. The semester course in particular offers the opportunity to completely experience Outward Bound and achieve success in multiple course areas and activities. Students can expect to get comfortable living and working together in the wilderness while creating a solid foundation of skillsets they can continue to build on after course. This independence easily transfers back to home, school and work with an increased confidence, direction and sense of responsibility and purpose.
Big Bend Texas
On the border of Mexico, a powerful river and a mountainous desert unite in Texas’s Big Bend National Park. The vast Chihuahuan desert is an exotic place of spectacular multi-colored canyons and mountains — one of the last true desert regions in North America. The Rio Grande flows through its heart, forming the boundary between the United States and Mexico. The land itself is awe-inspiring, with canyons towering 300 to 1,200 feet over the river. Big Bend is the eighth largest national park in the lower 48 states, encompassing more than 800,000 acres of majestic mesas, canyons, cacti and weather-beaten desert.
Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Minnesota
Established in 1964, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) is a labyrinth of lakes and rock that has been specifically protected as a true American wilderness. No roads, power lines or motorized craft may enter its borders. Therefore, the Boundary Waters wilderness has changed little since its unveiling when the glaciers melted 10,000 years ago.
Over 1 million acres in size, the BWCAW extends 150 miles along the Canadian border. With over 1,200 miles of canoe routes, nearly 2,200 designated campsites and more than 1,000 lakes and streams, the BWCAW is a truly amazing place to experience the wilderness. The BWCAW contains portage-linked lakes and streams, interspersed with islands, forests and crags. It has no piped water, prepared shelters or signs to point the way. Within these borders students can canoe, portage and camp in the spirit of the French-Canadian Voyageurs of 200 years ago. The Boundary Waters paddling routes offer outstanding opportunities for solitude, remoteness, teamwork, adventure and challenge.
In the winter, the BWCAW transforms into an even more severe and remote wilderness. While more difficult, winter enthusiasts travel over frozen lakes and rivers by dogsled, cross-country ski and snowshoe. Winter in the Boundary Waters is mesmerizing, peaceful and exhilarating. It is a place of spectacular extremes, trackless snow, bracing cold air, glowing warm embers and powerful silence.
Superior Hiking Trail, Minnesota
The Superior Hiking Trail is a 296-mile footpath that largely follows the rocky ridgeline above Lake Superior on Minnesota's North Shore from Duluth to the Canadian border. Well-marked trails, campsites and challenging terrain make this a perfect thru-hike destination.
National Geographic says the Superior Hiking Trail “Is the best long hike in the country between the Continental Divide and the Appalachian Trail.” At its lowest elevation, along the lakeshore, the trail is 602 feet above sea level. At its highest point the trail is 1,750 feet above sea level and more than 1,000 feet above Lake Superior. The Superior Hiking Trail is characterized by ascents to rock outcroppings and cliffs and descents into numerous river and creek valleys that feature abundant wildlife viewing opportunities.
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.