> WHAT TO EXPECT (Food, Solo, Crew, Instructors)
> DIVERSITY & NON-DISCRIMINATION STATEMENT
> ELIGIBILITY CRITERIA FOR WILDERNESS-BASED COURSES
We look forward to having you on course with us soon! If you have questions about the application process, submitting forms, or anything else, you may contact your student services representative directly, call the Student Services General Line ,(800) 878-5258 or email us at, email@example.com.
Now that you have enrolled, this Course Page is your “go to” location for all forms, gear lists and information specific to your course. Bookmark it for future reference! Below you will find the page divided into 5 blue tabs. Each tab has multiple expandable sections. Familiarizing yourself with the information on this Course Page is an essential part of preparing for course.
It is natural to have questions when preparing for the adventure ahead. Many answers to your questions can be found on this Course Page or within our Frequently Asked Questions. Additionally, you can always contact the Student Services Department.
We look forward to seeing you Outward Bound!
Participants will journey deep into the mountains of Western North Carolina on this backpacking and rock climbing expedition. These mountains are some of the oldest in the world and home to hundreds of waterfalls, over a million acres of national forest, park and public land, unique rock formations and the highest peaks in the Eastern United States.
Please review the Application & Cancelation Policies.
If your payment is not received by the due date listed in your Application Portal, you will risk losing your position on the course and your $500 deposit.
Specifics: During your course, you will be backpacking approximately six to eight days.
These days will be divided into three phases–training, main and final. During the training and main phases, you learn safety precautions for backcountry foot travel, how to find campsites, how to navigate terrain as well as how to use a map and compass. Equally important will be time spent learning conflict resolution, communication styles, leadership and team building. During the final phase, your instructors may allow your group to travel independently (without direct instructor supervision) provided you and your crew have demonstrated personal and crew responsibility and necessary wilderness skills.
Since your crew’s navigation depends on individual and group decision making, your crew could make some navigational errors along the way. You may hike 12 to 15 hours in one day to reach your destination or you could go three miles uphill one day and 12 miles over varied terrain the next day. The backpacks can weigh 55+ pounds. Remember, PHYSICAL PREPARATION IS KEY!
Specifics: Weather permitting, you may spend up to three days rock climbing and rappelling.
With a focus on the practice of safety, your lessons will start with the basics, such as working with ropes and learning to tie knots used for climbing and rappelling. You will progress to:
You may progress to:
Solo typically occurs more than halfway through your course and may last between 36-48 hours. Your instructors will assign each participant an individual campsite within a designated area. Your instructors will teach you procedures to follow during solo and monitor you during this experience. You will know the location of your instructors’ campsite should you need to contact them; otherwise it is essential that you remain in your designated area. If your course has an overnight solo you will have your clothing, food and water. In addition, you will have Outward Bound issued gear: including rain gear, shelter, sleeping bag, compass and whistle. Due to a decreased need for caloric intake, you will have less food available than you would have during your other course activities. Solo is a not a “survival test.” You will not be physically active during solo, as solo is a time for rest, recharge and reflection. Solo is also a good time to write in the journals we provide. If you have questions or concerns, please discuss with your Student Services Representative or your instructors.
Service will be a continuous theme throughout your course. The ethic of service is practiced through Leave No Trace camping techniques, reaching out with compassion to your fellow crewmates and working together as a team to overcome the challenges of Outward Bound.
On your course, the ethic of service is practiced in greater depth and often includes a service project. Projects range from campsite restoration and maintaining hiking trails in the wilderness to supporting the surrounding communities by assisting families in need, sharing outdoor activities with disadvantaged children or helping in local wildlife restoration centers. Service projects typically last 6-8 hours. Alert your instructor AT COURSE START if you need written verification or documentation of service project hours.
FINAL CHALLENGE EVENT
At the end of your course, you will participate in a personal challenge event. This is a great time to see how much your physical fitness and endurance have improved since you began your course. This event will be a running activity. It is not a race. Your instructors set a certain route for your crew and you complete the route at a level that will challenge you the most.
BLUE RIDGE MOUNTAINS, NC
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.
This course area is situated within a million acres of national forests, federally-protected wilderness areas, and other public lands. Its diverse landscapes have been featured in many motion pictures, including The Hunger Games and The Last of the Mohicans. <Click to learn more about this course area.>
While in the mountains, each crew will be given large tarps to set up as shelters. You will also be given a ground sheet and a foam sleeping pad to place under your sleeping bag.
Here are some books that we encourage you to read as you plan for your course:
While you do not have to be a gifted athlete or in peak physical condition to attend an Outward Bound course, you do have to prepare for the challenges of Outward Bound.
There are two kinds of strength necessary to complete your course; physical and mental. Your body needs to be strong, but you must also come with an open mind, willing spirit and a cooperative attitude. Whether you paddle a canoe or kayak for six or eight hours, expedition with a 50+ pound pack for 10 miles or scale a rock wall, you will be pushed and rewarded on many levels.
Note to smokers and caffeine drinkers: If you smoke, it's essential to quit before you arrive. Using your course as a means to quit smoking is NOT recommended. You will be put in a number of stressful situations and a person suffering from nicotine withdrawal may not be able to effectively deal with those situations. If you drink caffeine, it is also essential to significantly reduce your level of consumption prior to your course start. Caffeine withdrawal may cause severe headaches which can hinder your progress on course.
Consider and be prepared for:
Teamwork: Be ready to be part of a team. Think about other team experiences you may have had in the past. Remember what helped your team be successful. Plan on being a positive contributor during your course.
Living with Less: Look around and think about what you have and what you truly need. Things we may take for granted like hot running water, upholstered furniture and sidewalks will not be part of your experience. When you get into the routines of wilderness living, you may notice that life in the wilderness and life at home are similar in that they are ultimately about food, clothing, shelter and the relationships you have with those around you. Because the wilderness lifestyle is simple, you will leave behind non-essentials like deodorant, make up, electronic devices and books.
Being Away from Home: Whether it is the first or the 20th time you have been away from home, you might not have been this “out of touch.” Don’t be surprised if you feel homesick at some point. Please use your instructors and teammates as resources for support.
Compassion: Compassion is a pillar on which Outward Bound was built. Compassion can be shown in kind, thoughtful actions and can be practiced during course through active listening and understanding of other perspectives. You may find that you need to make compromises as you support your team. It is always important to remember that your attitude and actions affect everyone.
Group Discussion: Your instructors will lead group discussions as you debrief each day. Through coaching from your instructors, your group will practice positive communication and conflict resolution techniques. These skills help your group maintain respect for individual opinions no matter how they may differ. Hopefully, these lessons will extend to your everyday life. Be prepared to share your perspective and gain insight from others during these discussions.
Have fun and enjoy the adventure of preparation while training for your course! This is an excellent opportunity for you to get outside, get fit and explore your neighborhood's parks and recreation areas.
Adopt Healthy Habits: A great way to physically prepare is to adopt healthy habits. Reduce consumption of fatty foods, excessive alcohol and caffeine as these substances require a lot of water and oxygen to metabolize. Eat plenty of unrefined carbohydrates (i.e. whole grains). Drink water regularly instead of juice or soda. If you drink or use tobacco or tobacco products, it is essential to quit before you arrive. And last, but not least, arrive at course start well rested.
FITNESS AND TRAINING
• You do NOT have to be an athlete or highly-trained to attend an Outward Bound course.
• You DO have to be physically capable and active. Our courses are demanding. You will use your muscles in new and challenging ways.
• It takes strength and fitness to paddle a boat for six or eight hours a day, carry a 50+ pound pack for 5-10 miles or climb a rock wall. If you aren’t already involved in a fitness program, now is the time to start. Your efforts will pay off in enjoyment, comfort and fun.
> View our suggestions for building fitness, testing your heart rate and an eight week fitness plan.
PREPARATION FOR BACKPACKING
Hike with a weighted backpack. Start with 20-30 lbs., then build to 50+ lbs. If you do not own a backpack, you may be able to borrow one from a friend, family member or rent one from an outdoor sporting goods store. If none of these options are available, try a smaller "book bag" style backpack with approximately 15 lbs. in it. Start out hiking just a couple of miles on hilly terrain or stairs and increase your intensity and mileage as you gain strength and endurance. On course, you can expect to carry a backpack that weighs approximately 40 to 55 lbs. and you may be hiking for distances of five to 15 miles per day.
PREPARATION FOR ROCK CLIMBING
Climbing indoors at your local rock climbing gym is the best way to prepare for climbing outdoors. If climbing at a gym is not available, substitute pull-ups, sit-ups and strength training with weights. On course, you will practice knots, climbing and belay techniques as well as safety procedures.
Due to Leave No Trace camping ethics, we seldom build fires. You will be cooking on gas camp stoves. With coaching from your instructors, you learn backcountry cooking techniques and are responsible for helping with the preparation of all meals. Your diet will be a mix of dehydrated foods, fresh fruits and vegetables. We use rice, beans, tortillas, granola, oatmeal, crackers, salami, cheese, peanut butter, jelly, tuna fish, pasta and trail mixes.
The amount of physical activity you experience during your course demands a nutritious diet to help fuel your body. Junk food is not available on course. To prepare, we suggest you cut down on candy, soft drinks, coffee, pastries and other junk foods. Moderating caffeine, alcohol and tobacco consumption will contribute to your fitness. These products will not be part of your Outward Bound course; a clear head and fast reflexes are essential to safety and success on course. If you are overweight, don’t go on a crash diet to shed extra pounds; you will only deplete the strength you want to develop. Please check with our Medical Screener to set a realistic goal for weight loss and stay committed.
The following list represents common meals at Outward Bound (this is not a menu)
Drinks (other than water)
Maintaining personal hygiene in the wilderness is important and is taught on every course. You will be outside while on course and won't have access to a shower or bath. You will be able to do basic cleanup every day: brush your teeth, wash your face and comb your hair. At the end of your course, you will be able to do a more thorough cleanup.
Since North Carolina Outward Bound is an outdoor program, you can expect to learn and use Leave No Trace camping techniques. Know that it is natural to have questions regarding sanitation in an outdoor setting. Your instructors will answer your questions and will teach you the hygienic and environmentally safe way to dispose of waste as well as techniques for basic cleanliness - don't hesitate to approach them with any questions or concerns
Cell phones, tablets, GPS devices and all other electronic devices (exception-digital cameras) are not permitted on course. Electronic devices can be distracting and disruptive to the wilderness experience. Stepping away from these devices encourages participants to focus on their experience and their crewmates.
Cell Phones: Although cell phones are not permitted on course, traveling to and from your course with a cell phone and a charger is encouraged. At course start, you will be asked to turn off your cell phone and store it in your personal luggage. Your luggage will be locked in a group storage bin at our facility while you are on course.
Cameras: Cameras are welcomed at North Carolina Outward Bound. We recommended waterproof disposable cameras. If you elect to bring a non-disposable camera, we advise that you store it in a small “dry bag ” or plastic zip lock-bag. Our courses are rigorous and there is a risk of losing or damaging your camera. Cell phone cameras, tablets and any other Wi-Fi enabled electronic devices with built-in cameras are not permitted on course.
Depending on the length of your course and course area, mail may be delivered to you. Delivery can take up to one week from the time it reaches our base camp. Please do not have packages sent to you unless they contain emergency items - no candy or food please! All correspondence must be clearly addressed with the participant’s name and course number. Letters received near the end of the course may not be delivered on time and will be returned to sender. You will be notified of your base camp mailing address and emergency numbers prior to your course start. If your course allows for mail delivery (criteria below), remember to bring postcards with stamps attached as you can write to family and friends while you are on course.
Mail can be sent and received in the NC Mountains. Delivery may take up to one week from the time it reaches our base camp. You will receive address information prior to your course start. Remember to bring postcards or stationery and envelopes with stamps attached so you can write to your family and friends while you are on course.
At all levels of our school, we demonstrate our dedication to participant safety by our words, actions and values. Outward Bound has been a national leader in wilderness safety for over 50 years and frequently advises and assists other organizations in outdoor adventure risk management. Living and traveling in a remote wilderness setting exposes you to risks different than those you may encounter in your daily life. We believe that accepting appropriate risks and training and preparing participants to manage those risks, provides invaluable life experience. Regardless of precautionary measures, risk and uncertainty are central to the concept of challenge and adventure. The intent is not to avoid activities involving risk but to recognize, prepare for and successfully manage risk. In order to identify any potential hazards and update best practices, our programs are regularly reviewed by outdoor professionals from inside and outside the Outward Bound system.
Outward Bound instructors receive regular training in the activities and environments in which we deliver our courses. They are trained to anticipate and manage risks inherent in remote areas. They are also trained in first aid, search and rescue and emergency management. Our instructors are certified Wilderness First Responders; some are Wilderness Emergency Medical Technicians or equivalent. Outward Bound maintains a minimum staff-to-student ratio of approximately 1:6. Instructors work in teams of two or three with six to 12 students. Instructor teams are usually co-ed but balancing skills and teaching styles is our primary staffing focus. One instructor in every team is a lead instructor with multiple seasons of training and experience. The lead instructor has single point accountability for the safety and effectiveness of the course in the field as well as mentoring their staffing team. For more information on our instructors, please check out our staff profiles page or our careers page for instructor requirements.
As a participant, you must take responsibility for yourself by following instructions and practicing the skills taught by your instructors.
Please also review our Safety and Risk Management page.
If a family emergency occurs while the course is in progress, emergency messages can be relayed by calling our toll-free number (800-878-5258) on weekdays 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM eastern time. Prior to course start, you will receive an email that provides an after-hours and weekend emergency phone number.
The Student Services Department of the North Carolina Outward Bound School is committed to supporting you through the enrollment process. If you have comments or feedback to share regarding your experience with us, please contact our Director of Student Services Erin Broome, firstname.lastname@example.org.
North Carolina Outward Bound School supplies the technical equipment needed for your, course. Depending on the course activities, we provide backpacks, canoes, sea kayaks, rock climbing gear, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, shelter, rain gear, compass, food, water bottles, cooking equipment, and eating utensils. Please refer to the Clothing and Gear List below for the items to bring to course.
Because our courses are subject to unpredictable weather, obtaining the proper clothing is crucial. Please bring the items on the Clothing and Gear list as described.
First, shop your closet or those of your family or friends - you might have many of these items already. Then start planning what you may need to buy, leaving yourself time to find sales or free shipping.
Many students shop for clothing and gear from the following retailers:
Plan ahead! When you arrive for course start, you will not have an opportunity to purchase forgotten items!
When packing, use a duffel bag or soft-sided luggage (if available) due to limited storage space at our facility.
When you arrive, your instructors will facilitate a process we call “duffel shuffle” that includes:
Our Clothing and Gear list reflects the layering principle. It is vital that all your clothing be comfortable, quick-drying, and warm. Several layers of light clothing keep you warm and can be adjusted to changes in both weather and activity. For example, wearing a long sleeve shirt, a fleece layer and a jacket allows you to adapt to changing conditions.
Points to keep in mind while planning and shopping:
Participants will not be permitted to begin their course without their required medications OR with new medications not approved by our Medical Screener.
All medications (prescription, non-prescription and over-the-counter) must:
Your medication container should not include other medications, vitamins or supplements. If possible, bring a double supply.
Do not bring non-prescription medications such as aspirin, Advil, etc., unless they are listed in your medical information. We have a medical kit that contains these medications.
Medication updates that occur after applicants are cleared to participate could affect their status on course. Please update the Student Services Department with any medication changes such as:
For participants on youth courses, our instructors carry all prescription medications, with the exception of birth control and emergency medications such as EpiPens or rescue asthma inhalers.
For participants on adult (age 18+) courses, we encourage participants to store their medication(s) container(s) in a zip-lock bag for protection. Pill sorters are not recommended.
Please bring your prescription eyewear to course and any applicable backup options. For glasses a retaining band is necessary to prevent loss during an activity.
For participants who wear contact lenses, you must bring your prescription glasses as back up. Be sure to bring enough contact lens solution so you can be diligent in your contact lens routine while out on course.
Please be aware that the use of contact lenses in the backcountry does carry more risk than when at home. A great level of diligence and hygiene is required in ensuring you do not damage your eyes.
You will be outside during your course. To maintain your health and comfort, the best protection from biting insects, skin irritation and sunburn is a physical barrier of clothing. Bring the required clothing and gear listed – it's essential to your comfort and safety.
It is your responsibility to follow your instructor’s directions and monitor how your skin reacts to the changing environment. Let them know if you encounter skin concerns before they present a barrier to your participation.
If you are traveling by air to your course, please review the TSA Carry-on Requirements for liquids.
Here are a few tips caring for long, kinky, or curly hair while on course:
Before course, consider putting your hair in a protective style, allowing enough time for your head to adjust prior to the start of your Outward Bound course. Be sure that your protective style will fit underneath a helmet. Suggested protective styles include:
Increased physical activity during Outward Bound may cause a change in your menstrual cycle. Prepare your menstruation kit using a zip lock bag even if you don’t expect your cycle during course.
Items to include:
We practice Leave No Trace camping techniques. Therefore, we pack out what we pack in. Instructors will distribute small opaque zip lock bags and small stuff sack for your individual storage of used items.You will dispose of any used items either during re-supplies (approximately every three to seven days) or at course end.
Your instructors are experienced in addressing menstruation care questions or concerns while on course. Don’t hesitate to ask them questions.
Proper footwear is essential for your safety and enjoyment. Take the following information with you when shopping for boots. The best boot for our terrain for backpacking courses is described as:
Do not bring:
FITTING YOUR BOOTS It is essential that your boots fit properly and are comfortable. You are unlikely to judge this walking around a store. Some retailers will allow you to purchase your boots with the understanding that if you wear them indoors for several hours and they do not feel comfortable, you may return them. Fit your boots with the socks you will wear on course.
BREAKING IN YOUR BOOTS Begin wearing your boots long before your course starts. Wear them around town and at home as much as possible every day for several weeks. You should put 10+ miles on your boots to break them in, walking on both level and rough terrain. If you start feeling any hot spots, treat them immediately using moleskin to protect against the hiker’s worst enemy: the blister! Be kind to your feet.
WATERPROOFING YOUR BOOTS After you are confident your boots fit properly, make sure they are waterproofed. Some boots are already waterproofed when purchased; but if not, follow the sales associate or manufacturer’s recommendations concerning the type of waterproofing to apply.
It's nice to go light, but many past students also recommend bringing the following items:
Camp & River Crossing Shoe: This shoe will be used in camp as a break from hiking boots and for use when wading across streams and rivers. They WILL be completely submerged in water. They should be quick drying, fit securely, have a heel strap, be closed-toed, and protect most of the foot.
Popular choices for this shoe include:
Flip-flops, slides, aqua socks, diving booties, or other soft/neoprene-type footwear are NOT appropriate.
Sneaker, Tennis Shoe or Running Shoe: A sneaker, tennis shoe or running shoe is used for times when you won’t need hiking boots but do need a sturdy, closed toe shoe. Examples include running, group problem solving activities or camp chores. This shoe does not need to be brand new.
Each applicant has been sent a Welcome Email that contains an individual Applicant Portal link. Emails are sent from email@example.com. If you need this email re-sent, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line Resend Applicant Portal. Please also include in the body of your email you or your child's full name.
Once you have accessed your Applicant Portal, please review the Welcome Tab and then proceed to the Forms tab. All forms must be completed before your application will be reviewed. Your position may be released if required forms become past due.
ONLY MAKE TRAVEL ARRANGEMENTS AFTER:
We typically need 6 firm enrollments in order to confirm the course as “GO.” If you purchase airline tickets before notified to do so, make sure you either purchase refundable/transferable tickets OR purchase trip insurance covering the cost of airfare in the event your course is canceled or if you are not cleared to participate. North Carolina Outward Bound is not responsible for refunding the cost of airline tickets, clothing and gear, etc.
This is our only pick-up location/time. We are unable to accommodate pick ups outside of the info outlined below.
Asheville Regional Airport (AVL) – www.flyavl.com
61 Terminal Drive – Fletcher, NC 28732-9442
Traveling to and from course with a cell phone and charger is encouraged. Upon arrival and check in with our staff at the airport, we will remind participants to call their families immediately, as cell phones are not permitted once the course has officially begun. At that point, all cell phones will be turned off and stored in personal luggage until course end.
If you are delayed while traveling, call us immediately at 800-878-5258. We work diligently to accommodate unforeseen travel delays. However, in certain cases of extreme delays, it may not be possible for you to join the course.
Be dressed in items from the clothing list, make all necessary calls and have eaten prior to departure from the airport.
Review current government regulations regarding carry-on items at www.tsa.gov. Many airlines charge for each checked bag. Check your airline’s baggage policy and pay any fees for you or your child’s inbound and outbound ﬂights.
North Carolina Outward Bound strongly suggests that you wear a mask while on planes and in other crowded, confined spaces during your travel.
Staff will be wearing an Outward Bound shirt or hat and/or carrying an Outward Bound sign. They will have a list of all student names and will note your arrival.
Our supervision officially begins when students depart the airport by NCOBS vehicle or charter transportation.
YOUR COURSE WILL END AT THIS LOCATION WHETHER YOU ARE DEPARTING BY PLANE OR CAR.
Asheville Regional Airport (AVL) – www.flyavl.com
61 Terminal Drive – Fletcher, NC 28732-9442
This is our only drop-off location.
Airlines define an Unaccompanied Minor (UM) as a child flying without a parent, guardian or another trusted adult. Your airline may designate your child as an Unaccompanied Minor. The airline’s Unaccompanied Minor policy may NOT be clear to you if you purchase your child’s ticket through an online travel site. If applicable, confirm the airline you choose allows Unaccompanied Minors to board connecting flights.
Plan carefully to avoid your child being stranded at a connecting airport!
Airlines are extremely strict about payment of the UM fee. The North Carolina Outward Bound School is neither responsible for paying the UM fees nor determining which individuals are required to pay the fee. Airline representatives have refused to board UMs whose families have not paid the required UM fees, causing students to miss their departing flights.
Before you book your child’s airline ticket:
Review the UM policies for each airline before choosing an itinerary – each airline has their own policy and age requirements:
Allegiant Airlines / American Airlines / Delta Airlines / United Airlines
At least two weeks prior to course start, we will email a request for travel arrangements.
Please reference our COVID-19 Program Protocols.
Should you need to depart Outward Bound due to a positive COVID-19 test result or other illness symptoms:
YOUTH (Course Age Ranges 14-18): coordinate travel with a parent, family member or other trusted adult.
Please reference the CDC recommendations for Protecting Yourself When Using Transportation and Considerations for Travelers.
Airfare, related travel costs, and non-refundable tuition payments are expensive. Insurance to protect your trip and course is not required but strongly recommended. If you choose not to purchase insurance and cancel your course or leave your course early you will be held to the terms of the Cancellation Policy (See above).
Outward Bound offers an option for insuring these costs from the third-party provider InsureMyTrip through its Academic Explorer Program. This program has coverage options that include your travel costs and the non-refundable tuition costs. A link to that program’s insurance coverage options is above. Alternatively, you may choose to purchase trip related insurance through a different insurance provider. In either case, the amount and type of coverage you choose is your responsibility and must be discussed directly with the provider.
You may also want to consider insurance for the cost of Emergency Evacuation. Health insurance often does not cover the cost of emergency evacuation by air or other means and these costs can be very expensive. North Carolina Outward Bound School will not be financially responsible for these costs in the event that your student requires evacuation.
The Academic Explorer Program offered through InsureMyTrip does not offer coverage for emergency evacuation. You will need to purchase that coverage from a different insurance provider.
Outward Bound makes no representations or warranties about these insurance options or how they handle claims.
HOTELS NEAR THE ASHEVILLE REGIONAL AIRPORT
Prior to booking, conﬁrm any minimum age requirements and availability of shuttle service to/from the airport (if applicable).
If you are traveling by air, be aware of TSA guidelines. To avoid TSA taking items out of your carry-on luggage (like insect repellent and sunscreen), pack these items in your checked luggage or do not exceed size specifications. For more information please visit the TSA website: Transportation Security Administration - Carry-ons
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