Combine your love for service and marine life as you explore the turquoise waters of the Caribbean.
This 15-day sea kayaking and scuba expedition in Costa Rica and Panama provides an incredible opportunity to work as part of a team, develop and hone your own skills on the water, and take part in a sea turtle conservation service project. Travel to the famous Caribbean archipelago of Bocas del Toro, Panama, to begin your scuba and sea kayaking adventure.
Your first lessons will set the foundation for dive techniques and then progress towards more advanced skills that will be used on colorful coral reef dives, shipwreck dives, and a magical bioluminescent night snorkel or scuba dive. After your scuba adventures, give back to the local community through development projects. Then, embark on an unforgettable sea kayaking expedition in the turquoise waters of the famed Bocas Del Torro archipelago on the Caribbean coast.
Finally, transfer to the natural wetlands of San San Pond Sak, where you will discover why local sea turtle populations are an endangered species. Get hands-on experience helping to release newly hatched turtles, excavating old nesting sites, and completing night patrols to monitor mama sea turtles laying their eggs in the sand.
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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.
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Arrival in Costa Rica
Orientation and technical tree climb at the OBCR mountain rainforest base to Tres Rios
Overland transport to a remote indigenous island village in Panama
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 and 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 into everyday life by pushing your own limits and working alongside your peers.
Demonstrate mastery: As you gain confidence in new skills, you’ll 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.
This expedition begins with sea kayaking in the remote archipelago of Bocas Del Toro, Panama, consisting of some 68 islands located near the Caribbean border with Costa Rica. The first section will take place on the island of Solarte, where the group spends up to two days planning and packing for the expedition as well as practicing paddling and rescues for kayak-based expedition travel. Your time in Bocas Del Toro will include a cultural immersion component as you interact with the people and communities of the unique archipelago.
Cross the Panama border to your island home in the archipelago of Bocas del Toro. Begin the basics of Scuba – learn about theory, the equipment, and the important skills needed to have fun diving. Boat out to multiple dive locations to see spectacular tropical coral reefs and colorful fish that surround these islands. Continue to build on your diving skills as you glide and explore new coral reefs, sunken catamarans and shipwrecks. If you are already certified, earn your advanced certification by completing special dives including a compass navigation dive, a night dive, and a deep water dive and others. Learn more about the amazing plants and animals that make this ecosystem their home and explore the unique beauty of this ecosystem at night through a bioluminescent night snorkel dive. Glide through the waters as thousands of magical bioluminescent lights illuminate your path.
Service projects are often incorporated into Outward Bound courses through coordination with local land managers, conservation groups, government, or social service agencies.
On this course, students will meet local conservationists In the community of San San Pond Sak and learn about the active conservation efforts for endangered leatherback and hawksbill sea turtle populations. Wake up to the sounds of the ocean and make your way to the sandy beaches to volunteer at one of the most important sites for nesting sea turtles in the world. Excavate old nesting sites in the sand, release newly hatched baby turtles, and complete night patrols to monitor the mama sea turtles laying their eggs along the beach.
While in the wilderness, students are also encouraged to practice service to the environment and their team by sharing responsibilities and following Recreate Responsibly ethics throughout the expedition.
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. With sufficient food and equipment, students will set up campsites of their own, using the wilderness skills learned during the first parts of course. The time students spend on Solo depends on the length of the course. Often located along beautiful shorelines or peaceful rivers, campsites are chosen to offer as much solitude as possible (yet be within emergency whistle-signaling distance of other group members). Most students spend their solo time journaling, drawing, or just thinking and resting as they process lessons of the course to focus on their goals for the future. Instructors check on each participant at least daily.
Students in high school are undergoing many changes. At the beginning of the high school experience, it’s an exciting time to seek freedom and learn how to shoulder new responsibilities as they get closer to becoming an adult. As teenagers enter the final years of high school, it’s more about transition—developing learning and life skills while preparing for what’s next—be it college, a career, or a gap year adventure. To get ready for increased independence, older teens must be impelled to step up and make choices that have real consequences for themselves and others, with the support and supervision of knowledgeable and compassionate adults. Outward Bound Instructors on high school courses specialize in coaching students to meet challenges and make good decisions, both independently and as a group.
Students need only to be physically fit and motivated to learn and work together. No previous wilderness experience is necessary—all travel and leadership skills are taught from the beginning, and each phase of the expedition builds on the previous one. The initiative, teamwork, and problem-solving skills that they take away from their course will help them reach any horizons they strive for.
This program is located primarily in Panama where the group will learn two technical skills, scuba diving and sea kayak expeditioning. The Bocas del Torro archipelago is located near the Caribbean border with Costa Rica. The islands are home to a rich, heterogeneous culture including the indigenous Guaymi-Ngobe people who are direct descendants of the original inhabitants of these islands and the afro-Caribbean Bastimentenos. The Guaymi communicate in both Spanish and their traditional language, of which there are only about 2,000 fluent speakers left in the world. Their dwellings are typically constructed on stilts over the water with grass-thatched roofs. Several small communities and outlying homesteads will host the group as the crew explores the region in expedition sea kayaks. The Guaymi-Ngobe community on the island of Solarte is the staging ground for the scuba element of the course. These regions are the ancestral lands of the Guaymi-Ngobe.
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.