Intercept Boundary Waters Canoeing

This 28-day canoeing course consists of a three-week canoeing expedition and a one-week transition phase with a family conference.
Designed specifically to help families rebuild strong, healthy family relationships in an awe-inspiring true American wilderness, this expedition is geared towards teens who are struggling with low self-image, engaging in potentially risky behaviors, not living up to their potential and making poor decisions.

During the expedition, instructors facilitate activities that focus on building teamwork skills, making better decisions and considering the relationship between freedom and responsibilities at home. The goal is to help each student find the leader within themselves. At the end of the wilderness expedition there is an intensive family conference and workshop that helps families leverage the experience into a model for everyday life. Students and their families walk away with a new outlook, a new plan and a new optimism for success.

This Intercept expedition also includes two days of community service at locations such as a local CSA farm, Habitat for Humanity or the Salvation Army.

The Boundary Waters courses have low student/staff ratios, seven or fewer students with two instructors allowing for more individualized attention and focus.

Course Area

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.

Is this program a good fit?

Outward Bound Struggling Teens & Young Adults Expeditions are highly effective programs for individuals who exhibit:

  • Anger issues
  • Low motivation
  • Chronically poor school performance
  • Defiance
  • Risky behavior issues

Struggling Teens & Young Adults Expeditions are not for teens with a history of violent behavior, recent suicide attempts, serious eating disorders, chemical dependencies, or chronic juvenile offenses.

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

Intercept Courses
Outward Bound Intercept expeditions are specifically designed for struggling teens and their families. These highly structured courses remove young people from the pressures and influences of home and school, and present them instead with healthy risks and natural challenges. In a fresh, wilderness environment, students practice new ways of making choices and setting goals.

  • Achievable Goals: Instructors work with individual students (average 1 to 4 Instructor/Student ratio) to make solid self-assessments and set achievable goals.
  • Build core skills: Instructors teach students the skills they need to travel safely through the wilderness. As the group builds competency, they confront obstacles that require real-time, cooperative decision-making and attention to detail.
  • Practice Outward Bound values: Instructors mentor students through the process of self-discovery and encourage appropriate risk-taking and positive approaches to daily challenges.
  • Demonstrate mastery: As the course nears the end, Instructors step back – and allow students to experience the joys and challenges of taking charge.
  • Transfer skills: Students prepare to reunite with families and transfer Outward Bound successes to lives back home. This phase involves two days of volunteer work and culminates with a facilitated conversation between students and their families.
  • What students learn: Equipped with conflict resolution skills, communication strategies and a keen awareness of themselves and others, students are empowered to start on a new path.

The wilderness expedition is followed by a carefully designed curriculum aimed at preparing students to reunite with their families, reengage in their home lives, and transfer their successes at Outward Bound to the challenges they will face in the future.

The post-expedition curriculum includes at least two days of community service and culminates with a facilitated conversation between individual students and their families. This conversation provides a chance for the family to work together to make a plan for the student’s return and for the student to verbalize his or her continued commitment to growth and goals for the future.

Intercept Boundary Waters Canoeing – 28 Day

Dates Days Age Tuition Course #
6.13.17 – 7.10.17 28 14-17 $6895 VMIC-761
6.20.17 – 7.17.17 28 14-17 $6895 VMIC-762
6.27.17 – 7.24.17 28 14-17 $6895 VMIC-764
7.25.17 – 8.21.17 28 14-17 $6895 VMIC-766
8.1.17 – 8.28.17 28 14-17 $6895 VMIC-768
9.12.17 – 10.9.17 28 14-17 $6895 VMIC-769

Girls Only Intercept Boundary Waters Canoeing – 28 Day

Dates Days Age Tuition Course #
6.20.17 – 7.17.17 28 14-17 $6895 VMIC-763
6.27.17 – 7.24.17 28 14-17 $6895 VMIC-765
7.25.17 – 8.21.17 28 14-17 $6895 VMIC-767

Listed below are a few of the activities:


Students complete an extended canoe expedition that is entirely self-supported. This means that the group will bring all of the food and gear that they need in order to live in the backcountry for three weeks. 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.


Participants 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 and 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

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

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

Whitewater Canoeing and Kayaking

This course offers students the opportunity to increase their skill and knowledge of whitewater paddling, progressing from maneuvering in small currents to more challenging rapids (up to Class III). Emphasis is placed on boat control, safety and the thrill of whitewater paddling.

One day of whitewater canoeing and a half day of whitewater kayaking add to the excitement and breadth of your experience. You will learn how to “read” water and trust yourself to make split-second decisions in order to determine the best routes through the rushing waves.


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 is 48-72 hours.

During this phase of course, all students receive sufficient food, water, and shelter to keep them safe and healthy. 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.

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.

High Ropes Course

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.

Personal Challenge Event

Time and weather permitting, Voyageur Outward Bound School courses end with a Personal Challenge Event (PCE), a final individual physical push. In the summer, the PCE usually includes a triathlon-style paddle, portage, and run. In the winter, the PCE involves a distance ski, sauna, and polar plunge.

The PCE is non-competitive. Each student sets his/her own time goal for completion and works toward it to see how their mental and physical stamina has grown as a result of their wilderness expedition. Students celebrate the completion of their wilderness expedition and PCE with a final banquet and graduation ceremony at the basecamp.


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.

Woven within the curriculum fabric are lessons emphasizing compassion and service. Students gain an appreciation and desire to help and understand others without the expectation of personal gain. Additionally, students have a structured opportunity to put giving back into action through 2 days of community service that is an integral part of their course.

We coordinate service projects with land managers (US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, Habitat for Humanity, local land trusts), and select social service agencies (nursing homes, hospitals, and food pantries).

Family Seminar

Your teen has made great strides, learning how to balance freedom and responsibility, how to be part of a team, and how to make good choices and stick by them. They feel good about themselves and life.

But now it’s back to reality. How do you and your teen translate the incredible Intercept experience into lasting positive change?

You as a parent or guardian are a critical link in the success of the Intercept experience for your teen. You will have the opportunity to think through your relationship while they are with us using a provided comprehensive workbook. Then, an intensive two- or three-day seminar helps form and solidifies the path that begins for your family when the Intercept expedition ends.

The next step is the parent conference and debrief. You’ll meet one-on-one with at least one of the expedition instructors to learn how your teen fared on the course. You’ll hear a detailed account of what the course was like, the struggles and success of the group, and how your teen handled the challenges. With the instructor, you’ll prepare for the next day’s meeting with your teen.

Now it’s time to make a plan. Together with an instructor acting as a facilitator, you and your teen will come up with a new agreement to guide life at home. The goal for you is to know that your teen can conduct himself or herself appropriately and to clearly define what you expect. The goal for your teen is to have a say in the direction their life takes and to clearly understand what is required to earn more freedom.

At the end of course, both you and your teen will walk away with a new outlook, a new plan and new optimism for success as a family.

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.

Airlines Unaccompanied Minor service Fees

Please Note: Virtually all airlines, except United and Southwest, require that travelers age 14 or younger flying without a companion over the age of 18 pay for their Unaccompanied Minor service. This fee ranges anywhere from $40 to $75 each way. In most cases, the Unaccompanied Minor service is OPTIONAL for travelers between the ages of 15-17.
Please submit the Course Inquiry form or call (828) 239-2376 to discuss if this course is right for you.
Spots fill quickly! Reserve a spot and speak with a Course Advisor.

FormAssembly.com : Error

Sorry, we’re having a technical issue.

Try refreshing the page. If the problem persists, please email us at support@formassembly.com

Thank you for your patience.