FAQs

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Frequently Asked Questions

 

General Information

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 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.

*New as of 2014, NCOBS has a few select course where friends are encouraged to go together. These are our 14-day mountain activity courses. You can find these by going to the course finder and selecting 14-day and friend courses as search criteria. 

Do you have Gap Year & Semester Courses?

Yes! North Carolina Outward Bound has a 72-Day International Leadership Semester and an instructor-training course called the Outdoor Leader Course, which is 50 days in length. To read more about them, visit our Gap Year & Semester Course page.

Do you offer scholarships or loans?

North Carolina Outward Bound grants nearly half of our students scholarships each year to help make our programs available to all who wish to participate. Scholarships are awarded to those with financial need on a first-come, first-served basis and as resources allow. We are not currently give out loans for our courses and scholarships will only apply to tuition, not to extra expenses (i.e. clothing, travel to and from course start, $125 Application Fee or $125 In-Course Transportation Fee).

Does Outward Bound have any professional affiliations?

North Carolina Outward Bound holds a number of memberships in organizations dedicated to preserving the environment and ensuring that everyone has a chance to experience the great outdoors:

Association for Experiential Education
American Whitewater

North Carolina Outward Bound also holds permits with the following land agencies:

US Forest Service Cherokee
USFS Pisgah
USFS Nantahala
USFS Sumter
USFS Chattahoochee
National Park Service, Cape Lookout National Seashore

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

A small group is esential to manage wilderness travel and to maximize learning for each individual. Each course is broken into a crew 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.

I have a summer job. Can I still take an Outward Bound course?

Outward Bound is a very enriching summer experience. You develop or hone existing skills in leadership, goal-setting and problem-solving that will undoubtedly help you in all of your future endeavors, especially in school and the workplace. Universities and employers will appreciate seeing your Outward Bound experience on college applications and resumes. If necessary, you can always plan your course either early in the summer, or at the very end so that you can take an Outward Bound course and still have a summer job.

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 the food like?

You will help cook meals for yourself and your group while out on your North Carolina Outward Bound course. Our food is wholesome, simple and generally lightweight. With high levels of activity on our courses, carbohydrates are essential. With advance notification, we can accommodate vegetarian and many other special diets. We intentionally avoid prepackaged instant meals.

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 will I be doing on course?

Each North Carolina Outward Bound School course has a variety of activities and skills that you participate in and learn on course. Your course itinerary depends on weather, the skill level of your group and other conditions. Sometimes these factors can impact activities such as whitewater canoeing, rock climbing, ropes courses, peak attempts, etc. Changes in itineraries does not constitute a change in the promise of the product sold and will not result in a refund.

If you have specific questions about a sample itinerary for a course, please contact us at 1-888-75-NCOBS (1-888-756-2627) or info@ncobs.org

 

When can I buy my plane tickets?

We recommend that you delay purchasing nonrefundable airline tickets until your Application Packet has been approved and the course is confirmed. 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.

Where do your courses/programs go?

North Carolina Outward Bound School runs programs in the Southern North Carolina mountains, the Outer Banks, the Florida Everglades and Ten Thousand Islands and in Patagonia, an area of Southern Argentina. Click to learn more about each course area.

Why do age ranges overlap?

North Carolina Outward Bound offers courses with age ranges of 14-16, 16-18, 18+, 18-30, 20+, and 30+. The overlapping age ranges give individuals a wide variety of courses and dates to choose from. These age ranges also allow parents and students to choose the course most fitting based on age, grade level or maturity. If you have questions about what age range is most suitable for your, please call to speak with our Admissions Advisor at 1-888-756-2627 or e-mail at info@ncobs.org.

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.

The Outward Bound Difference

To experience a course with North Carolina Outward Bound is a challenge unlike any other wilderness experience out there.

Can I get academic credit for my Outward Bound course?

Your school may offer credit for your North Carolina Outward Bound School course, but you must arrange this with your school before your course begins. Check out the tab under our Wilderness Programs page regarding academic credit.

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. Click to learn more about how to receive academic credit.

Courses that students typically seek academic credit for include our Gap Year & Semester Courses.

Do you have Gap Year & Semester Courses?

Yes! North Carolina Outward Bound has a 72-Day International Leadership Semester and an instructor-training course called the Outdoor Leader Course, which is 50 days in length. To read more about them, visit our Gap Year & Semester Course page.

What are your courses for grieving teens?

Heroic Journey is our program for teens ages 14-18 who are grieving a death of a loved one. You can read more about this unique wilderness experience here.

Where do your courses/programs go?

North Carolina Outward Bound School runs programs in the Southern North Carolina mountains, the Outer Banks, the Florida Everglades and Ten Thousand Islands and in Patagonia, an area of Southern Argentina. Click to learn more about each course area.

Who are your instructors?

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 Wildernes 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 inhance our participants' experience on course. 

Learn more about who we hire.

Read an article about one of our instructors.

Who comes to Outward Bound wilderness courses?

North Carolina Outward Bound School courses are open to individuals, in reasonably good physical condition, who want to learn more about themselves. You must be at least 14 years old to enroll (Parent/Child courses are open for ages 12+). Overall, the male/female ratio is close to 50/50, although we cannot guarantee this will always be the case.

North Carolina Outward Bound also believes that working within a small group of diverse individuals builds life skills that make us all stronger. Communication, tolerance, problem solving, the ability to embrace differences and, ultimately, compassion are all skills practiced in our courses. Click to see more about our Mission & Goals.

We accept and enroll people of any race, color, sex, age, socioeconomic class, sexual orientation, national origin, gender identity, ethnicity, religion and family make-up.

We also design courses for educators, professionals and organizations and schools & groups.

 

What makes Outward Bound different from summer camps and other adventure programs?

North Carolina Outward Bound School is not "summer camp." We offer a full wilderness experience, which is much different than a summer camp. Paticipants will sleep outside under the stars each night in different spots along a National Forest. They will cook meals outside on a camp stove and learn how to use a map and compass as well as other camping and technical skills.

Outward Bound is more than fun and excitement. It’s about challenging yourself to do things you never thought possible and discovering your true potential. It’s the beginning of a personal journey that continues for the rest of your life. The real power of Outward Bound is what you make of it in expanding your possibilities.  North Carolina Outward Bound School courses are wilderness expeditions designed to propel students into character building experiences that require participants to dig deep and discover hidden strength. You will learn things on a course that you can apply to your daily life at home, school and work.

To see a listing of our current featured courses and staff favorites, visit our Featured Courses page.

Enrollment Information

Do I get my application fee back if I cancel or if my application is not approved?

No. The Application Fee is refundable ONLY if you:

  • Apply for a Scholarship and don't qualify for, or do not accept, an award
  • Are waitlisted and a spot does not become available for you on course
  • Are listed on a course that we cancel.

Please read our Enrollment Policies & Procedures and Cancellation & Transfer Policies.

Do you offer scholarships or loans?

North Carolina Outward Bound grants nearly half of our students scholarships each year to help make our programs available to all who wish to participate. Scholarships are awarded to those with financial need on a first-come, first-served basis and as resources allow. We are not currently give out loans for our courses and scholarships will only apply to tuition, not to extra expenses (i.e. clothing, travel to and from course start, $125 Application Fee or $125 In-Course Transportation Fee).

Does North Carolina Outward Bound have programs for at-risk youth?

While North Carolina Outward Bound serves a variety of people across the world, we do have limited programs for struggling teens and young adults and their families who may be struggling with certain risky behaviors, dropping out of school, delinquency or becoming chronic offenders. Please see more information under the headings for the Intercept Program on this FAQ page.

Click to learn more about the Intercept Program offered through North Carolina Outward Bound.

Click to learn more about Intercept Program offerings at other Outward Bound schools in other parts of the country.

If you have questions as to whether or not you or your child fits within our guidelines, please don't hesitate to e-mail us at info@ncobs.org.

There is another program called Families in Need of Services (FINS), which is available for struggling teens in certain areas of Florida and Alabama. North Carolina Outward Bound runs the FINS program out of our Scottsmoor and Key Largo Basecamp. Alabama Outward Bound School runs all the FINS programming at their Five Rivers Basecamp. You can read more about the FINS program here.

 

How do I enroll?

There are a couple ways you can enroll on a North Carolina Outward Bound course.

1). The fastest way to enroll, secure your spot on course and get your questions answered right away is to call us at 1-888-75-NCOBS (1-888-756-2627).

2). Or you can complete our online secure Enrollment Form linked in Step 1 of our Planning section.

 Please be sure to read our Enrollment Policies & Procedures and Cancellation & Transfer Policies before you enroll.

 

How do I get my child signed up to attend a program?

The first step in the process is to fill out the application (please be sure to have a referring counselor fill out the portion on the first page. This could be a teacher, guidance counselor, private counselor, pastor, priest, or other professional) and medical information. The Second step is to mail or fax the application and medical record to us. Once we have a course opening available we will call you and schedule an interview with you, your child, and our Intake Coordinator. At the end of the interview, you will be told if your child has been accepted and which course they are schedule to attend. You can find this information on the individual pages for the Scottsmoor or Key Largo basecamps.

How much is it to enroll?

A Non-Refundable Application Fee of $125 must accompany each enrollment if it is more than 60 days before course begins. This is a non-refundable charge that does not apply toward tuition and is required at the time of enrollment. 

In addition to the application fee and the price of tuition, students are required to pay a $125 In-Course Transportation Fee which also does not apply toward tuition.This fee is due with the remaining balance of tuition at 60 days before a course start.

If enrolling less than 60 days before course begins, students are required to pay all tuition and fees in full.

Click to read about our Enrollment Policies and Procedures.

Click to read about our Cancellation & Transfer Policies.

If you are applying for a scholarship, you only will be asked to pay the $125 Application Fee at enrollment. See more about our Scholarships here.

What are your courses for grieving teens?

Heroic Journey is our program for teens ages 14-18 who are grieving a death of a loved one. You can read more about this unique wilderness experience here.

What does tuition cover?

The tuition covers all food while on course, instructor salaries, land use permits and most of the equipment, including backpacks, sleeping bags and other technical gear associated with the activities you will participate in at North Carolina Outward Bound.

Students may 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 clothing and gear to help you make a decision about enrolling in a particular course.

In addition to all the tuition prices listed for each course, there are two additional fees required:

1). $125 Non-refundable Application Fee

2). $125 In-Course Transportation Fee

The $125 Non-refundable Application Fee must be paid at enrollment to secure your spot on course if it is 61 or more days before your course starts. Full tuition and fees must be paid at enrollment if it is 60 or fewer days until your course starts.

Please also read Enrollment Policies & Procedures and Cancellation & Transfer Policies.

What is the purpose of the Transportation Fee?

The $125 In-Course Transporation Fee covers transporation to and from course start/end locations, to the trailhead drop-off points, as well as other expenses related to maintaining a fleet of vehicles. Certain semester courses may have additional expenses for travel between locations.

Click to read our Enrollment Policies & Procedures and Cancellation & Transfer Policies.

When can I buy my plane tickets?

We recommend that you delay purchasing nonrefundable airline tickets until your Application Packet has been approved and the course is confirmed. 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.

The Intercept Program

Intercept Courses run through North Carolina Outward Bound School are designed to help struggling teens ages 12 to 13, 14-17 and young adults 18 to 22 years old from all over the United States wanting to transition their lives in more meaningful and positive directions.

Do parents have to attend the seminar?

Yes. At least one parent or gaurdian needs to attend the Intercept seminar. Outward Bound determines if a parent is not willing to attend they do not have enough investment in their child to attend the program. If a parent or gaurdian cannot attend the seminar their child will not be accepted into the program. 

Do you except age waivers for Intercept Courses?

NCOBS cannot accept age waivers for Intercept courses. Due to the maturity level as well as general size, we have found that in the past students are not as successful in age groups outside of their own. 

Does my child have to want to go?

Intercept students don't necessarly have to "want" to go on course, but they do have to be willing to attend, fully participate in all course activities and follow the rules and regulations of Outward Bound. This is not a boot camp, we do not force participants to go on course. 

Does North Carolina Outward Bound have programs for at-risk youth?

While North Carolina Outward Bound serves a variety of people across the world, we do have limited programs for struggling teens and young adults and their families who may be struggling with certain risky behaviors, dropping out of school, delinquency or becoming chronic offenders. Please see more information under the headings for the Intercept Program on this FAQ page.

Click to learn more about the Intercept Program offered through North Carolina Outward Bound.

Click to learn more about Intercept Program offerings at other Outward Bound schools in other parts of the country.

If you have questions as to whether or not you or your child fits within our guidelines, please don't hesitate to e-mail us at info@ncobs.org.

There is another program called Families in Need of Services (FINS), which is available for struggling teens in certain areas of Florida and Alabama. North Carolina Outward Bound runs the FINS program out of our Scottsmoor and Key Largo Basecamp. Alabama Outward Bound School runs all the FINS programming at their Five Rivers Basecamp. You can read more about the FINS program here.

 

How do you keep students on course?

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 essons. If a student wants to quit, we bring in incentives, personal contracts, as well as other members of the group to lift them up and keep them pushing through. Intercept also has a higher staff to student ratio, about 3 to 11, which gives the option for more one on one interaction. 

How does NCOBS work with students out on course?

NCOBS Intstructors use a variety of tools to work with students. Some examples are:

  • We work on communication skills, anger management, conflict resolution, freedom vs. responsibilit, choices vs. consequesnce (positive and negative). Students are taught tools focused on these areas which are then consistently reinforced throughout the course.
  • We use verbal as well as written contracts in the field to keep them on task and engaged.
  • We use incentive as a motivational tool in the field if the students want to quit.
  • Individual and group meetings
  • Wilderness activities as learning tools

What are some of the benefits of participating in Intercept?

Students and parents will learn tools that empower them in areas such as decision making, communication, and taking resposibility for their actions. Participants will aslso learn self- confidence and leadership skills that they can use upon returning home. 

Who comes on Intercept Courses?

North Carolina Outward Bound School Intercept Courses are for struggling teens and young adults ages 12-13, 14-17 or 18-22. They are designed to help with:

  • Chronically poor school performance
  • Anger management issues
  • Defiance
  • Low motivation
  • Risky behaviors such as experimenting with drugs or alcohol, sneaking out, or truancy.

Intercept is NOT for teens with a history of violent behavior, recent suicide attempts, serious eating disorders, chemical dependencies or chronic juvenile offenders. We have the choice to accept or deny any applicant in the Intercept program and do not take students who are mandated to attend by the court system. Intercept courses take place in Florida. Visit the Intercept webpage for more details.

To view Intercept courses in other parts of the country, visit www.outwardbound.org and choose Struggling Teens on the home page.

Preparation and Fitness

Do I have what it takes?

Your success at North Carolina Outward Bound depends much more on your state of mind than how fast or how strong you are. You do have to embrace physical and mental challenge, be committed to discovery and have the motivation to take every step, even the ones that don't come easy.

No one else can complete a course for you, so you should bring determination, a willingness to learn, a spirit of cooperation and an eagerness for adventure and fun. If you are dedicated to giving it your all, Outward Bound will give you something to hold onto for the rest of your life.

Click to read more about physical and mental preparation for an Outward Bound course.

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.

Gap Year & Semester Courses are particularly challenging.

It is important that you be prepared to keep and 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.

Click for more information on how to prepare physically and mentally for North Carolina Outward Bound.

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.

Click for more information on our to prepare physically and mentally for you course.

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