Take on the challenge of backpacking across one of the most remote and geologically interesting wilderness areas in the country and re-energize yourself in the process on this seven-day veteran’s course in Big Bend, Texas.
This backpacking expedition centers on the idea that living a balanced, satisfying, exciting life is not a matter of chance, but requires periodic examination and fine-tuning. More than just a scenic wilderness adventure, this is your chance to discuss life with other veterans and reflect on your strengths, passions and purpose in a natural environment that is both challenging and refreshing. Learn technical outdoor skills, enjoy the thrills of adventure and engage in stimulating conversations and lessons in teamwork, perseverance and personal development with a team of expert instructors. Gain the satisfaction that comes from meeting an expedition goal, the growth that comes from learning to work effectively with new peers and the support that comes from sharing in challenging yet nurturing wilderness experiences.
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.
This course is not currently accepting enrollments. Please check back frequently, as this is subject to
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.
Outward Bound Veterans expeditions focus on team camaraderie and the opportune challenges available in nature as tools to build connections and successes beyond military life. These expeditions encourage participants to explore their strengths and bond with fellow veterans in a safe, positive, goal-oriented environment that allows each veteran to apply their service skills in new ways. From carrying heavy packs, moving fatigued muscles and sleeping outside to exerting leadership, communication and decision-making skills, these courses help shape and support the self-confidence and sense of purpose many veterans need to continue serving as leaders in their families, communities and the nation.
Build skills, form connections: Veterans receive hands-on training in wilderness, adaptability and personal leadership skills. As part of an inclusive, supportive crew, they gain added strength in their communication abilities, establish trust and validate experiences with other veterans.
Value strengths and strengthen values: Beyond the structure and discipline of military service, Outward Bound focuses on resiliency, compassion, integrity, inclusion and diversity to help veterans reflect, share insights and experience each moment and triumph with new perspective.
Demonstrate mastery: Mastery is not just about conquering wilderness navigation skills. Reflection and self-awareness are equally vital to a veteran’s Outward Bound experience, equipping every Veteran student with new understanding and possibilities for coping they can use in their day-to-day lives.
What you’ll learn: Veterans return home energized, ready to tap into rediscovered strengths and eager to find new ways to contribute to family, work, community and the world.
Each veteran student returns home from their Outward Bound expedition having discovered more about themselves and what they want to achieve, how to overcome setbacks and, most importantly, how to move forward to reach important new milestones.
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. Students 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 participants a unique opportunity in backcountry 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 participant’s rock climbing and rappelling background, everyone is sure to find challenge and success.
All Outward Bound rock climbing and rappelling experiences are carefully supervised and employ safety systems aligned with national standards. During climbing days, participants learn about rock climbing equipment, safety and etiquette, belaying techniques and climbing rescue techniques. Encouraged and supported by their group, participants 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 many 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. Students also practice regular acts of service for their team by preparing and serving meals, securing drinking water, setting up camp and giving their crew plenty of support.
At one point during the expedition, students are provided a secluded spot to reflect alone, with all the food, skills and supplies they need, and are monitored by staff throughout the experience to maintain safety. We call this part of course, Solo. 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. 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 course.
Big Bend State and National Parks, Texas Along the U.S.-Mexico border in southwestern Texas, a powerful river and a mountainous desert unite in Texas’ Big Bend park system. The Texas course area is one of the most remote and geologically interesting in the country. 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, canoeing 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 right. 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. These regions are the ancestral lands of the Jumanos, Yoli (Concho), Pescado, Mescalero Apache and Chiso nations.