St. Croix Riverway Canoeing for Families

St. Croix Riverway Canoeing for Families

Growing relationships through shared experiences
This course is perfect for a parent and child (or other familial two-some or three-some) who seek to experience challenge and growth together in a supportive environment.

What an incredible way to learn about your child or your parent! Together, with other families, you will experience all Outward Bound has to offer! You learn to master your paddling skills, cook together, engage in rich conversation and support each other through challenge. The instructors take the role of managing all the details, giving you and your child an opportunity to grow together and learn how each pushes through, supports and achieves. Skills like collaboration, communication, perseverance and compassion will combine to create an experience you and your child will carry forward together.

No previous experience is required. Instructors will teach you everything you need to know to travel comfortably, pack appropriately, load canoes, set up tents or tarps, paddle your canoe, and navigate the St. Croix National and Scenic Riverway.

Course Area

St. Croix National Wild & Scenic Riverway, Wisconsin & Minnesota– This riverway starts as the Namekagon River in Northern Wisconsin and flows into the St. Croix River just north of Danbury, Wisconsin where the river becomes the border between Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Students will paddle together on the upper section of either the Namekagon or St. Croix Rivers. Students will enjoy pristine camping on campsites within this national park.

The entire riverway includes over 200 miles of river travel and many rapids up to Class I or II, depending on water levels. The river section concludes near Minnesota’s Interstate State Park near Taylor’s Falls, Wisconsin.

Interstate State Park contains some of the most outstanding and unique geological features to be found anywhere in the world. The story of how these features came to be as we see them today is complex but fascinating. Interstate State Park is no exception; the story of its formations goes back over a billion years. This makes for an amazing rock climbing experience that will be the last challenge of the course.

Family Expeditions
Outward Bound Family expeditions are once-in-a-lifetime opportunities to experience the great outdoors with the people you love. These eye-opening adventures provide a new and exciting place to bond as a family, improve communication, and cultivate a shared sense of natural wonder as you explore some of the nation’s most pristine wilderness areas together.

  • Build core skills: Learn, practice and refine expedition and personal skills. Faced with demanding natural challenges, discover the strength within each family member – but also the power of working together.
  • 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 – as individuals and as a family unit.
  • Demonstrate mastery: As the course nears the end, Instructors transfer leadership responsibilities to crew members so they may apply skills, make group decisions and celebrate successes as a family.
  • What you’ll learn: Return home with wilderness skills, conflict resolution strategies, compassion for others, and the ability to work together as a highly-functioning, collaborative family unit.

Listed below are a few of the activities:


Families will travel on the river in two-person canoes and will learn to maneuver their canoes through Class I or II rapids.

After lessons in basic river travel, students progress to learning about “reading” currents, anticipating obstacles, scouting rapids, and working as an effective team to negotiate technical portions of the river.

Students will also learn about river hydrology, swimming in moving water, paddle techniques, and the importance of Leave No Trace® practices when camping and traveling.

Solo or Duo

Weather and time permitting, a two to four hour 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 journal, or write letters to friends and family. While students spend the majority of their Solo time alone it is perfectly feasible for parents and children to have a shared experience and deepen their relationships quietly amongst themselves. Instructors do check on each student as often as needed, to ensure that each student feels safe and comfortable.

Instructors choose Solo sites to offer as much solitude as possible while retaining some proximity to the group.

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.

Rock Climbing Final Challenge Event

We typically end our courses with a Final Challenge Event—an individual final physical push.

This course’s final challenge event will be to rock climb at Taylors Falls. The St. Croix River and geological formations that are over a billion years old provide the backdrop for this amazing climb. This experience will give students an understanding of the power of water as it worked for millions of years to create this beautiful rock-climbing site. Students will set goals and support one another on their final course push.

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.

Family Only

Dates Days Age Tuition Course #
8/7/16 – 8/13/16 7 12+ $1735 p/p VTFC-621

Family Courses with Outward Bound

Courses fill quickly! Speak with a Course Advisor today! : Error

Sorry, we’re having a technical issue.

Try refreshing the page. If the problem persists, please email us at

Thank you for your patience.