Backpack with fellow veterans through the rugged and unforgettable Mojave Desert on this 6-day journey.
Desert life provides the opportunity for you to find challenge, purpose and camaraderie while discovering new ways to connect to service in civilian life. This week-long course is designed for all levels of backpacking experience as you explore some of the most iconic desert wilderness in the United States and backpack through the vast expanses of the Mojave Desert. The ruggedly beautiful Joshua Tree National Park receives more than a million visitors each year, but only a handful of those venture more than a mile from the parking lot. With this up-close view, you’ll travel through the rich ecosystem of birds and animals beside the parks’ namesake Joshua Tree, cholla cactus and palms. Along the way, the group will take time to reflect, relate and support one another as you swap stories and take turns leading the group down the trail, cook backcountry meals and set up camp under the bright starry night sky of Joshua Tree.
NOTE: Outward Bound strongly recommends that all students be vaccinated against COVID-19 and up to date as defined by the CDC prior to arriving to their course start. For all open enrollment courses beginning on or after April 15, 2023, Outward Bound will no longer require students to be vaccinated against COVID-19. For questions regarding this policy please see this page or call us at 866-467-7651.
For detailed information on course availability statuses and what they mean,
Thank you for your interest in Outward Bound!
This course starts within the next week. Please call us at 866-467-7651 to assess the possibility of applying for this course!
APPLY NOW This means a course has several open spots and is actively processing applications.
APPLY NOW – Almost Full This means there are three or fewer currently available spots left on a course. To secure your spot click Apply Now to begin an application!
JOIN WAITLIST Once a course has reached capacity, three waitlist positions become available. To join a course’s waitlist, click “Join Waitlist” to begin the application process. A $500 deposit is required. This $500 deposit includes a $150 non-refundable application fee and a $350 tuition payment. The $350 tuition payment is refundable only if you cancel your waitlist application or if an open position does not become available. If a position does become available, the applicant will be applied to the open position and the Application and Cancellation Policies of the Regional Outward Bound School will be followed, including forfeiture of the $500 deposit if you cancel 90 days or less prior to the course start date.
Waitlist applicants are encouraged to complete all required admissions documents while awaiting an open position. Positions may become available up to two weeks prior to the course start date. Applicants may only apply to one course. We recommend applying to a course with open positions instead of a course that is accepting waitlist applications. If you have questions, please call 866-467-7651 to speak with one of our Admissions Advisors.
CALL TO APPLY This means a course is very close to its start date. Although it is unlikely to secure a spot this late, you can call the National Admissions office at 866-467-7651 to discuss your options.
COURSE IS FULL When a course has reached maximum capacity, meaning all spots and the three waitlist spots are occupied, a course will read “Course Is Full.” This means applications are no longer being accepted.
CLOSED As a course nears its start date, the availability status may read “Closed.” In this event, a course roster has been finalized and applications are no longer being accepted or processed.
Arrival, issue gear, hike in and camp in the back-country
Backpacking, learn backcountry skills
Hike to trailhead, clean/de-issue gear, graduation/banquet
Outward Bound Veterans expeditions focus on team camaraderie and the opportune challenges available in nature as tools to build connections and successes beyond military life. These expeditions encourage participants to explore their strengths and bond with fellow veterans in a safe, positive, goal-oriented environment that allows each veteran to apply their service skills in new ways. From carrying heavy packs, moving fatigued muscles and sleeping outside to exerting leadership, communication and decision-making skills, these courses help shape and support the self-confidence and sense of purpose many veterans need to continue serving as leaders in their families, communities and the nation.
Build skills, form connections: Veterans receive hands-on training in wilderness, adaptability and personal leadership skills. As part of an inclusive, supportive crew, they gain added strength in their communication abilities, establish trust and validate experiences with other veterans.
Value strengths and strengthen values: Beyond the structure and discipline of military service, Outward Bound focuses on resiliency, compassion, integrity, inclusion and diversity to help veterans reflect, share insights and experience each moment and triumph with new perspective.
Demonstrate mastery: Mastery is not just about conquering wilderness navigation skills. Reflection and self-awareness are equally vital to a veteran’s Outward Bound experience, equipping every Veteran student with new understanding and possibilities for coping they can use in their day-to-day lives.
What you’ll learn: Veterans return home energized, ready to tap into rediscovered strengths and eager to find new ways to contribute to family, work, community and the world.
Each veteran student returns home from their Outward Bound expedition having discovered more about themselves and what they want to achieve, how to overcome setbacks and, most importantly, how to move forward to reach important new milestones.
Please note: Outward Bound expeditions for Veterans are designed for individuals (who do not already know each other) to come together to form an inclusive crew, work together to overcome adversity, and use the environment they’re in to learn as a team. If you have a group of 3 or more Veterans who already know each other, we have a different experience for that: please contact our National Admissions Office at 866-467-7651 to talk about custom group programs or fill out Custom Programs Form.
This course is designed for those either new to backpacking, or who have some experience and are interested in exploring the desert environment. The wildly beautiful Joshua Tree National Park receives more than a million visitors each year, but only a handful of those venture beyond the parking lot. With this up-close view, participants will see the rich ecosystem of birds and animals beside the parks’ namesake, the Joshua Tree, cactus and palms.
Participants will learn basic backcountry skills such as navigation and how to assess and adapt to varying weather conditions. Student participants on Outward Bound courses share the weight of food and gear carried in backpacks and everyone assists with camp chores such as cooking, cleaning and tarp setup.
Service to others and to the environment are core values of Outward Bound and they are integrated into each course. Participants follow Leave No Trace ethics as part of their service to the environment. Veterans students enhance their already ingrained appreciation of service with multiple small acts of service with and for their crewmates while leading and supporting each other throughout the journey.
Outward Bound courses vary in length from four (4) to 85 days. On shorter courses, participants will receive an introduction to leadership skills, strength of character and a desire to serve while activities fill most of the time and the pace is quick. With longer courses, the same outcomes and benefits are achieved with the opportunity to reach a more profound level of mastery as there are more chances to develop technical skills, receive and implement feedback and further personal development. However many days the expedition lasts, the strength and impact of the experience lasts a lifetime.
Backpacking and wilderness navigation techniques are great practice for the essential skills and habits that help prepare for new challenges at work, home and in the community. Outward Bound expeditions encourage students:
to remain engaged and present, giving every challenge the best effort, even when the goal seems beyond reach.
to form a team and focus on the team effort.
to share responsibilities, communicate and lead. Leadership roles are shared within the group, and responsibilities rotate each day.
to find reserves of tenacity and compassion. Outward Bound courses are designed to expand and stretch your limits so that every expedition is a true accomplishment and a memorable journey.
Welcome to the high desert moonscape, where rugged mountains and desert plateaus were sculpted by wind and rain. Three distinct ecosystems come together to form this land of extremes, melding the dark, cold, starry nights with warm, sandy and boulder-filled days. Participants will travel through granite monoliths and through narrow canyons that have attracted travelers from around the world long before the park became a national park in 1936.
The Mojave Desert’s sunny fall and spring weather is perfect for a week on the trail or basecamping below the next climb. Weather in the park is generally dry and rainfall is sparse, though unpredictable and sometimes persistent thunderstorms do occur. Temperatures can vary, averaging 50 to 80 degrees during the day to a cool 30 degrees at night and potentially hitting 100 degrees early or late in the season.
Travel in the desert takes careful planning to ensure an ample water supply. Logistics staff place water and food caches around the park to enable extended backcountry travel in this unique wilderness.
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