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Essential Eligibility Criteria

David Morgan

VOBS Essential Eligibility Criteria

Voyageur Outward Bound School (VOBS) backcountry wilderness expeditions range from six days in length to two-month semester programs with the goal of changing lives through challenge and discovery. The wilderness environments in which our expedition based programs take place are challenging, remote and exposed.

The health and safety of our students and staff are a top priority, along with the educative quality of the course experience for all participants. To achieve essential group goals, the individuals on each course must be fully capable of and committed to learning and using wilderness skills, meeting physical and social challenges, and taking care of themselves and each other.

VOBS values diversity and a positive learning environment but does not specialize in experiences for people with disabilities or with significant mental, emotional or behavioral challenges. VOBS instructors are not therapists and are not trained in adaptive wilderness or integrative teaching skills.

The Essential Eligibility Criteria (EEC) is applied to all students on VOBS wilderness expeditions that take place in a backcountry environment. A qualified person meets the general EEC for VOBS and the EEC for the specific program activities and program areas. If an applicant does not meet specific criteria, VOBS might be able to accommodate an applicant, but will not do so if it significantly alters the fundamental nature of the course activity, jeopardizes the health and safety of VOBS students or staff, or places an undue administrative or financial burden on VOBS.

 

General Eligibility Criteria

  • Able to understand verbal and visual instructions individually and in a group setting, and follow such instructions whether supervised or not.
  • Able to comprehend hazards and safety concerns when explained, and to adhere to safety policies and procedures even when instructors are not present.
  • Able to identify and recognize hazards posed by the environment (e.g., steep or uneven terrain, moving water, sun, wind, cold, etc.) and other participants (e.g., fatigue, state of mind and other influencers of judgment and decision making).
  • Able to effectively communicate with others personal distress, injury or need for assistance, and communicate to others any hazards and dangers that they perceive.
  • Able to adapt to the physical and emotional rigors of the expedition, and live in primitive conditions for weeks at a time, often more than a day from advanced medical care.
  • Able to stay properly hydrated and nourished, by day or night, and learn skills for self- care, including proper hygiene and use of clothing and equipment.
  • Learn and then practice Leave No Trace camping and travel techniques.
  • Able to refrain from the use of alcohol, tobacco, controlled substances, and any misuse of prescription or OTC drugs. If using prescription drugs, able to follow correct dosage and usage and keep them in good condition between resupplies (up to eight days) with or without instructor assistance.
  • Able to contribute to a safe social and learning environment and maintain appropriate relationships with other group members and instructors, refrain from sexual activity, harassment and bullying, and all other behavior that disrupts the learning of others or the cohesion of the group.

 

COVID-19 Eligibility Criteria

Updated 6/16/20

  • Participants must obtain an FDA-approved viral test for COVID-19 within 72 hours prior to course start and submit a negative test result to VOBS prior to arriving at course start.
  • Able to minimize any potential exposure to COVID-19 in the three days between testing and course-start day.
  • Able to drive to the course start location and not use any mass transit such as flying or taking a bus.
  • Arrive at course-start neither experiencing nor presenting any signs or symptoms of communicable disease.
  • Able to wear a face cover (such as a mask) when instructed to do so. Masks must cover both the nose and mouth and fasten either at the back of the head or behind the ears.
  • Able to follow instructions for behaviors that reduce the risk of spreading communicable diseases, such as handwashing, coughing into an elbow, and covering nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.

Backpacking Courses

  • Able to carry a backpack weighing 50-60 pounds, approximately one-third of body weight, that will include personal clothing, group food, and equipment.
  • Able to travel each day wearing a loaded backpack over steep and uneven terrain, on and off trail, for over six hours, over six miles and an elevation gain or loss of over 1500 feet, including sections of scrambling (one or both hands needed), and crossing rivers and streams that do not have bridges.

Canoeing Courses

  • Able to wear a Personal Flotation Device (PFD or “life jacket”) correctly, able to maintain a face-up position in water while wearing a PFD, and make progress through the water to shore or a rescue boat.
  • Able to follow instructions immediately upon sudden immersion into cold water, whether the instructions have already been taught or are communicated inthe moment.
  • Able to sit and kneel in a canoe and maintain stability.
  • Able to control a paddle and pull it through the water to steer and move the canoe forward.
  • Able to re-enter a canoe from the water with minimal assistance from others.
  • Able to help carry a 75-pound canoe with or without another person on or off a trail.
  • Able to travel over uneven terrain on and off trail.
  • Resupplies of food may occur depending on course type, route, and pre-arranged logistics. Thus students need to be able to carry gear, food and personal items or personal medications, (such as insulin) needed for that ration period. A limited amount of necessary personal items may be sent in at re-‐

Rock Climbing/High Ropes Elements in Courses

  • Able to wear a climbing harness and helmet correctly.
  • Able to participate in belaying and climbing activities.

Sea Kayaking

  • Able to wear a Personal Flotation Device (PFD or “life jacket”) correctly, able to maintain a face-up position in water while wearing a PFD, and make progress through the water to shore or a rescue boat.
  • Able to follow instructions immediately upon sudden immersion into cold water, whether the instructions have already been taught or are communicated inthe moment.
  • Able to enter a kayak cockpit easily, and execute a wet exit in the event of a capsize.
  • Able to sit in a kayak and maintain stability.
  • Able to control a paddle and pull it through the water to steer and move the kayak forward.
  • Able to re-enter a kayak from the water with minimal assistance from others.
  • Able to carry a 60-pound kayak with another person

Dogsledding

  • Move on cross country skis or snowshoes over unpacked snow on uneven terrain and ice-covered lakes or rivers.
  • Able to move a load of gear weighing at minimum 50 lbs. by means of sled, backpack or some combination thereof.
  • Able to maneuver in deep snow without skis in five-pound boots (each) over uneven terrain.
  • Able to travel from camp to camp, which may take all day (8+ hours).
  • Able to perform camp chores such as sawing logs, splitting wood and chopping through the ice to locate water.
  • Able to participate in rescues where people have fallen through the ice.
  • Able to learn the commands and techniques of dogsledding.
  • Able to handle dogs, perform daily dog care responsibilities which include feeding, cleaning up sled dog feces and daily check-ins for injuries.
  • Be able to withstand cold temperatures (‐20 degrees F or colder).

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