Course Number



September 20, 2022 - October 19, 2022

Our Pathfinder expeditions are designed for young adults who are searching for direction.  These 30-day expeditions help students explore their strengths and values, identify future goals and create an action plan for the future. Throughout the course, you’ll participate in life coaching sessions and structured goal-setting activities that help clarify priorities, strengthen character and define a new, self-directed path.



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.>


Occasionally we may also use the Chattooga, New and Nantahala Rivers. You will be using tandem (two person) canoes. Some of the topics you may cover during this portion of the course include:

  • Basic water safety and rescue techniques.
  • Identification and use of paddling equipment.
  • How to work with your paddling partner to successfully negotiate class I - III rapids.
  • Advanced skills including flatwater and whitewater paddling strokes and maneuvers.

It will be necessary for you and your crewmates to perform a rapid swim assessment; as well as a flip and swim (or canoe capsize) assessment in the river. This activity is closely monitored by your instructors and river specialists. It is critical for us to determine your whitewater paddling comfort as you and your crew maneuver challenging rapids. Even if you are a non-swimmer or weak swimmer, you will still participate in this safety assessment. All students will be wearing safety helmets and personal floatation devices (PFDs) during the assessment. Helmets and personal floatation devices (PFDs) are required apparel anytime students are on the water. 

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:

  1. Top-Rope climbing or “top-roping”: A style of rock climbing in which a rope runs from a belayer at the foot of a route through one or more carabineers connected to an anchor system at the top of the route and back down to the climber. The rope is attached to the climber by means of a harness.
  2. Rappelling: A means of controlled descent to lower yourself down a cliff, rock face or some other high location.

You may progress to:

  1. Multi-Pitch Climbing: The ascent of climbing routes with one or more stops at a belay station. Each section of climbing between stops at the belay stations is called a pitch. The lead climber ascends the pitch, placing gear and stopping to anchor themselves to the belay station. Your multi-pitch climb may have up to five pitches and may be graded 5.4 to 5.9. Depending on weather and group dynamics, your crew may have an opportunity to experience a high ropes course.


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.


Participants will also have the opportunity to prepare for the unexpected by earning a Wilderness First Aid certification (WFA). This fast-paced, hands-on training is designed to teach skills to care for those who become ill or injured and are far from definitive medical care. This certification will include classroom lectures and demonstrations, combined with realistic scenarios where mock patients will challenge you to use what you have learned. This certification is offered through a partnership with Landmark Learning, who is an accredited organization. After successfully completing the WFA and Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) certification students are eligible to apply for academic credit for this certification.

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: During your course, you will be backpacking approximately nine to 12 days.


Specifics: Weather permitting, you may spend up to four days rock climbing and rappelling.


Specifics: Weather permitting, you may spend up to four days canoeing on the French Broad or Tuckaseegee Rivers.


For thousands of years, and across many cultures, solitude and reflection in nature have helped young adults to recognize and bring forth their personal gifts. The solo ceremony and rite of passage experience is highlighted on this Pathfinder course to help participants prepare to chart their path and contribute more fully to their communities. Participants return from solo with a new perspective on the parts of themselves they are ready to leave behind and those they want to embrace as they move forward. They return to their crew ready to incorporate their personal learnings into the greater context of community for the final expedition and for life after the course.  On this course, students will participate in a solo progression that includes daily reflection time and a multi-day solo experience. 

Solo typically occurs more than halfway through your course and may last up to 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.  


On this course, students have the opportunity to complete 12 or more hours of service in the community. Service projects for this course change to meet the needs of local community partners and may include such activities as trail work, river cleanup, organizing food for the local pantry or other projects. Students should bring any required paperwork to their instructors prior to course start in order to receive credit for service hours.

Background Reading

Here are some books that we encourage you to read as you plan for your course:

  • The Outward Bound Wilderness First-Aid Handbook by Jeff Isaac
  • Leave No Trace: A Practical Guide to the New Wilderness Ethic by Annette McGivney
  • Knots & Ropes for Climbers by Duane Raleigh and Mike Clelland
  • The Outward Bound Backpacker's Handbook by Glenn Randall
  • The Outward Bound Map & Compass Handbook by Glenn Randall
Tuition & Payment
Please refer to your Applicant Portal to confirm your balance and make payment. 
If you are unsure of your balance due, please call 1-800-878-5258 or email

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. 


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.

*Due to COVID-19, participants will have physically distanced sleeping arrangements. For courses longer than 7 days, sleeping arrangements may be adjusted after week 1, based on receipt of negative test results from day 1 testing.


Sample Course Itinerary
This is only a SAMPLE itinerary only. Adjustments will be made due to weather, programming area availability and group dynamics.
DAY 1: Course start
DAY 2: Ropes course and team-building initiatives
DAY 3-6: Backpacking training expedition: navigation and camping skills, exploration of personal strengths, first coaching session introduction to goal setting
DAY 7-9: Rock climbing, belaying, rappelling and multi-pitch climbing
DAY 10-13: Backpacking main expedition: advanced navigation and group decision-making, second coaching session
DAY 14-16: Wilderness First Aid certification
DAY 17: Service project: trail-building or work with community service organization
DAY 18-21: Whitewater canoeing: paddle strokes, boat maneuvers, rapid scouting, self-rescue
DAY 22-25: Solo, third coaching session, goal setting for post-course
DAY 26-28: Backpacking final expedition: leadership and independent student travel
DAY 29: Personal challenge event; clean and de-issue gear; Support phone calls; Graduation Ceremony
DAY 30: Course end and transportation to the airport
Goal Setting

Prior to the course, you will identify a member of your support system (parent, friend, coach, teacher, etc.) who can help you stay committed to your goals after the course.  Prior to completion of the course, you have the opportunity to participate in a phone call with this individual to give them insight into your experience, share the goals you have identified, and discuss how your newfound knowledge will transfer back to your daily life.