Test leadership and adventure skills in two distinct wilderness environments: The remote and beautiful Florida Keys, and the pristine, challenging Rocky Mountains.
Two months, two radically different skill sets. This 65-day semester course is the learning experience of a lifetime. On this exciting and demanding course, you’ll explore the art and science of wilderness expeditioning and acquire the personal, group leadership and technical skills to travel safely in both sea and snow. Start with the most ancient and traditional of marine skills: sailing and navigation in the subtropical waters of the Florida Keys. Become a certified lifeguard through the American Red Cross. Then travel to Leadville, Colorado to Earn an Advanced Wilderness First Aid certification and travel through the pristine mountain environment of the Rocky Mountains by skis and snowshoes. Along the way you will encounter challenges that push you physically, emotionally and socially – these challenges offer you a chance to discover your strengths and potential, and to practice using techniques and tools that will help you better cope with situations in the future.
NOTE: For the health and safety of students and staff in the COVID-19 pandemic, students may be required to travel to course start by private transportation. Please work directly with your School for the most up-to-date and regionally-focused travel options. All students and staff must provide a current negative COVID-19 viral test result before arrival to course and/or consent to having a COVID-19 test administered at course start. Outward Bound requires students and staff to follow COVID-19 protocols for 14 days prior to course start and while traveling including physical distancing, wearing a mask in public, and frequent and thorough handwashing. For complete “Health and Safety Standards for Outward Bound Expeditions,” click here.
This course starts within the next week. Please call us at 866-467-7651 to assess the possibility of applying for this course!
Most College Savings Plans, including the 529 College Savings Plan, may be used to attend an Outward Bound expedition, thanks to a partnership with Western Colorado University. Anyone can register – you do not have to be a current Western Colorado University student. Registration is easy! Click here to learn more.
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.
Build skills, form connections: Amidst rugged natural landscapes, learn to lead and to follow; to give and receive feedback; and to trust in your own capabilities as you expand your technical and personal knowledge base. 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, exercise your independence as you gain life experience and learn how to let compassion in to everyday life by pushing your own limits and supporting your crew as you tackle obstacles together, big and small.
Demonstrate mastery: As you gain confidence in new skills and a better understanding of the natural world around you, take on more decision-making responsibilities. Work together to achieve team goals, solve problems and succeed both as independent individuals and as a group.
What you’ll learn: Examine your personal values and discover more about your true self. Hone your technical abilities as you become a master at ropes courses or swift water rescue techniques and Wilderness First Aid. Numerous certificates are available depending on the course, and up to 18 credit hours can be earned along the way.
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.
Traditional 30-foot sailboats encourage teamwork and leadership like no other classroom. On an open boat with no cabin and no engine, the group will live closely together using only wind and oars to power their way. As they rotate responsibilities during the expedition, students learn to sail a traditional sailing vessel. On this course, students learn to:
Adjust sails properly for sailing at different angles to the wind, and to execute sailing maneuvers like tacking and gybing, which turn the boat through the wind
Navigate using a chart and compass to arrive accurately at the day’s destination, using techniques that include taking bearings, dead reckoning, triangulation and sounding.
Move the boat under oars, coordinating all of the rowers' movements so that the oars splash as one, precisely maneuvering in and out of secluded anchorages
Take turns at anchor watch (under brilliant night skies), monitoring vessel safety and reflecting on their day’s learning.
Live (cook, eat, sleep, work and learn) as a team aboard a small open sailboat, contributing energy and ideas, sharing tasks and responsibilities and relying on each other.
This course will split the sailing expeditions into two main time-frames – with final 9-day expedition just before the transition to Colorado.
Red Cross Lifeguard Training
This section of the course will cover CPR, First Aid and lifeguard techniques – such as rescues, back-boarding and general safety procedures. The training is a mix of theory and practice. Students will be tested using Red Cross guidelines before receiving their certification.
Advanced Wilderness First Aid
The Advanced Wilderness First Aid (AWFA) course is a 4-day introduction to wilderness medicine that combines classroom time with hands-on practical sessions. Students will learn how to manage injuries/illnesses in the backcountry, setting them up for safe and self-reliant expeditions in the future.
Snowshoeing and Nordic Skiing
After your winter skills training, you and your team will embark on an epic journey: a multi-day tour through the snowy Rockies to summit a high peak. You’ll navigate through avalanche terrain, melt snow for water, and learn how to thrive in one of the harshest climates on Earth. One of the best parts of a winter expedition is carving a cozy camp out of the snow, complete with tables, benches, and even snow cabinets. You will carry all of your food and gear in your backpack or pull it behind you on snow sleds. During this section, you will learn to assess and adapt to varying snow and weather conditions. Depending on weather and snow conditions, you may have the opportunity to see stunning 360-degree views from a high peak.
Service projects are often incorporated into Outward Bound courses through coordination with local land managers, conservation groups, government agencies or social service agencies. While in the wilderness, students are encouraged to practice service to the environment and their team by sharing responsibilities and following Leave No Trace ethics throughout the expedition.
The Solo experience provides an important break from the rigors of the expedition to give students quiet time to reflect on the Outward Bound experience. With the basics of food and equipment, and with safety a top priority, students will take some time away from the group to be alone at sites of their own, using the wilderness skills learned during the first parts of the course. Often located along beautiful lake shorelines or peaceful rivers, Solo sites 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 learned and focus on their goals for the future. Instructors check on each participant at regular intervals. The time students spend on Solo depends on the length of the course. On courses longer than three weeks, Solo is up to 72 hours long.
This course focuses on developing the leadership and technical skills necessary to begin a career as an Instructor or expedition leader in wilderness environments, or to take on challenging and versatile roles in a variety of other fields. Outward Bound’s leadership curriculum is based on over 50 years of leading expeditions. Students will refine the way they meet challenges and opportunities, relate to others and view their world. Technical skill development is a robust and challenging component of this semester program. Whether students want to pursue a career as a guide or outdoor educator, or strive to become more proficient and safe when traveling alone or with friends and family, or aspire to develop the capacity to lead in an adventurous setting, this course will expand their skill base through the instruction of experienced specialists in these skill sets.
Home to numerous birds and abundant marine life, the region owes its productivity to the confluence of water flowing out of the Everglades into inner Florida Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. The backcountry of Florida Bay offers challenging shoal draft navigation and the opportunity to explore mangrove keys, tidal flats and coral patch reefs. These warm, shallow waters provide an exciting cruising area for Outward Bound’s sailing boats and some of the best training ground for developing advanced sailing skills. The Atlantic side offers excellent open water sailing and snorkeling at the outer reefs. The course area extends to the Everglades, with beautiful sand beaches and a maze of rivers and bays to explore. These regions are the ancestral lands of the Seminole, Matecumbe, Cuchiyaga and Guarungumbe nations.
Rocky Mountains, Colorado
The Rocky Mountains, one of the most famous mountain ranges in the world, stretch 3,000 miles from Alaska to New Mexico. These legendary peaks have had a profound influence on the development of the continental United States. The Colorado Rocky Mountains has the greatest concentration of high peaks in the lower 48 states, with hundreds of “Thirteeners” (13,000 plus foot tall mountains) and 54 “Fourteeners.” The state is famous for its abundant wilderness adventure possibilities, from skiing to rock climbing to mountaineering. Colorado courses may take place in The Gore, The Holy Cross, The Sawatch, The Elks, The Sangre de Cristos, the Rawah, or the San Juan mountains. Each of these Colorado ranges present unique challenges, but they are all beautiful, wild and rugged. These regions are within the ancestral lands of the Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱ (Ute), Cheyenne, Arapaho, Očeti Šakówiŋ (Sioux), Eastern Shoshone, Jicarilla Apache, and Pueblos nations
Course start, Big Pine Key, Florida. Meet your group, load boats for sailing expedition.
Backcountry sailing expedition in and around the Lower Florida Keys, including Solo and service projects
Lifeguard Training Certification at the Big Pine Key sailing base
Final Expedition: sailing, where group will apply navigation and teamwork skills
De-issue gear, prepare for next portion of course in CO
Drive from Florida to Leadville Mountain Base, Colorado, orientation to base
Advanced Wilderness First Aid training; exercise to acclimatize to the high mountain elevations.
Intro to snow travel, winter camping skills including shelters, meal planning, winter gear and layering, etc. Snowshoeing expedition, winter rescue skills, Solo.
Return to base, deissue gear, and prepare for final expedition
Nordic skiing final expedition, service project, backcountry ski touring/ snowshoeing expedition; an additional Solo may occur in this section.
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.