Broaden your horizons with this 75-day expedition exploring Maine’s forest and river ecosystems and the tropical waters of the Florida Keys and Everglades National Park.
Follow the traditional routes of the Abenaki and Penobscot people as you canoe through some of Maine’s most remote lakes and rivers. Earn an advanced Wilderness First Aid certification. Backpack through stretches of the northern Appalachian mountain range. Explore the stunning blue and shallow waters of the Florida Keys on a thirty-foot sailboat. This course is ideal for team-oriented individuals seeking challenge and adventure in unique environments. Throughout this semester you will develop skills needed to travel safely through the wilderness and better understand and appreciate the natural world.
NOTE: For the health and safety of students and staff in the COVID-19 pandemic, students may be asked to use private modes of travel (non-commercial transportation) to and from course. 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. We are continually monitoring guidance from public health authorities, and we will update these protocols as the fall season approaches. Should you have questions, please call one of our Admissions Advisors at 866-467-7651.
This course is closed for the season. 2021 courses coming soon.
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 swiftwater 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.
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.
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Canoeing and White Water
In the foothills of Maine’s mountains are networks of remote lakes and rivers. Students learn to maneuver canoes using paddle strokes such as the sweep, draw, pry and J-stroke in the Androscoggin, Penobscot, Kennebec, or Allagash watershed(s) in Maine’s Northwoods. On the waterways of this five-million-acre forest, students portage (carry the canoes on their shoulders) to get from one waterway into another and line (guide the loaded canoe down the sides of unrunnable rapids). Expedition canoeing in Maine means paddling whitewater. During their canoe expedition students will learn how to scout, paddle and manage open canoes safely in Class II rapids. As they learn to work, communicate well and coordinate efforts paddling each day, students discover the power of truly working together.
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.
Backpacking is an ideal combination of team and individual elements. The mountains of Maine are jagged and densely wooded, and the trails are remote, narrow and often steep. Students travel on wilderness footpaths, navigating on and off trail throughout the journey. From atop mountain peaks, if the weather cooperates, the group’s hard work is rewarded with spectacular views. Living and traveling with just a backpack is a simple existence, in which small choices can make deceptively great differences. To live well in the wilderness, all crew members must share the chores that turn a camp into a home, including setting up tents and tarps, creating a kitchen area, taking turns fetching water and cooking satisfying meals.
Rock climbing sessions take place at the many granite crags and cliffs that make northern New England; a renowned climbing destination. Students learn how to properly use harnesses, helmets, ropes and belay devices. Participants will start with the basics of tying into the rope, safely belaying each other and practice efficient movement over rock using friction techniques, edging and crack climbing. As students build experience and skills they’ll develop more advanced climbing techniques and practice setting up top ropes and building anchors at the different climbing sites.
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 the crafts of maneuvering under sail, coastal navigation, rowing and living aboard a small open boat. At night, students sleep on deck under a tarp, taking turns at anchor watch under brilliant night skies.
On this course, students:
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
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.
Personal Challenge Event
This course ends with a Personal Challenge Event, an individual final physical push. This event might take the form of a timed swim or rowing event, or it may be a combination of the two. The Personal Challenge Event is a chance for students to finish their Outward Bound Experience with a true personal challenge where they own all of their decisions and efforts in contrast to the time they have spent operating within an expedition team.
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. Solo will take place over night, and may extend up to 72 hours long.
This semester focuses on developing a solid foundation of expedition skills and a greater understanding of and appreciation for the natural world. While immersed in a challenging wilderness expedition, each student will take on leadership roles. Outward Bound’s curriculum combines skills necessary to become proficient in wilderness travel, and interpersonal skills that will benefit students in any setting. Through a series of different activities, students practice applying general principles in different elements and environments, deepening their understanding of each skill and building greater levels of ability. In addition to being a memorable adventure, this semester promotes situational thinking, individual and group goal setting, evaluation of options and decision-making and flexibility and effectiveness in problem solving.
The mountains of western Maine and northern New Hampshire comprise the northern end of the Appalachian mountain range. Within this region, the White Mountain National Forest, the Appalachian Trail, the Carter-Mahoosuc Range, the Grafton Loop Trail and the Caribou-Speckled Mountain Wilderness all offer classic backpacking terrain. These spruce, fir and hardwood forests are home to hundreds of species of birds as well as moose, deer and black bear. Rushing waterfalls, clear twisting streams and spectacular views from rocky summits reward backpackers ready for adventure.
The upper reaches of the Androscoggin watershed are fed by the Aziscohos Lake, the Magalloway River, and the Rangeley Lakes. Indigenous Abenaki peoples used the Androscoggin as both a means of transportation between winter habitats inland, summer living on the coast and as a source of food. Later the Androscoggin River was used to move logs to mills downstate during the logging boom of the nineteenth century. These days the lakes and rivers are used primarily by canoeists, fishermen and other recreationalists. Some of the portage trails here, such as along the Rapid River, have been in use for centuries.
The Florida Keys, Florida Bay, and Everglades National Park
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.
Course start, Newry, Maine; Meet your group, pack for expedition
Canoe expedition in Maine’s Northwoods region, including whitewater and portaging
Advanced Wilderness First Aid at the Newry Mountain Center
Backpacking, rock climbing and Solo
Clean up, de-issue, gear repair
Fly to Miami, FL for transportation to our Big Pine Key, FL Basecamp
Big Pine Key orientation and boat/gear prep
Sailing expedition including snorkeling and exploring the Florida Keys, Florida Bay, and Everglades National Park
Boat and gear clean, semester closure, final challenge event
Closure, Final Challenge Event, graduation and course end
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.