COURSE OVERVIEW

Course Number

NEVC-927

Date

December 28, 2019 - January 02, 2020

FLORIDA CANOEING FOR VETERANS

For over 30 years, Outward Bound has run wilderness expeditions specially designed for war veterans and service members. Outward Bound draws on the healing benefit of teamwork, challenge, friendship and the natural world. These courses provide a unique opportunity for self-discovery that can help veterans with their transitions back into civilian life. 

Location

TEN THOUSAND ISLANDS, FL

Participants will paddle through lush mangrove tunnels in a land of contrast: between tropic and semi-tropic, land and sea, and salt and fresh water as they learn to work together to read tide charts, explore unique ecosystems, cook and set-up camp on white sandy beaches under the stars and paddle to new areas each day. Participants will also learn about what makes the Ten Thousand Islands famous worldwide, the environmental value the area adds, and how we can better take care of it. <Click to learn more about this course area.>

Activities

CANOEING

You can expect to spend a good deal of time each day in canoes. You will be in a tandem canoe, which means there are two participants per canoe. Depending on the wind and weather, the level of difficulty will vary day to day. You and your crewmates will learn or practice:

  • expedition risk assessment and management
  • route planning and navigation
  • paddle strokes and techniques for propulsion and steering
  • canoe-based assisted rescues and self-rescues.
  • canoe expedition equipment use, care and maintenance.
  • how to work with your paddling partner

It will be necessary for you and your crewmates to perform a swim assessment; as well as a flip and swim assessment as practice for paddling and self-rescue. This activity is closely monitored by your instructors. It is critical for us to determine your paddling comfort as you and your crew explore the area. Even if you are a non-swimmer or weak swimmer, you will still participate in this safety assessment. All students will be wearing personal flotation devices (PFDs) during the assessment. Personal flotation devices (PFDs) are required apparel anytime students are on the water.

FINAL CHALLENGE EVENT

At the end of your course, you may participate in a final challenge event. This is an opportunity to see how much your skills have improved since you began your course.

SOLO - SELF REFLECTION

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.  

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
  • Liquid Land by Ted Levin
  • Ten Thousand Islands by Randy Wayne Wright
  • The Swamp by Michael Grunwald
  • Stolen Water by W. Hodding Carter
Shelter

While in the Everglades/Ten Thousand Islands, you may be sleeping on the beach in tents with up to four other participants or on camping platforms in a personal bug tent. You will also be given a ground sheet and a foam sleeping pad to place under your sleeping bag.

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. Load canoes. Learn: Paddle strokes, rescue skills and marine environment camping skills.
DAY 2: Canoe expedition through mangrove tunnels. Practice navigation skills. Everglades natural history lesson.
DAY 3: Canoe expedition through tidal bays: use tidal charts and flow workshop. Beach campfire.
DAY 4: Canoe expedition to island in the Gulf of Mexico. Solo/Reflection Activity.
DAY 5: Final expedition with night paddle to basecamp. Closing ceremony.
DAY 6: Course end. Transportation to the airport.