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.>
During this component 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. After practicing these skills, your instructors will step back and let you and your crew work together to collectively navigate through the wilderness. 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 two 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:
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.
Rappelling: A means of controlled descent to lower yourself down a cliff, rock face or some other high location.
HIGH IMPACT ACTIVITY
Specifics: Weather permitting, you may spend one day experiencing a high impact activity. Such an activity may involve a high ropes challenge course, Tyrolean Traverse, or rappel.
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.
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.
Solo typically occurs more than halfway through your course and may last up to 24 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.
Specifics: During your course, you will be backpacking approximately three to four days.
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 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, duffle shuffle, camp craft
DAY 2-3: Backpacking, training expedition, learning navigation and safety skill
DAY 4-5: Rock climbing: climbing, belaying and rappelling
DAY 6: Solo
DAY 7: Backpacking, final expedition, leadership and group independence
DAY 8: Personal challenge event, clean and de-issue gear, graduation ceremony