About UsWilderness Expeditions


To Serve, To Strive and Not to Yield. 

Our school delivers programs in some premier outdoor recreation areas in the United States and South America. We currently offer programs in: NC Mountains, NC Outer Banks, the Everglades and rivers of Southern Florida and Patagonia in South America. 

Blue Ridge Mountains, NC

The Southern Appalachians, which include the Blue Ridge Mountains, are some of the oldest in the world and the birthplace of North Carolina Outward Bound School. Western North Carolina is home to hundreds of waterfalls, over a million acres of national forests, park and public land, unique flora and fauna, rushing rivers and some of the highest peaks in the Eastern United States (the highest being Mt. Mitchell, 6,684 ft.) Because of its diverse and beautiful landscapes the Southern Appalachians have appeared in many motion pictures, some of the highest grossing being, the Hunger Games, Last of the Mohicans, The Fugitive, Dirty Dancing and Patch Adams.

Because the Appalachians were once one of the largest mountain ranges in the world they have many different geologic landforms, climates and soils. This long evolutionary history and temperate climate create an area which is teeming with life. Participants can expect to share the wilderness with over 700 different kinds of trees, more than 50 types of mammals, 150 different types of birds and about 40 species of amphibians. Temperatures in this area range from 50-85 degrees in the summer, 30-65 degrees in the spring and fall, and 10-50 degrees in the winter. 


Outer Banks, NC

Dotted with lighthouses, the Outer Banks are a 200-mile-long string of narrow barrier islands beginning in the southeastern corner of Virginia Beach and going down the North Carolina coastline. The Core and Pamlico Sounds, which are along the Cape Lookout National Seashore, are where most of North Carolina Outward Bound School’s sea kayaking courses take place. This wilderness area remains minimally developed and offers the largest expanse of primal barrier island ecology available on the east coast. There are no residents on this 56-mile long section, which runs from Ocracoke Inlet in the northeast to Beaufort Inlet on the southeast.

The three undeveloped barrier islands that make up the seashore - North Core Banks, South Core Banks and Shackleford Banks - offer many natural and historical features. These low profile, sandy, thinly vegetated islands are an International Biosphere Reserve for research and conservation purposes. The unique ecosystem of the Outer Banks is made up of ocean waters, sandy beaches, vital wetlands, maritime forests, and a series of sounds, estuaries and salt marshes. 

The diverse environment gives life to all kinds of creatures, from deer and wild horses, to sea turtles, ghost crabs and dolphins. Located on one of the great migratory flyways of America, birders come to the Outer Banks from all over the world to spot rare birds. The coastal winds of the Outer Banks still carry tales of The Lost Colony, Wilbur and Orville Wright and Blackbeard the Pirate. During the 19th century, the tricky shoals of the Outer Banks swallowed more than 650 ships, quickly earning the nickname "The Graveyard of the Atlantic." The result? An outcropping of lighthouses, which continue to serve as famous landmarks for the Outer Banks today.


Florida Everglades National Park, FL

This course takes place off the west coast of southern Florida in the Everglades National Park and Ten Thousand Islands national Wildlife Refuge. The Everglades are the largest sub-tropical wilderness in the United States and third-largest national park in the lower 48 states. The aquatic preserve is home to an array of wild creatures and exotic plant life. More than 350 species of birds, 300 species of fresh and saltwater fish, 40 species of mammals and 50 reptiles live within it. Because of this it is one of only three locations in the world to show-up on the following lists, an International Biosphere Reserve, a Wetland of an International Importance and World Heritage Site. 

This course area is in a subtropical region, with a 12-month growing season. The Florida peninsula is believed to be the last part of the continental United States to rise from the ocean, making it the youngest region geologically and only Alaska can claim a longer shoreline. The Everglades are mild and pleasant from December through April, with low humidity and clear skies. Temperatures reach average highs of 88 degrees and lows of 54 degrees. Strong cold fronts may occasionally create near freezing conditions, but such events are rare in this subtropical climate. 


Patagonia, South America

One of the least populated regions in the world, Patagonia is a semi-arid plateau that covers over 250,000 square miles in South America located mainly in Argentina but extending partially into southern Chile. Patagonia’s unusual wildlife has attracted many scientific expeditions over hundreds of years, including those of Charles Darwin. The terrain is incredibly diverse with snow-covered volcanic peaks flanked by glaciers, ice slopes and permanent snowfields. The Patagonian steppe is one of the windiest and driest climates in South America, a sharp contrast to the western slopes of the Andes that receive some of the highest rainfall of anywhere in the world.

This course begins in San Carlos de Bariloche, usually known as Bariloche. The city of Barioche (population 108,205) is situated in the foothills of the Andes on the southern shores of Nahuel Huapi Lake and is surrounded by the Nahuel Huapi National Park. The park was established in 1934, and is the oldest national park in Argentina, and the largest in the region with an area of nearly 2 million acres. Its landscapes represent the north Patagonian Andean Zone which is dominated by the high mountain chain of the Andes, many lakes and rivers, waterfalls, snow-clad peaks, glaciers and extensive forests.

TeensTeen Courses 

NCOBS has teen courses for ages 14-16 or 16-18 that focus on self-reliance, teamwork, leadership, compassion and confidence by working through challenges and uncovering new-found strengths. We have co-ed 22, 14, 9 and 8-day courses available in our course areas of the North Carolina Mountains or the Outer Banks.  


Parent-Child Courses

Family courses offer the same challenges as any Outward Bound course, with an added focus on deepening the relationship between a parent and child. On this course, you and your child will learn about teamwork, communication and respect as you accomplish things you never imagined. 


Young Adults

Young adults, ages 18 and up, are often focused on what's next in their lives. From college to career paths, a little extra boost from an outdoor adventure may be just what you need to get to where you're going next. Course options include, backpacking, rock climbing and whitewater canoeing, sea kayaking, or canoeing.

Gap Year & Semester Courses

Take your learning outdoors this year and join NCOBS on an exciting Gap Year/Semester Courses. We offer a multi-course area, 72-day International Semester course and a 50-day Outdoor Leader Course. Both courses offer the opportunity to earn college credit as well! Like all North Carolina Outward Bound School programs, we offer financial aid scholarships to those who qualify. 


Adult Courses 

Taking an Outward Bound course as an adult can be as magical and transformative as taking a course as a teen or young adult. Adults of all ages enjoy our courses and there's something for everyone. You do not have to be an athlete or have any experience to participate. Use our Course Finder to select a course. 


North Carolina Outward Bound School offers several ways to receive academic credit for your wilderness experience.

North Carolina Outward Bound School is not an accredited institution like a university or college. You must work with your school ahead of time to make sure the school will accept your North Carolina Outward Bound School course as academic credit. Credit can be earned either through independent study or as a transfer credit from one of the colleges who work directly with us. If you are interested in receiving academic credit, review our Independent Study Guide for Academic Credit (ISG).

We work directly with two colleges that accept our courses as academic credit, or who can possibly transfer credits to your college/university:

If your school will accept transfer credit, click the links of each college to review their policies and transfer applications/requirements. If you would like to download the documents above, you will need a copy of Adobe Reader (it's free, so download now by clicking here).


How to Get Academic Credit

Age/Course Length 4-14 Days Courses 21-28 Days Courses Outdoor Leader Course Semester Courses
Under Age 18 ISG Only or service project credit ISG Only or service project credit N/A N/A
Age 18+ ISG Only or service project credit ISG or Colorado Colorado & WWC Colorado & WWC


Service-Learning Credit through North Carolina Outward Bound School

Youth courses from 14-22 days have a service project component that some high schools accept as service learning credit. However, before your course begins, you must find out if your high school will accept this course for credit. If they will accept it, be sure to bring the school's required paperwork with you for instructors to fill out. If you do not have this with you when you arrive on your course start day, we cannot guarantee that we will be able to fill it out after your course is completed.

If the cost of a North Carolina Outward Bound School course is beyond your financial means, you may be eligible for a scholarship or financing option.

Scholarship Nearly 40% of our students annually receive a scholarships from us to attend courses. The average percentage we provide is usually between 20-30% of full tuition, but it is directly based on need and the motivation to attend demonstrated by the student's application. Our scholarship committee will determine how much we can offer you after reviewing each application on an individual basis. We try to help all interested students find a way to make our courses affordable, but cannot guarantee that we'll be able to give everyone scholarship assistance.

Financing For those who require additional time to secure full tuition payment, we do offer a payment schedule. Please contact us directly for more information. However, full payment of tuition must be complete prior to your course start date. Assistance is limited and is awarded on a first come, first served basis. 


How to Apply for a Scholarship

  • First, download the Scholarship Application here.
  • Along with the completed Scholarship Application, applicants should also: 

1). Enroll in a course by following Step 1 of our Planning Page. Click to see our Application Policies & Procedures and our Cancelation & Transfer Policies.

2). Write a one-page essay (preferably typed, double-spaced or legibly written) explaining why you want to attend a North Carolina Outward Bound School course (what are your goals, outcomes or personal achievements/skills for attending a course). This essay MUST be written by the applicant (i.e. parents/guardians of youth applying for courses cannot write this, it must be written by the applicant him or herself). Motivation for attending North Carolina Outward Bound School must be demonstrated in this essay for an applicant to be considered for a scholarship.

3). Send copies of your most recent 1040 tax forms (dependents need to send in their parent/guardian's tax forms) or equivalent along with your application and the other materials. If you do not file for taxes, we need something that represents you or your parent/guardian's annual income before we can consider offering a scholarship. 

4). Write a short statement (a couple paragraphs to a full page) on a separate sheet (also preferably typed, double-spaced or legibly written) explaining any financial circumstances that we cannot see in your tax forms that will help our scholarship committee determine if there is any assistance available for you. Parents/guardians of applicants will write this and may also want to include their reasons for wanting their child to attend North Carolina Outward Bound. 

The Process of Reviewing Completed Scholarship Applications: 

It may take approximately two weeks for the scholarship committee to determine if we can offer you a scholarship. Applicants are REQUIRED to follow all procedures and requested due dates to be considered for a scholarship. 

We WILL NOT evaluate your request for financial support until we receive and approve the materials all applicants are required to complete and return to us. Any delay in meeting your due dates will affect the amount of financial aid awarded (delays can be interpreted as a lack of commitment or motivation) and your registration status. You will NOT be refunded the $150 non-refundable Enrollment Processing Fee if you cancel (or are cancelled from course due to lack of communication) before we are able to review your scholarship materials. 

 When this has been determined, someone will contact you to explain the committee's decision.

If you have questions about anything, please contact us at 888-756-2627 or email us at courseadvisor@ncobs.org.

From the Field

  • Patagonia - courtesy Stacy Wren
  • Initiatives
  • Whoo hoo!
  • Learning navigation in Florida Everglades/Ten Thousand Islands
  • Sea kayak with Outward Bound Blue Peter Flag
  • Patagonia
  • Parent-Child ropes course
  • Instructors help you learn paddling skills
  • Positivity!
  • Finding out what we're made of in Patagonia
  • Trust
  • Whitewater Canoeing Skills
  • Veterans Florida Everglades Canoeing
  • Setting up camp on a remote key in the Ten Thousand Islands
  • About to  climb
  • Service Project
  • Service Project
  • Compassion
  • Learning together
  • We made it!
  • Sea kayaking happiness.
  • Beautiful sunset in the 'glades.
  • Ready to repell!
  • Bonded for life on this amazing adventure.

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“Outward Bound changed my life dramatically. I was a little black kid from Georgia who never imagined hiking, backpacking, canoeing, or living in the North Carolina mountains. I came to Outward Bound thinking I was a natural born leader. I left OB knowing that I was leader because I learned how to be just as good of a follower as I was a leader. Almost 10 years later, I have emerged in several arenas as a leader in my schools (high, undergradate and graduate), communities, and now the religious world. I want to thank Outward Bound for the awesome and life transformative experience I had those 21 days in the mountains. ” —David Jackson, 1996 Alum
“I can, without reservation, say that my North Carolina Outward Bound experience was one of the best and most rewarding moments in my life. There is not a day that goes by that does not seem affected by my Outward Bound impressions.” —Art Duel, III, 1977 Alum
“It taught me "plus este en vous" which means I can do more than I believe I can. It taught me to push myself and that I can trust myself. ” —Christina Bell, 2004 Alum
“I had a great time on my Outward Bound experience and I want all my children to some day have the same great experience!” —Graham Moore, 1994 Alum
“North Carolina Outward Bound changed my life. The program gave me self respect, determination and inner strength. Knowing that I was able to be alone in the woods for three days, complete a 15 mile run, and just survive in the wilderness for 21 days builds a character of strength that has lasted through my entire life. ” —Karen Rentz, 1988 Alum
“ It was a tremendously challenging and rewarding journey for me and my crewmates. It has pushed me to think about my life, my assumptions about myself and others and my goals in new ways.” —Amy Rothschild, 2005 Alum
“North Carolina Outward Bound was a powerful experience that remains with me as I work to trust my "inner compass." I continue to find as many opportunities as possible to be outdoors. Outward Bound was also the catalyst to my finding the drive to finish my dissertation.” —Sydney Brown, 2002 Alum
“North Carolina Outward Bound was the most positive influential experience in my life. It provided me with the hard skills and most importantly the soft skills that one needs to enjoy a complete life. I learned that not only do i love the mountains, but the mountains love me. ” —Matthew Shannon, 2004 Alum
“North Carolina Outward Bound was an incredible experience! It was so long ago but the memories that were made will never leave me, and the strength that I gained has helped me through the years.” —Haley Pittman, 1998 Alum
“I completed North Carolina Outward Bound when i was a freshmen in high school. My favorite part was rock climbing. I really felt like I achieved something when i got to the top of the mountain.” —Melinda Perez, 2002 Alum
“ My favorite Outward Bound course was my Classic course in the Southern Appalachians of North Carolina with instructors Will and Deb. They were great! The course was a high school graduation present, the best one possible. It changed my life for the better. It pushed me way past all of my pre-conceived limits, and gave me a sense of self reliance that will be with me forever.” —Brian Cowen, 1998 Alum
“I loved it. Diversity and compassion have completely new meanings. Job well done, North Carolina Outward Bound!” —Adrianne Anderson, 2005 Alum
“Outstanding in every aspect, over 20 years later the impact of the experience is still with me.” —Pamela Doster, 1984 Alum
“North Carolina Outward Bound has enriched my life in so many ways. I wish that I could participate in one every 3-4 years just to get back to life and nature. The "real world" takes so much away from understanding oneself in the natural environment that I lose touch with how much I love being pure, dirty, down to me and life. Outward Bound is a wonderful place where I have learned the most about my strengths and have made lifelong relationships. I hope that when I have a family that I will be able to give my children the priceless gift of an Outward Bound experience. ” —Ramon Johnson, 1997 Alum
“I took my course at the end of my high school senior year. It was a life changing event that I still look back on often.” —David Heston, 1979 Alum
“I've only been on one course, but it was fabulous. It was challenging and definitely took the skills I learned on course to get through the day, but when I was on my way home, you would think I'd want a shower, a soda, my phone or my bed for a change, but all I could think about was going back and doing it again!” —Cara Hall, 2005 Alum
“It's been 10 years and I've talked about it so much that all I can say is : AMAZING. A huge learning experience. While I'll try my best to hold onto as much of my outdoor education as possible, what I know I'll never forget is what I learned about myself. I'll never allow myself to forget how North Carolina Outward Bound taught me, taught all of us, how amazing we all are. How within every one of us is a perfect gem, just waiting for us to take the sleeve of our shirts and wipe it clean.” —Ashley Wells, 2000 Alum
“It changed my life and nothing says it better than "I don't have much to say because what i saw and did is on my heart not in my head."” —Paige Luke, 2002 Alum
“[My course] was an excellent test of strength and change of mindset.” —Walker Holliday, 2005 Alum
“My summer experience at around age 16-17 had a profound impact on my life. I had grown up in Piedmont, NC speding all of my waking hours outside fishing, hunting, camping,etc. The course I took showed me the true NC wilderness and made me appreciate it more.” —Chip Blackley, 1974 Alum
“My North Carolina Outward Bound course is my best accomplishment, next to giving birth to my two boys. I still carry the lessons I learned there with me every day. I will never forget the people or the experience. ” —Karen Hodge, 1990 Alum
“It was fantastic. It taught me the difference between what I thought I could do and what I could actually do and the value of choosing to balance my commitment to my own progress with the progress of a group.” —Roger Taylor, 1973 Alum
“I still look back on those two weeks as a growing experience and learned that it sometimes takes more than one person to get things done and working as a team can be very rewarding. I was very young emotionally, and it made me really take a step back and think about how I was going about things and by the time of the challenge my group and I came together and pushed through the hardest we had all week and showed ourselves what our full potential was.” —Thomas Moore, 2001 Alum
“I had gone camping before, when I was younger with my Girl Scout Troop. At first, I thought that my NC Outward Bound course would be like an "extreme" version of that. But it was very different. The whole experience, learning how to rock climb, meeting so many different people from so many different places all at once, getting to know yourself and pushing yourself to the limit everyday; it was all so amazing. It was a truly wonderful experience that I will never forget and can't wait to do again.” —Courtney Bryant, 2004 Alum
“I loved my experience. It was challenging and really stretched me personally.” —Annika Smith, 1989 Alum
“It was Table Rock Mountain and the mission to Grandfather Mountain that I can never got out of my mind. This was the best sight that my eyes had ever seen, being from New York City.” —Antonio Perez, 1987 Alum
“I learned so much about myself and used what I learned year after year after year. Honestly, I was so inspired and motivated by my experience, I made a vow to myself to keep my [crewmates' handmade] bracelet for as long as possible. Just looking at the bracelet and remembering the obstacles and challenges I had overcome inspired me and motivated me to press on, especially during hard times. ” —Shiffaun Alston, 1999 Alum
“I, along with 7 other members of my high school (Dover High School Dover, N.H.), attended Outward Bound NC in its true infancy (NC-7). I remember Easter on Table Rock Mountain-- the sun looked like a pearl on a white satin pillow when it came up that day.” —David Purington, 1968 Alum (NC-7)
“Thirty years removed from my North Carolina Outward Bound course, whenever those crazy, life 'There's no way I can do tha' moments pop up, I think back to the side of that mountain in June of 1982 and say, 'Yeah, I can do this.'” —Phil, 1982 Alumnus
“I've been a guide and an instructor for many organizations, but NCOB's is where I built my foundation. During instructor training, I felt like I was among giants in the field. Never have I encountered a group so skilled in so many areas - rock climbing, white water, navigating, backpacking, cooking. My trainers perfectly role modeled leadership through compassion and "leading by giving others confidence to do." NCOBS is the barometer through which I measure solid leadership. ” —Kaki Flynn, instructor
“I took a 23-day NCOB course in 1982, and I was pretty much a suburban girl looking for adventure. What I found was much, much more. I met a whole new world! I remember climbing and rappelling the beautiful mountains of North Carolina, canoeing the Chattooga River, the 3-day solo, the great instructors.... and the camaraderie. What remains with me today is my love of adventure. Thank you, Outward Bound! I'll never forget. ” —Jeanine, 1982 Alumnus
“I spent my 21st birthday at North Carolina Outward Bound. I picked NC because I thought they offered a little bit of everything - some water, some climbing and backpacking. Had a GREAT time!! If you are going soon - challenge yourself and enjoy your solo - the time by yourself can be some of the hardest and most rewarding. ” —Helen, 1972 Alumnus
“I did a semester course with NCOB in the fall of 1995. This course saved my life in many ways, put a confused and wandering girl on a better path, inspired me then and continues to be one of the most important experiences of my life. I think of it often. It was one of the hardest and most rewarding times of my life. ” —Wendy, 1996 Alumnus
“It is with great appreciation that I wish to thank you for deeply enriching my daughter physically, mentally and spiritually well beyond our expectations. Your program enables your students to strengthen character and core values both of a general and personal nature that is unfortunately most often not encouraged in our society or educational environment today. My seventeen year old daughter has become aware of her personal weaknesses, how to overcome them, a greater appreciation, respect for nature, her home environment and has learned patience and tolerance towards herself, others and her mother! ” —Johanna, mother of 2011 youth alumnus

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