Sample Itinerary
The following is an example of what your course itinerary might look like. Your actual course plan will vary according to weather, student skills and abilities, and instructor preferences.
8-Day Courses
Course Start
Intro to backpacking, camp craft, and team building skills
Travel and peak attempt
Finals expedition, Personal Challenge Event
Course end and transportation home
15-Day Course
Course start
Backpacking, camp craft, and team building skills
Travel and peak attempt
Final expedition, service project, and Personal Challenge Event
Course end and transportation home
22-Day Course
Course Start
Backpacking, camp craft, and team building skills
Travel and peak attempt
Travel and advanced navigation skills
Final expedition
Personal Challenge Event and service project
Course end and transportation home

Learning things through the beauty and strength of nature has been a dream come true. I will always recall the late nights with the “mini-society” I called my own for 21 days. The connections formed on this trip through our combined efforts are strong ones I hope will stand the test of time.

— Francesca

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, 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 in to everyday life by pushing your own limits and working alongside your peers.
  • Demonstrate mastery: As you gain confidence in new skills, 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.

a group of teens wearing backpacks hike over a bridge over water amid a wooded area.
Photo courtesy of Jeremy Fox
A group of students sit around a map spread out on the ground. One person, who appears to be an instructor, points at the map.
Photo courtesy of Luke O'Neill
Two students wearing backpacks smile at the camera in front of a tree.
Photo courtesy of Luke O'Neill
two teens wearing backpacks kneel beside a rocky stream on a outward bound course
Photo courtesy of Caya Lottie
a group of outward bound students stand on an overlook while two play patty cake with their hands
Photo courtesy of Radha Vyas
A person standing on a stump spreads their arms out wide. Behind them is a green valley.
Photo courtesy of Luke O'Neill
A group of students wearing backpacks hike along a trail toward a rocky, mountainous landscape
Photo courtesy of Ari Kosal
A group of students wearing backpacks hike along a trail high above a mountainous valley containing snow.
Photo courtesy of Eli Mauksch
A group of teens wearing backpacks and using trekking poles hike over a wood plank
Photo courtesy of Jeremy Fox
a group of students stand in a mountain meadow with a mountainous landscape in the background
Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Dalley
a teen reads a map while sitting on a rock overlooking a mountainous landscape in the pacific northwest
Photo courtesy of Taylor Loyden
two students ascend over a rocky landscape with a mountain in the background
Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Dalley

Students work together to explore the high mountain landscape of the North Cascades where they will learn the essentials of backcountry travel necessary to carry them into remote meadows and high mountain vistas. Activities include: leadership and communication skill seminars, navigation with map and compass, Recreate Responsibly ethics, first aid and backcountry cooking.

During the expedition, students may have the opportunity to learn the basics of climbing technique, belaying, rappelling, and knots. Rock climbing is physically, mentally, and sometimes emotionally demanding. For many students, rock climbing is the high point of the course. For others, it’s a major mental challenge to face. Courses may include 1-2 days of rock climbing, depending upon individual course itineraries and student groups.

Depending on the group and the conditions, students can attempt to summit one of the many rugged alpine peaks in the course area. The peaks we attempt are often day-long ventures. They are challenging and beautiful, and often require scrambling skills, taught by experienced Instructors. On backpacking courses, crews do not climb peaks that require technical gear or ropes.

Since its inception, Outward Bound has both taught an ethic of service on courses and sent students into our local communities for service projects. Students may do impromptu trail service or campsite service in the Okanogan National Forest or Pasayten Wilderness. This might include breaking apart illegal fire rings or covering up social trails. Lastly and perhaps the most important of all, students learn that by offering compassion to each other and supporting the crew through their daily chores of putting up tarps and cooking and cleaning, service can be given freely and daily in small acts of kindness. Students see the impact of their actions firsthand, and develop an appreciation of service and desire to serve their communities back home.

a person smiles from under a shelter in a green area
Photo courtesy of Luke O'Neill
A person faces away from the camera, looking out over a small body of water and a landscape dotted with snow.
Photo courtesy of Katie Griffith
a person smiles while laying under a tarp shelter
Photo courtesy of Luke O'Neill

Solo is an opportunity for students to reflect on their experience, rest from the rigors of course, and think how their new insight and awareness can be transferred back home. Every Solo experience is unique and can range from a few hours to 72 hours, with age being a consideration for determining the appropriate length. Solo is not a survival test. Students have the necessary equipment, food, and water. Solo campsites are chosen to offer as much solitude as possible but are within emergency whistle-signaling distance from other group members. Safety is always a top priority, and instructors check on each participant at regular intervals.

Outward Bound believes that an appropriate amount of independence is a powerful educational tool. During the travel sections of this course, Outward Bound Instructors purposefully and gradually transfer certain leadership responsibilities to the students culminating with our “Final Expedition.” Near the end of course, if the group has demonstrated the necessary leadership, team problem solving and wilderness living skills, students may have the opportunity to travel without Instructors immediately present. Many of our students feel this phase of the course is the most rewarding, as the group learns to work as a team, problem solve, and accomplish a goal independently, while utilizing all the skills they have acquired.

Courses typically end with a Challenge Event—an individual physical push. This typically takes the form of an endurance run or triathlon-style challenge.

Outward Bound promotes character development, leadership and service in the most engaging classroom possible, the wilderness. In real time, students experience the effects of their decisions on themselves and the other members of their group as they work to complete difficult tasks necessary for wilderness travel. Instructors challenge students to try new things and step outside their comfort zones. They also provide feedback that students implement on course and when they return to their communities.

The North Cascades, Washington 

Known as the “American Alps,” the North Cascades offer glaciated mountains, alpine lakes and high alpine meadows for endless exploration. The North Cascades host the greatest concentration of glaciers outside of Alaska, and are full of high mountain meadows peppered with wildflowers. The Outward Bound course area hosts some of the most stunning alpine climbing and backpacking routes in the United States. Temperatures range from freezing to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Early-season courses (May and June) may spend time camping on snow, while mid-summer courses tend to have more moderate temperatures.

These regions are the ancestral lands of the Syilx tmixʷ (Okanagan), Yakama, Nłeʔkepmx Tmíxʷ (Nlaka'pamux), Methow, np̓əšqʷáw̓səxʷ (Wenatchi), Coast Salish, Skagit, Tulalip, Entiat, Chelan, Skykomish and Nuxwsa'7aq (Nooksack) nations.

Course Stories

A dream come true

Learning things through the beauty and strength of nature has been a dream come true. I will always recall the late nights with the “mini-society” I called my own for 21 days. The connections formed on this trip through our combined efforts are strong ones I hope will stand the test of time.

— Francesca


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Getting Started

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.