Frequently Asked Questions


Helping individuals and teams discover their strength of character, ability to lead and desire to serve.

We know you have plenty of questions. Here are answers to some of a few. If you can't find the answer you need please give us a call (888) 756-2627 or email us info@ncobs.org, we would be happy to help.

Frequently Asked Questions

How challenging will it be?

North Carolina Outward Bound courses are both mentally and physically rigorous. Different aspects of courses challenge each student in different ways. Our courses are designed for people of average fitness; however, how well you prepare for course can greatly impact your success and enjoyment of the experience.

It is important that you: be prepared to keep an open mind; be ready to embrace new experiences; and to follow the guidelines you receive upon enrollment. Our Student Services Representatives will be there along the road to prepare you and to answer any questions you may have, all you have to do is call or e-mail us.

What experience do I need?

No experience is necessary. You do not have to be an athlete or an outdoor enthusiast to succeed at North Carolina Outward Bound. In fact, we have many students who have never camped before. It is important that you phsyically prepare for your course.

Our Admissions Advisor can answer questions you have about what to expect. The best way to prepare yourself for course is to get active and commit yourself to giving your best effort. Once on course, instructors will introduce you to outdoor skills and address any concerns you have.


Do I have to want to go?

Yes, students must be willing and motivated to attend Outward Bound. This is not a boot camp. We do not force participants to go on course. In order to make sure all students have an enjoyable time while on course we ask that everyone fully participate in all course activities and follow the rules and regulations of Outward Bound. Students will be asked about their motivation level during the enrollment and interview processes.

Do you offer scholarships or academic credit?

Nearly half of the students attending a North Carolina Outward Bound School course receive a scholarship of some kind. Scholarships are awarded to those with financial need on a first-come, first-serve basis and as resources allow. > Learn how to apply.

Your school may offer credit for your course, but you must arrange this with your school before your course begins. 

The Independent Study Guide is a great resource for setting up an Outward Bound independent study. Check with your advisor to see if your school will grant direct credit for your participation. If it doesn't, college students can obtain transfer credits from Western State College or Warren Wilson College. If it is required, we can provide a post-course verification to your school. > Find out more about receiving academic credit.


North Carolina Outward Bound School celebrates compassion, inclusion, and diversity and has a long storied history of doing so.

Beginning in 1920, Outward Bound’s founder, Kurt Hahn, served as headmaster of Germany’s famed Salem School. By 1933, Adolf Hitler ascended to power, sowing the seeds of hatred and discord throughout Germany. When Nazi stormtroopers violently executed a young communist dissenter while his mother bore witness, Kurt Hahn, a jew himself, publicly challenged Hitler’s discriminatory policies by imploring Salem School’s community members to denounce Nazism. Kurt Hahn’s brave stance against discrimination resulted in his expulsion to the United Kingdom, where he continued his work as an influential educator. Hahn’s first-hand experience with war and discrimination crystallized Outward Bound’s primary objective: developing Compassion, above all.  

 > Find out more or to read our Diversity and Non-Discrimination Statement

Who will my instructors be?

As the leader in experiential and outdoor education, our instructors are accomplished outdoor educators with extensive experience and training in technical and facilitation skills. Whether it's leading an ascent or facilitating a group discussion, our instructors form the backbone and the heart of every course. They are generally in their late 20's and are adventurous and compassionate people who have a full resume of teaching, counseling, outdoor and group leadership experiences.

Many of our instructors are also Outward Bound Alumni and have participated in our rigorous 50-day Outdoor Leadership Course. They are also all Wilderness First Responder (WFR) and CPR certified. They may also have further certifications and training in select fields and are hired having professional experience in one of the following, teaching, counseling or group leadership. All our instructors participate in annual trainings that offer professional development and enhance our participants' experience on course. > Learn about our educators.

Will I be safe on course?

Since 1967, North Carolina Outward Bound has served tens of thousands of students on wilderness expeditions. Safety is of the utmost importance to us. We are proud of our safety record over that time and frequently review and refine our policies to maintain that record. It is important to recognize that there are real risks associated with participating in outdoor activities. Learning to manage those risks is part of every course, and each student is expected to play a role in their own safety by adhering to the rules, policies and procedures set up by instructors and staff members while at Outward Bound.

Our risk management efforts include: internal and external reviews of courses and course areas, instructors who are certified as Wilderness First Responders (an outdoor education industry standard level of training), annual instructor assessments, training requirements and the development of comprehensive program plans.

Even with these measures, risk of serious injury, property damage and death cannot be eliminated. While we cannot completely eliminate these risks, our focus on risk management allows participants to face challenges, to travel into remote areas and to meet success.

Can I come with a friend, family member or spouse?

Outward Bound is about stepping outside of your comfort zone. Being with people you don't know is part of the Outward Bound experience. There are many great benefits to sharing your experience with a diverse group of people that you don't know. You may start out as strangers but after working, playing and living together in the wilderness, you most likely will leave course with deep friendships.

In a small group setting, friends or spouses may become too competitive or, on the other hand, too dependent on each other. For that reason, we encourage students to enroll on their own course and will direct friends/family members/spouses attending the same dates into different groups whenever possible (except Parent/Child programs). You and your friend may enroll in the same course, but you will be placed in separate crews, which allows you to enjoy the experience independently. If you feel we should make an exception in your case, contact us to see what your options are.

I thought Outward Bound was for troubled kids. Does Outward Bound have programs for at-risk youth?

NCOBS serves many different kinds of students from high achieving youth to those at-risk, to veterans, teachers and even professionals.  

We have two powerful programs for at-risk youth. To learn more about each of them and who they serve please read below. 


Both programs serve teens and young adults exhibiting risk factors such as, poor school performance, anger management issues, defiance, low motivation, problems in their family life, poor decision-making skills, or risky behaviors such as experimenting with drugs or alcohol. These programs are not for those who have a history of violent behavior, recent suicide attempts, serious eating disorders, chemical dependencies.  


FINS (Families in Need of Services)

  • Location: Scottsmoor and Key Largo, Florida Wilderness Portion: 20 days
  • Family Follow up: 20-day transition focused on goal-setting
  • Wilderness Activity: Canoeing
  • Population Served: At-risk youth ages 12-17 in one of the following Florida counties: Brevard, Broward, Duval, Flagler, Lake, Monroe, Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, Polk, Osceola, Orange, Seminole, St. Johns, and Volusia
  • Funding: Fully funded by Florida’s Department of Juvenile Justice and other donors


  • Location: Western North Carolina Mountains, Florida Everglades
  • Wilderness Portion: 20-28 days
  • Family Follow up: Struggling youth and teen courses require a 2-3 day parent/student seminar after course. Struggling adults will complete a family debrief call after course. 
  • Population Served: At-risk youth ages 12-22 from all areas
  • Funding: Scholarships available for those who qualify
How do you keep students on course who might have low motivation?

NCOBS keeps participants engaged as much as possible. There is not a lot of down time. They will be canoeing, doing community service work and expeditioning all day. There is time taken out of the day for "teachable moments" whether it is flora/fauna identification, an interesting fact about the area they are in, or general life lessons. If a student wants to quit, we bring in incentives, personal contracts, letters from parents, as well as other members of the group to lift them up and keep them pushing through. 

How many people are on each course and how many instructors will there be?

A small group is essential to manage wilderness travel and to maximize learning for each individual. Course are broken into crews of up to 12 students with two or more instructors. You will laugh, cry, argue, rejoice, celebrate and share every moment of your course with your crewmates, developing close and lasting relationships.

What is a 'solo'?

Near the end of every course, students separate from each other, staying within close range to the instructors, to be alone,-- or solo -- for a period of time. Most people use this time for reflection, relaxation, as well as a time to use all the technical skills they have learned. This is not a “survival test;" you will not be dropped into a remote area. Participants will be given shelter, food, water and a journal to help them record and reflect while alone. The Solo sites will be chosen by the instructors, who will find a place that is both secluded and within hearing distance of other members of the group for safety. You will not be traveling during this time and your instructors will check on you occasionally. The length of a Solo is determined by course length, weather and group dynamics.

What is solo?

What is the food like?

You will help cook meals for yourself and your group while out on your North Carolina Outward Bound School course. Our food is wholesome, simple, lightweight and not perishable. With high levels of activity on our courses, carbohydrates are essential. A few examples of things you might have are: bagels, cheese, granola, grapenuts, grits, Raisin Bran, oatmeal, pancakes, potatoes, raisins, hummus, peanut butter, pita, salami, tortillas, tuna, trail mix, noodles, beans, soup, chili, gatorade, etc. 

With advance notification, we can accommodate vegetarian and many other special diets. If you have questions about whether we can accommodate your special diet, contact us.

What is the gender make up of my course?

All courses are co-ed unless otherwise published as such (i.e. Girls Only courses). However, there is no guarantee that the course will attract a mixed gender group. If you have questions about the gender make up of a particular course, give us a call, we can share that information with you. We often try to have instructors of both gender on course, but cannot guarantee this is always available. Students on courses with a maximum age of 18 or younger will sleep in single gender groups with instructors in close proximity.

What does tuition cover?

The tuition you pay prior to course covers all of your food while on course, instructor salaries, land use permits and most of the equipment (backpacks, sleeping bags, cooking utensils), and other technical gear associated with the activities you will participate in at North Carolina Outward Bound School.

Students will need to provide their own clothing, footwear and some gear, such as a headlamp, and will be responsible for the costs of any physician's exam (if required) and travel to and from the course meeting site. A clothing and gear list will be provided to each student upon enrollment. You can always call us if you have questions about the clothing and gear requirements.

When can I buy my plane tickets?

We recommend that you delay purchasing nonrefundable airline tickets until you have been approved for participation and the course is confirmed a "go."Occasionally we cancel courses due to permit changes, low enrollment or other issues.

When you have been approved for the course and you know it is a "go", make sure you pay close attention to the start and end times and location of your course start/end before booking your tickets to avoid any mistakes with your reservation.

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