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Canadian Border Canoeing

Portage and camp in the spirit of the French-Canadian Voyageurs of 200 years ago.
The Canadian Border Canoeing course allows you to venture deep into remote wilderness areas to experience the intimate and awesome power of expeditionary canoeing via the Border Route. With over 1,200 miles of canoe routes along a 150 mile stretch of pristine border country you will canoe, portage and camp in the spirit of the French-Canadian Voyageurs of 200 years ago.

Seasoned paddlers are challenged to learn and master new techniques while those without prior experience progress experientially to gain paddling competence and confidence.

During the expedition you will live simply, practicing low-impact wilderness travel and Leave No Trace® outdoor ethics that promote conservation and sustainability. Additionally, students will participate in a backcountry or community service project, adding an additional level of stewardship to the experience.

The extended course length provides a stimulating exercise in perseverance, support, and camaraderie. The memories made and lessons learned in this ruggedly beautiful environment will last a lifetime.

Course Area

Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Minnesota
Established in 1964, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) is a labyrinth of lakes and rocks that has been specifically protected as a true American wilderness; no roads, power lines, or motorized craft may enter its borders; therefore the Boundary Waters has changed little since its unveiling when the glaciers melted 10,000 years ago. Over 1 million acres in size, the BWCAW extends nearly 150 miles along the Canadian border. With over 1,200 miles of canoe routes, nearly 2,200 designated campsites and more than 1,000 lakes and streams, the BWCAW is an amazing place to experience the wilderness.

The BWCAW contains portage-linked lakes and streams, interspersed with islands, forests and crags. It has no piped water, prepared shelters or signs to point the way. Within these borders you can canoe, portage and camp in the spirit of the French-Canadian Voyageurs of 200 years ago. The Boundary Waters’ 1,200 miles of paddling routes offer outstanding opportunities for solitude, remoteness, teamwork, adventure, and challenge.

Adult Courses
Unplug from electronic devices and plug into the fundamentals of the natural world on an Adult expedition with Outward Bound. Acquire essential outdoor skills and experience rugged wilderness adventures as skilled Instructors urge you to surpass expectations and realize “there is more in you than you know.” With physical challenge, time for rest and reflection and conversations dedicated to evaluating life priorities, our adult courses are refreshing, reaffirming and rejuvenating.

  • Build core skills: Receive hands-on training in technical and interpersonal skills as part of a diverse and supportive adult crew. Confront new challenges and re-discover your inner strength.
  • Practice Outward Bound values: Learn to incorporate core values like compassion, integrity, excellence and diversity and inclusion into your daily life on course.
  • Demonstrate mastery: As the course nears the end, Instructors transfer leadership responsibilities to the students. As a crew, apply new skills and work together to achieve team goals.
  • What you’ll learn: Return to home, work and family with a refreshed outlook, renewed confidence in your own abilities, and the satisfaction of challenges met and overcome.


Listed below are a few of the activities:

Canoeing

As part of your course, you will complete an extended canoe expedition that is entirely self-supported. This expedition includes learning the art of paddling a canoe in a variety of conditions as well as portaging, map and compass reading, route finding, expedition planning, and Leave No Trace® wilderness living principles. Paddling partners work together to navigate a variety of waterways such as lakes, rivers, and swamps.

Portaging

Groups work as a team to carry packs and canoes over portage trails when transitioning from one lake to another or around challenging rapids. Portage trails are rugged and often rocky or hilly. They vary in length from 10 yards to a mile or longer. Pack weights vary depending on the length of the trip. Personal packs weigh at least 40 pounds and sometimes considerably more; food and equipment packs usually weigh between 50 and 70 pounds.

Each 75-pound canoe is carried upside down on one person’s shoulders by utilizing the pads attached to the center thwart.

Rock Climbing & High Ropes Course

Regardless of a student’s rock climbing background, they are sure to find a route that will engage them and encourage the expansion of their comfort zone.

Students learn about general rock-climbing equipment, safety, and etiquette before learning how to belay. The half day of rock climbing provides ample opportunities to climb, belay, and rappel over the edge while safely descending to the base of majestic rock.

Looking out over the top of the boreal forest, the High Ropes Course is an incredible obstacle course set 30-feet in the air. Students will swing from Tarzan ropes, walk on tightrope wires, and climb a cargo net before jumping on the zip line for an exhilarating ride back to solid ground.

Whitewater Canoeing and Kayaking

The program offers paddlers the opportunity to increase their skill and knowledge of whitewater paddling in small currents to progressively more challenging whitewater (Class III rapids) conditions. Emphasis is placed on greater boat control, safety, and the thrill of whitewater paddling.

One day of whitewater canoeing and a half day of whitewater kayaking contribute to the undeniable excitement of running whitewater. Learning to “read” the river to determine the best routes through rushing waters while trusting yourself to make split second decisions add to the exhilaration and jubilation of completing the expedition.

Solo

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 Outward Bound experience. Many students use this reflection time to make significant 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. Students on a Canadian Border Canoeing Course typically experience a 48-72 hour Solo.

Regardless of Solo length, all students receive sufficient food, water, and shelter to keep them safe and healthy during Solo. Instructors choose Solo sites to offer as much solitude as possible while retaining some proximity to the group. While students spend the majority of their Solo time alone, Instructors do check on each student as often as needed, usually 1-4 times per day, to ensure that each student feels safe and comfortable. Solo is purposefully scheduled near the end of the expedition so students have plenty of time to acclimate to their new environment beforehand.

Students may have mixed feelings leading up to Solo: nervousness and hesitation regarding the unknown but also excitement to rest, reflect, and test their new skills while alone. 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.

Service

Service is an integral part of the Outward Bound curriculum. We encourage service to the environment in the form of leaving campsites cleaner than we find them and practicing Leave No Trace® ethics throughout the expedition. We coordinate service projects with land managers (US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, local land trusts), select social service agencies (nursing homes, hospitals), and VOBS.

Please submit the Course Inquiry form or call (828) 239-2376 to discuss if this course is right for you.


Visit the Voyageur Outward Bound School frequently asked questions page to learn more about the application process, scholarships, what to expect, how to pack and where your course begins.

Upon enrollment on a Voyageur Outward Bound School course students receive a day-by-day course itinerary, detailed packing list, and detailed arrival and departure information specific to their course.

Scholarship Info

Our Scholarship Program is guided by a single principle: Every person should be given the opportunity to experience adventure and challenge, develop character and compassion, and learn leadership skills and service ethics, regardless of financial ability.

Moreover, we bring together diverse groups of students to instill cultural understanding and teamwork skills that enable them to become principled leaders.

Thanks to generous donations from alumni, parents, corporations, foundations, and others, Outward Bound awards up to $3.7 million in scholarships to 6,000 students each year.

The Voyageur Outward Bound School scholarship program is need-based and in order to be considered, applicants must first enroll on a course, pay a $500 deposit and check a box noting that they are interested in a Scholarship. The deposit payment is applied toward the total cost of the course and includes a $150 enrollment processing fee (usually non-refundable). After the applicant enrolls, a Course Advisor will send them a Scholarship Application along with the other enrollment materials. The applicant is required to submit a copy of their most recent 1040 tax return along with the completed Scholarship Application. The average scholarship is 15-30% off of the posted fee. If the applicant receives an Outward Bound scholarship but it’s not enough for them to participate, Outward Bound will refund their $500 deposit, including the $150 enrollment processing fee.

In some cases, applicants can schedule a payment plan with the Voyageur Outward Bound School rather than paying for the whole course in one lump sum. In cases of payment plans, final balances are due at least 90 days prior to the course-start.

Packing for a Voyageur Outward Bound School course

In general, Outward Bound provides sleeping bags, sleeping mats, rain gear, and all group cooking, camping and traveling equipment. Students need to provide their own clothing, footwear, toiletries and a few other items, like a headlamp and water bottle.

Traveling to and from the Voyageur Outward Bound School

MN Courses:  In most cases, but not all, Voyageur Outward Bound School students meet in the Duluth International Airport baggage claim at 1:00 PM on the first day of the course. Students typically return to the Duluth International Airport around 11:30 AM on the last day of the course and should plan to fly out any time after 1:00 PM to account for check-in and security clearance.

TX Courses:  In most cases, but not all, Voyageur Outward Bound School students arrive in El Paso, TX the day before their course officially begins.  Students spend the night in a local hotel (not included in course-cost) as directed by their Course Advisor. Students typically return to the El Paso International Airport around 1:00 PM on the last day of the course and should plan to fly out any time after 2:00 PM to account for check-in and security clearance.

Explicit travel directions will be shared with you after you enroll on a course.  Students should refrain from making travel plans prior to being approved for their course and receiving travel details for their specific course as the exact details may differ slightly from the directions listed above.

Please submit the Course Inquiry form or call (828) 239-2376 to discuss if this course is right for you.

Dates Days Age Tuition Course #
6/7/16 – 6/28/16 22 18 – 30 $3925 VMCC-651
7/19/16 – 8/9/16 22 18 – 30 $3925 VMCC-653
9/13/16 – 10/4/16 22 18 – 30 $3925 VMCC-655

Spots fill quickly! Reserve a spot and speak with a Course Advisor.

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