Pathfinder Boundary Waters Dog Sledding & Cross Country Skiing
More than just an opportunity for skill development, this 30-day dog sledding and cross country skiing expedition develops a sense of confidence, independence and pride in your abilities.
Over 10,000 years ago, continental-sized glaciers scraped their way across much of Ontario and northern Minnesota leaving deep ruts, ravines, and holes in their tracks. Eventually, as the glaciers melted, these ravines filled with water, creating a seemingly endless interconnected web of lakes and rivers.
In 1964, the United States designated over 1-million acres of this Northern Minnesota landscape as a protected wilderness area called the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW). Because no roads, power lines, or motorized craft may enter its borders, the BWCAW has remained relatively unchanged since the glaciers receded. The BWCAW extends nearly 150 miles along the Canadian border and encompasses more than 1,000 lakes and rivers. Over 1,200 miles of canoe routes lead to over 2,200 campsites and provide an unparalleled opportunity to canoe expedition.
In the winter, the BWCAW transforms into an even more severe and remote wilderness. While more difficult, winter enthusiasts’ travel over frozen lakes and rivers by dogsled, cross-country ski and snowshoe. Winter in the Boundary Waters is mesmerizing, peaceful, and exhilarating. It is a place of spectacular extremes, trackless snow, bracing cold air, glowing warm embers, and powerful silence.
Our Pathfinder expeditions are designed for young adults who are recent high school graduates, college students, or young adults seeking personal, educational, or professional direction. Throughout these 30-day expeditions, students focus on increasing self-knowledge, clarifying values, strengthening decision-making skills and processes, and setting goals – all life skills to help chart a path toward independence with confidence and passion.
- Build core skills: Receive hands-on training on the skills and self-awareness you’ll need to tackle the challenges ahead. Your crew, comprised of individuals with diverse skill levels and backgrounds, will support you – and encourage you to try new approaches and explore new roles.
- Practice Outward Bound values: Learn to incorporate Outward Bound values into everyday life by pushing your own limits and seeking challenge as an opportunity for personal growth.
- Demonstrate mastery: As the course nears the end, students take on more leadership and decision-making responsibilities. Work together with your crew to apply new skills and achieve team goals during this final phase.
- What you’ll learn: Return home with an action plan for the future and the confidence to make it happen. With newfound leadership potential, self-awareness, and problem-solving skills, you’ll be ready for your next big step.
Listed below are a few of the activities:
During a Voyageur Outward Bound School Dogsledding and Skiing expedition, students travel over frozen lakes and rivers while learning how to manage teams of huskies, cross-country ski, navigate with a map and compass, check ice-conditions, process firewood, and generally stay comfortable in potentially sub-zero temperatures.
The group usually consists of 9 people, 7 students and 2 Instructors, and splits into two smaller groups each day. Half the group travels on cross-country skis and is responsible for breaking trail, navigating, scouting for hazards, and checking for safe ice conditions. The other half of the group follows on dogsleds, transporting most of the equipment, and food. Mushing is not a passenger sport and, depending on the snow conditions, often requires mushers to push the sled or run and walk along with the dogs. If the skiing group encounters particularly rough terrain or steep hills, they wait for the mushers to arrive and help maneuver the heavy dogsleds. Groups travel during the day and look for an appropriate camping spot each evening.
The second call is a conversation between the student and his/her parents facilitated by the Instructor. Outward Bound students often experience considerable growth and development in a short period of time during their expeditions. The Pathfinder phone conference is an effort to equip families with the tools and vocabulary to sustain this growth and forward momentum after the student leaves Outward Bound.
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 whole 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. Instructors work with each student individually to structure a successful, unique Solo experience that meets their specific needs. Solo is purposefully scheduled near the end of the expedition so students have plenty of time to acclimate to their new environments beforehand.
Students often have mixed feelings leading up to Solo. Inevitably, students feel some nervousness and hesitation but are also excited to rest, reflect and test their new skills after spending many days in the wilderness. Students often find that Solo provokes profound and powerful learning in a short period of time and Solo often becomes one of the most memorable parts of their Outward Bound experience.
Some Outward Bound Family expeditions offer Duo experiences, rather than Solos, to allow parents and children to have a shared experience and deepen their relationships.
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.
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.
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.
|2.25.17 – 3.26.17||30||18-25||$5795||VMPD-761|
|2.17.18 – 3.18.18||30||18-25||$5795||VMPD-861|
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