No prior experience is necessary to participate on an Outward Bound expedition! Our talented instructing staff will start the course by going over the basic skills needed for backcountry travel. All we ask is students come prepared for and open to new experiences. We'll handle the rest!
How can I be physically prepared to attend course?
Students do not need to be in peak physical condition to complete course successfully. However, it's always a good idea to physically prepare for course ahead of time to increase comfort, especially at the start of your journey. Check out how to physically prepare for course through our Preparing for Course page.
How will I know what to bring?
Outward Bound will provide the activity-specific and camping equipment for course including tents, tarps, backpacks, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, and cookware, etc. You will receive a packing list of items to bring, consisting mainly of clothing*, footwear, personal items, and toiletries after applying. If you'd like to see a packing list for a specific expedition ahead of time, reach out to our National Admissions Office at 866-467-7651 or [email protected]. An Admissions Advisor will be happy to provide this information!
*Pro tip: Not everything on your pack list needs to be brand new! See what items you can thrift or find at a second hand gear store.
Where is the meeting location for my course?
The meeting location is typically the nearest airport to the course area. Whether driving or flying, students will meet there on Day 1 by a designated time and get transported as a crew to their course start location. Students will be dropped off at the same location at the end of the course. If you'd like to see travel requirements for a specific expedition, please reach out to our National Admissions Office at 866-467-7651 or [email protected]. An Admissions Advisor will be happy to provide this information!
Are Outward Bound courses safe?
Over the years, and throughout a wide variety of activities, Outward Bound has maintained an excellent safety record. As part of an ongoing effort to monitor and improve safety, Outward Bound programs are regularly reviewed and audited by both internal and external teams in order to proactively identify and assess potential hazards as well as areas of commendation. Outward Bound has been a leader in wilderness safety and risk management for over 50 years and is a co-sponsor of the annual Wilderness Risk Management Conference (WRMC). This national conference brings together outdoor industry leaders to learn and collaborate with each other to advance safety and risk management in the outdoor education and wilderness adventure community. Since 1962 over a million students have participated in Outward Bound programs in cities, mountains, deserts, rivers, and oceans.
Is prescription medication allowed on course?
Yes, most daily medications are allowed on course. Please provide information about these medications on the application as it will be officially reviewed during the Medical Screening process. If you have any questions about whether a specific medication would be allowed on an expedition, please reach out to our National Admissions Office at 866-467-7651 or [email protected]. On courses for students 12-18 years old, Instructors oversee medication use. Please bring your prescription medications in the original containers. Students who would suffer severe consequences if they were to miss a dose of medication due to damage or loss should bring back-up doses of that medication.
Are there bathrooms or showers on course? How do I stay clean?
There are no bathroom facilities or showers on course. Outward Bound expeditions are a true backcountry experience! Students will learn how to appropriately do their business while on course. Hygiene is important when living and working with others, so things like hand washing before meals, sanitizing dishes, and brushing teeth are always part of a student's daily routine. Students can choose to bring (biodegradable) soap or baby wipes to freshen up without showers. Students may have access to shower facilities at basecamp at the end of their course. Check out our blog post, 10 Tips to Stay Clean in the Outdoors!
Where are the students on courses from?
All over! Most students who attend Outward Bound courses in the United States are from the United States themselves. We also welcome international students to apply and get the chance to explore our country's breathtaking landscapes that most casual tourists never see.
How is menstruation handled while on course?
Increased physical activity during Outward Bound may cause a change in your menstrual cycle. Prepare your menstruation kit using a ziplock bag* even if you don't expect your cycle during course. Items to include:
Menstruation products such as tampons, pads, panty liners, and menstrual cups. Bring more than you would typically use. Absorption underwear is not recommended.
1 small travel pack of disposable wipes or bandana. Our instructors will teach appropriate backcountry techniques for basic cleanliness.
1 small travel-size bottle of hand sanitizer
1 to 2 extra pairs of underwear
*Pro tip: Pack two zip lock bags--one to use as the vessel for your menstruation kit and one for any used products or waste to go inside the first zip lock bag. We will pack out any waste we create while on course. You can cover the outside zip lock bag with duct tape for discretion. Your Instructors are experienced in addressing menstruation care questions or concerns while on course. Don’t hesitate to ask them questions.
Can you accommodate dietary allergies?
We've had many students with food allergies successfully complete Outward Bound expeditions. Whether we can accommodate specific allergies on course would officially be reviewed during the Medical Screening process. If you'd like to discuss this further, please reach out to the National Admissions Office at 866-467-7651 or [email protected].
Who are your instructors?
Outward Bound Instructors are experienced and qualified outdoor professionals committed to their students’ well being through their values, judgment, words and actions. They are certified as Wilderness First Responders, Wilderness Advanced First Aiders, or the equivalent, and meet all Outward Bound, local, state, and federal requirements for their positions. Outward Bound staff are trained to identify, assess, and approach risk as a learning tool, to be managed but not eliminated. Our goal is to provide our students with unique opportunities to gain insights and perspectives into your own –– and your crew’s –– capabilities. There is more in you than you know; we'll help you discover that!
Can I bring technology on course?
You are more than welcome to travel to and from your course with items such as cell phones, iPods, tablets and laptops. Once you arrive we will ask you to leave it all in your luggage, as you are not allowed to take it on your course. We ask students not to bring emergency response technology, as your Instructors will be bringing the appropriate technology for our course areas. Cameras are welcome on course as long as they are not part of a cellular phone. You might want to consider purchasing a waterproof bag or box for your camera, film, batteries and memory cards. A zip lock bag works well, too. We also suggest disposable waterproof cameras.
What is communication like for students on course? How will I get in touch if there is an emergency?
Due to the remote backcountry setting of our expeditions, communication is limited. Parents will be provided a number to call if they need to get a message to their child while they are on course. This number is to be used for emergency situations only. The number gives access to an Outward Bound staff member who is working out of the basecamp nearest to your child's course. They will contact our Instructors via their satellite phones and begin the process for removing a student from course if necessary.
Enrollment and Payment Information
Is there an easy way to find available expeditions?
Yes! Please visit our Expedition Finder to view upcoming expeditions. You can use the "Sort By" button at the top of the page on the right-hand side. Click the button to see the drop down menu and select "Show Only Available Courses".
How do I apply for a course?
You can submit an application for the course of your choice online or by calling one of our Admissions Advisors in the National Admissions Office at 866-467-7651. After you submit your initial application and the $500 deposit, your spot is saved on the roster while the Medical Screening process is conducted. Follow-up forms to complete this process will be emailed to you within 2-3 business days of receiving your application.
What is the Medical Screening process?
Our screening process—completed through medical paperwork and a pre-course conversation between the student and their Course Advisor—is to ensure we can accommodate that student’s needs, physically and mentally and that the student is motivated to attend. This process takes place once a student has applied for a specific course, as the course area and activities on the chosen course are factors as well.
At the time of submitting the application, a $500 deposit is required to save the student’s spot on course. This deposit includes a non-refundable application fee of $150. If a student is not cleared to participate for any reason, the remaining $350 is refunded.
Do participants need to be motivated or willing to go on course?
It is important for students to be motivated to attend their Outward Bound expedition and be active members of their crew. Motivation is a factor that will be reviewed during the Medical Screening process. We understand that students may be hesitant to leave their comfort zone and join a crew full of strangers for an expedition with no access to technology. If you'd like tips on how to approach talking about Outward Bound with your child, please contact the National Admissions Office at 866-467-7651 or [email protected]. An Admissions Advisor will be happy to help!
What is the waitlist policy?
Once a course roster 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 at a time and we encourage students to always choose an available spot over a waitlist. Please notify your Course Advisor as soon as possible if you are no longer interested in remaining on the waitlist
Why is there a $150 non-refundable application fee for all applications (including waitlists)?
The application fee pays for our Medical Screening process, which allows Outward Bound to gather all applicable information to understand how to best support and accommodate a student's needs on course. Waitlist applicants will also go through Medical Screening so they can easily join the roster if/when a spot becomes available. If you have questions about our Medical Screening process or deposit policy, please reach out to the National Admissions Office at 866-467-7651 or [email protected].
Is the application process competitive?
No, applications are accepted on a first-come first-served basis! Your spot is saved while the Medical Screening process takes place.
Do you offer scholarships? Can I apply for financial aid before I submit an application?
Each Regional Outward Bound School offers financial aid. Financial aid is awarded on a first-come first-served basis and is determined by need and motivation. Awards typically range between 10 - 30% of the course tuition. This is not a loan, so you do not have to pay it back. To apply for financial aid, submit an application to your expedition of choice. Please make sure to check the box that you are interested in applying for financial aid on the deposit acknowledgements section of the application. The Outward Bound School offering your course will send you a Financial Aid application, and will notify you of the award offer after they have received and reviewed your completed paperwork. Applicants are still responsible for the full $500 deposit when registering for an expedition. If the award amount offered is not enough to make the expedition a financially viable option, you can decline the offer from the Regional School. As long as you cancel within the allotted time designated in the award notification, your deposit will be fully refunded.
What does the tuition cost cover?
Course tuition is completely inclusive of all factors needed to offer a premier, expedition-based learning experience, including safety and risk mitigation, insurance, staffing, wilderness permits, technical gear, food and cookware, transportation to and from the designated airport, etc. Outward Bound is a personal investment in one's future just like college, job training, or other gap year experiences. If the current tuition cost is a barrier, consider applying for Financial Aid!
What is not included in my tuition?
Not included in this total cost are personal expenses such as clothing, insurance (health and travel), airfare and baggage fees. If you are attending a course that requires travel to an international destination, you will be responsible for the additional cost of those flights.
How do I receive academic credit for my Outward Bound course? Can I use 529 funds?
Academic credit is available for Outward Bound courses by transferring credit through our partner colleges or by arranging your own independent study. 529 funds can be used to cover course tuition if students have arranged to earn academic credit. You can find more information on our Earn Academic Credit page, or by calling our National Admissions Office at 866-467-7651 or [email protected].
Can I use an AmeriCorps award to pay for a course?
While we can sometimes accept applications up to two weeks before the course starts, our rosters typically fill a few months in advance. If you have narrowed down our expedition options and you've chosen which course to take, it's best to apply as early as possible. Allowing more time for the Medical Screening process and preparing for your course is always recommended.
What's the difference between Single Gender, Gender-Expansive, LGBTQ+, and Affinity Groups?
Our Affinity Courses are designed for students to build and celebrate community with peers who have similar identities, and to share the joy of being outdoors and learning new things together. You are welcome here – let’s adventure together! We are currently offering courses for Single Gender, Gender-Expansive, BIPOC, and LGBTQ+ identifying students. The Single Gender and Gender-Expansive filters can be used to find courses with a specific gender focus. For example, the Northwest Sea Kayaking for Women expedition provides an opportunity for both women and gender-expansive students to join a feminine-focused crew. Our LGBTQ+ courses are specifically for students who identify within the LGBTQ+ community.
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