With the beautiful Rocky Mountains as your classroom, you will learn how to lead in the best way – experientially. No experience necessary, as your course is structured to start with the basics of backpacking, backcountry cooking, water purification, setting up shelters, and Leave No Trace ethics. You’ll also learn the skills involved in backcountry traveling by land and by boat. Develop rock climbing skills in an intensive rock camp that includes how to set up anchors, rappel, tie knots, and belay. Throughout the course there will also be lessons on managing group dynamics, assessing risk, problem solving, leadership, and Wilderness First Aid.
As you learn how to lead an expedition from the very beginning, you will learn how to teach these skills as you learn them yourself. You will be able to apply your knowledge and skills at the end of the course through running a three day practicum for local youth. Finally, you will return to the field for a self-directed expedition, called Finals, where you and your crew will lead the way and your Instructors will follow. At the end of course you will receive feedback and assessment of your skills and leadership style. You will return home with an understanding of yourself and how to build a team, skills that will help you as a future outdoor educator or in any other career you choose in the future.
This course is closed for the season. 2021 courses coming soon.
Most College Savings Plans, including the 529 College Savings Plan, may be used to attend an Outward Bound expedition, thanks to a partnership with Western Colorado University. Anyone can register – you do not have to be a current Western Colorado University student. Registration is easy! Click here to learn more.
Are you motivated by the never-ending discovery in the adventure of the outdoors? Are you passionate about sharing knowledge and helping future generations become comfortable and confident appreciators of the natural world and skilled wilderness wanderers? Working as an outdoor educator requires deep technical expertise in outdoor skills alongside hands-on training in the science behind experiential learning and how to create lasting impact for students. Outward Bound leads the outdoor education industry in both areas, providing a coveted foundation to jump-start an outdoor-involved career.
The Outdoor Educator course is the most comprehensive Outward Bound course available, allowing you to work in and through the widest variety of wilderness environments and develop high level skills in each. Beyond preparing you for career opportunities in the outdoor industry, you may also earn academic credit in the field of Recreation and Outdoor Education.
Outward Bound is accredited with the American Gap Association and is the longest running program in this elite group dedicated to providing safe, meaningful and high-caliber educational experiences to students.
Backpackers carry everything they need – food, shelter, clothing and gear – allowing them to go deep into the wilderness where few people go. Students feel a sense of freedom from deadlines and task lists as they grow accustomed to eating when hungry, setting up camp when tired and having complete control over what they accomplish each day. The simplicity of hiking gives students the opportunity to focus both internally on their own thoughts and self-reliance, as well as externally to connect deeply with others as they talk, sing, play games and spend time together without distraction.
This course begins with lessons in basic travel and camping techniques. Along the way, students learn Leave No Trace techniques, map and compass navigation and camp craft as they get a feel for the human and natural history of the area. Students backpack along valleys and long ridges, camp in basins with incredible views, and stop along the way to explore microclimates and alpine ecosystems. Students sleep under the stars, feel the sunshine on their face and maybe watch a few sunsets over the Rocky Mountains’ magical landscape.
The expedition includes at least one peak attempt. Peak attempts are major enterprises and typically require early morning starts and take all day to complete. Weather or other factors including group dynamics and physical ability may preclude even an attempt to ascend a peak.
Each day on the river is spent learning to recognize and navigate various obstacles and hazards in the river and how to anticipate the forces of the current from far enough upstream. Students will work to become a team, coordinating spacing and paddle strokes. They will have an opportunity to be the captain of their raft and practice new skills as they maneuver through rapids and flat-water sections.
In places, the canyon rims rise thousands of feet above the river, enclosing participants in a remote world of rushing water, delicate ecosystems and unbelievable beauty. Most courses get the opportunity to take day hikes away from the river and up to the canyon rim. These hikes provide stunning views, a change of pace and often the chance to see Native American archeological sites, petroglyphs, pictographs and strange but remarkable geological formations.
Rock climbing is the ultimate opportunity to challenge oneself physically, mentally and emotionally. Learning new body mechanics, balance and energy maintenance techniques will help students climb efficiently and unlock the incredible feeling of flowing up a route. There are many ways to climb the same rock, allowing each climber to solve the puzzle in their own way. Students will learn basic climbing techniques, helmet and harness use, climbing commands and belaying, placing gear, setting up top ropes and may have the opportunity to attempt multi-pitch ascents.
Service to others and the environment is a core value of Outward Bound and is integrated into each course. Participants follow Leave No Trace ethics as service to the environment and do acts of service while leading and supporting fellow participants. Designated service projects are coordinated with land managers like the US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and National Park Service to collaborate on land restoration projects. Some projects are more social services based, in which participants may visit a wolf sanctuary or community garden. Students develop a value of service, seeing the impact of their actions firsthand and transfer this desire to serve their communities back home.
On Outdoor Educator courses, the service component includes a 3-day practicum in which students become the Instructors. They will lead a mini-expedition with local youth that may include backpacking, wilderness skills, or rock climbing.
In order for profound learning to take place, there must be time to reflect on the experience. Solo is that opportunity, and that time can range anywhere from 30 minutes to 24 hours or more. Weather and time permitting, the Solo experience provides an important break from the rigors of the expedition and gives students the opportunity to reflect on their experience. Many students use this reflection time to make decisions about their future, journal and enjoy the beauty of their surroundings unencumbered by the constant external stimulation of modern life. The duration of Solo depends on the course length and type, as well as the competency and preparedness of the student group. With all the food, skills and supplies they need, participants are given a secluded spot to reflect alone and are monitored by staff throughout the experience to prioritize safety. Students find that Solo provokes profound and powerful learning in a short period of time and often becomes one of the most memorable parts of their Outward Bound experience.
Whether an 8-day course or an 80-day course, all Outward Bound expeditions are focused on building character and leadership skills. Short courses are a great option for students looking for an introduction to the outdoors or for those who need a quick recharge. On shorter courses, students learn camping and expedition basics, as well as the skills specific to the course activity, such as climbing or rafting. Students get to know fellow crew mates surprisingly well as they share this immersive and intense experience.
On longer courses, Instructors will progressively hand over more of the decision making and leadership of the expedition to students, allowing each person to test the new technical and interpersonal skills learned. On Semester expeditions, students learn advanced technical skills and on some courses, earn certifications. Longer courses give crews the opportunity to get past the “honeymoon” stage where individuals show more of their “real” selves. Through the dynamics of an evolving group setting, students have more freedom to investigate who they are and how they want to develop personally. All along the way, students will experience a wide variety of some of the most beautiful wilderness in the US and the world.
Colorado Rocky Mountains
The Rocky Mountains, one of the most famous mountain ranges in the world, stretch 3,000 miles from Alaska to New Mexico. The Colorado Rocky Mountains has the greatest concentration of high peaks in the lower 48, with hundreds of ‘Thirteeners’ (13,000 plus foot tall mountains), and 54 ‘Fourteeners.’ The state is famous for its abundant wilderness adventure possibilities, from skiing to rock climbing and mountaineering. Colorado courses may take place in The Gore, The Holy Cross, The Sawatch, The Elks, The Sangre de Cristos, the Rawah or the San Juans mountains. Each of these Colorado ranges present unique challenges, but they are all beautiful, wild and rugged. The Colorado Rockies lie within the ancestral lands of the Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱ (Ute), Cheyenne, Eastern Shoshone, Oceti Šakowiŋ (Sioux), Cheyenne, Arapaho, Pueblos, and Jicarillo Apache nations.
In an untamed corner of Wyoming’s Medicine Bow National Forest, the granite jewels of Vedauwoo (pronounced “vee-dah-voo”) beckon rock climbers. This surreal land features phenomenal formations of rock nestled into aspen and pine forests. This is the place to discover the perfect mix of wilderness and classroom, as well as an expansive spectrum of beginner to advanced crack and face climbing. The climbing routes vary in length from 50 feet to 200 feet and provide excellent opportunities for both single- and multi-pitch climbing. Veduawoo lies within the ancestral lands of the Arapaho.
Desolation/Gray/Labyrinth Canyon on the Green River, Utah
Surrounded by the Tavaputs Plateau and bordered by the Uinta and Ouray Reservation on the east, the journey on the Green River begins in Desolation Canyon near Sand Wash. Throughout the canyon, there are spectacular rock formations, Native American archeological sites and abandoned ranches including McPherson Ranch, once frequented by Butch Cassidy's Wild Bunch. The tiered rock walls of Desolation give way to the earthy bluffs of Gray Canyon, creating a striking contrast that characterizes the next 25 miles of the journey.
If you are ready to enroll on a course click the enroll button next to the course you wish to select or you can enroll over the phone by speaking with one of our Admissions Advisors (toll-free) at 866-467-7651.