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General Information

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 offer scholarships or loans?

Yes! About 40 percent of students attending a North Carolina Outward Bound School course receives a scholarships of some kind. Scholarships are awarded to those with financial need on a first-come, first-served basis and as resources allow. We do 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).

Does my child 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 when they enroll. 

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.

 

How does NCOBS work with these students on course?

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

  • We work on communication skills, anger management, conflict resolution, freedom vs. responsibility, choices vs. consequence (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 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.

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. Participants will sleep outside under the stars each night after expeditioning to a new site each day. 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.

At Outward Bound we choose to use the wilderness as our classroom. Unlike other adventure programs, NCOBS chooses to teach through the wilderness and not for it. On an Outward Bound course, students are challenged mentally and physically to step outside their comfort zones. As they learn to work together to live and travel in the wilderness, students discover important skills for life, such as leadership, communication, conflict resolution, decision-making and problem-solving skills, teamwork and responsibility. With real-life consequences, such as getting lost or having to persevere, students have the ability to learn what it's like fail and succeed in a safe, structured environment. 

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.

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 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. 

You can find out more about our instructors by reading instructor profiles.

Read an article about one of our instructors.

Who goes on an 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 School 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.

 

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.

Program 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. See these courses.

Do you have long courses, like a gap year of semester?

Yes! North Carolina Outward Bound has a 72-Day international leadership semester. This course takes students canoeing through the waterways of Florida, rock climbing in the NC Mountains and on a cross-cultural experience in Patagonia. It is truely the adventure of a lifetime. NCOBS also offers an instructor-training course called the Blue Ridge Mountains Instructor Development course, which is 50 days in length. To read more about them, visit our Gap Year & Semester course page.

Does NCOBS have programs for at-risk youth?

Yes! NCOBS has two powerful programs for at-risk youth. To learn more about each of them and who they serve please read below. 

Similarities

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.  

Differences

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

 
Struggling Youth and Young Adults

  • 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?

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, 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 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.

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 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, 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 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 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.

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 Struggling Teens and Adult Programs for?

North Carolina Outward Bound School's struggling teens and young adults courses are for individuals, 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.

Struggling teen and adult courses are 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. These courses take place in Florida. Visit the webpage for more details.

To view struggling youth and adult courses in other parts of the country, visit www.outwardbound.org.

Application Information

Does NCOBS have programs for at-risk youth?

Yes! NCOBS has two powerful programs for at-risk youth. To learn more about each of them and who they serve please read below. 

Similarities

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.  

Differences

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

 
Struggling Youth and Young Adults

  • 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 I enroll?

If you need assistance selecting a course with Outward Bound you can…

  • Try using our Course Finder tool
  • Call to speak with an Admissions Advisor during regular business hours EST (toll free) at 1-800-756-2627. 
  • Email us at info@ncobs.org
  •  Please be sure to read our Application & Cancelation Policies before you enroll.

 If you are ready to apply, here are next steps and information to guide you through our application process:

Step 1: If you are ready to enroll on a course

  • You can apply online by completing the online application form or over the phone (toll-free) at 1-800-756-2627.
  • To secure your spot on a course you must submit an application and a $500 deposit that is applied toward the course tuition. This deposit includes a $150 non-refundable processing fee.
  •  Applying takes 10-15 minutes to complete and we accept all major credit cards.
  • If you are applying from outside the United States, please call us at 1-800-756-2627. 

Step 2: After submitting your application form

  • You will receive an automated email confirming your application form was submitted.
  • Your credit card will be charged the deposit that is applied toward the total cost of the course.
  • We will review your application form in the order it was received and you should receive your registration email and registration packet within 3 business days.
  • An Outward Bound representative may contact you prior to receiving your registration email and registration packet in the event:
    • There is not an available spot on the course you have selected
    • You do not qualify for the course
    • You do not meet the eligibility criteria
    • Be sure to return the completed registration packet for review by the due date noted in the Registration Email.
    • Payment is due 90 days before the start of the course. Be prepared to pay the balance due at this time even if you have yet to submit your completed registration packet or have yet to be cleared to participate on the course.

Step 3: Reviewing and Approving your Completed Registration Packet

  • Once we receive your completed registration packet, Outward Bound will begin the application review process and may require additional information from you or a third party to approve participation on course. 
  • Final approval to participate on the course is contingent upon receipt and review of your required forms to be returned. 
  • Any delays in returning your completed registration packet will delay your approval to attend the course.

Step 4: Paying the balance of tuition for the course. 

  • The $500 deposit submitted with the application form includes a $150 non-refundable processing fee.  The remaining $350 is refundable, if you cancel more than 90 days before the course starts.
  • The remaining balance of tuition is due 90 days before the course starts even if you have yet to be cleared to participate on the course.
  • For your convenience, we now have an Online Payment Option
  • Please be sure to read our Application & Cancelation Policies before you enroll.

Step 5: Get Ready for your Outward Bound course!

  • Start preparing mentally and physically for your course.
  • Learn more about what’s required and how you can better prepare yourself for your personal challenge.

How do I save my spot?

North Carolina Outward Bound School requires a $500 deposit submitted with a completed application form. The $500 deposit is applied toward the tuition cost for the course and includes a $150 non-refundable processing fee.

Deposit fees vary for Grieving Teens courses and there is no deposit required to enroll on courses for Veterans. Please see course details for more information.

Click to read about our Application & Cancelation Policies

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.

Please also read the Application & Cancelation Policies

What happens if I cancel my application?

Please read our Application & Cancelation Policies regarding this scenario or others.

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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