We look forward to having you on course with us soon! If you have questions about the application process, submitting forms, or anything else, you may contact your student services representative directly, call the Student Services General Line, (828)-239-2376 or email us at, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Designed specifically to help families rebuild strong, healthy family relationships in an awe-inspiring true American wilderness, this expedition is geared towards young adults who are struggling with low self-image, engaging in potentially risky behaviors, not living up to their potential and making poor decisions.
Please have the student's name, course number, course start date and balance due when using this payment option.
In most cases, a $500 deposit has been paid when you applied. Please refer to your Registration Email to confirm your balance*. If you are unsure of your balance due, please call (828)-239-2376 or email email@example.com.
If your payment is not received by the due date listed in your Registration Email, you will risk losing your position on the course and your $500 deposit. Please review the Application & Cancellation Policies.
|Remaining Balance Due*:||$11,995.00|
The Outward Bound School’s Intercept Program provides experiences specifically designed for struggling youth and their families. The program intends to remove students from the pressures and influences of home and school, while presenting them with healthy risks and real life challenges in a highly structured, supportive environment. As a result, students have time to examine the decisions they have been making in their lives and are provided with concrete opportunities to practice new ways of making decisions, setting goals, and connecting decisions with consequences.
Although each Outward Bound experience is unique, certain key components are a part of every Intercept course. Each course begins with a wilderness expedition. Instructors work closely with students to impart the necessary skills to overcome a variety of expedition challenges and mentor them through the process of self-discovery. All of this learning happens in a community environment with fellow expedition members. The idea that students are “crew, not passengers” is central to the Outward Bound learning approach. Wilderness living does not encourage students to contribute to acts of daily life; it requires it. As students learn to cook, care for equipment, stay warm, navigate and plan routes together, they become more aware of one another and how their individual actions affect the group’s ultimate success or failure. As the course progresses, Instructors guide students to understand how their newfound skills can transfer to their lives at home. The expedition focus on community and interpersonal relationships allows students to better connect their Outward Bound experience with their behaviors at home, school, and in society. Through lessons in leadership, communication, conflict-resolution, and judgment, students become empowered with the skills and awareness to start on a new path when they return home.
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.
The expedition phase of an Outward Bound Intercept course is designed to focus on:
Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW)
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 navigable routes lead to over 2,200 campsites and provide an unparalleled opportunity to travel by canoe and dogsled.
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.
Homeplace, Voyageur Outward Bound School Basecamp, Minnesota
Homeplace is located at the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in northern Minnesota. Situated where the Kawishiwi River meets Birch Lake in the Superior National Forest, the Voyageur Outward Bound School basecamp provides an ideal location for launching/ending BWCAW paddling and dogsledding trips, and practicing white water paddling skills. The surrounding boreal forest also makes Homeplace a great location for spotting moose, wolves, beavers, deer, woodpeckers, eagles and black bear.
Border Route Trail, Minnesota
The Border Route Trail offers expansive views across two vast and pristine wilderness areas, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in Minnesota and Quetico Provincal Park in Canada. The trail meanders through dense boreal forest, sustains across awe-inspiring overlooks, and plunges into pristine river valleys. The Border Route Trail was the first long-distance, wilderness backpacking and hiking trail in Minnesota planned and constructed by volunteers. To this day it is maintained by volunteers who return every spring to reclaim the trail from the previous year’s growth. Navigating the route from the edge of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area to its terminus on the shore of Lake Superior requires good map and compass skills. This is a truly rugged and primitive trail, that provides solitude and a true wilderness experience.
Minnesota’s weather can be unpredictable with a wide range of temperatures. Spring is a great time to experience northern Minnesota. It is cool and crisp and the forest is filled with peace and quiet. Spring brings melting ice and dramatic change across the watery landscape. The weather can be unpredictable, ranging from bright sunshine, warm rain or sometimes snow. Average temperatures are cool, but can range from 30-70 degrees Fahrenheit. Evenings can be chilly, but it’s typically sunny and very comfortable during the day. While you may experience the occasional thunderstorm or rain shower, most days are clear and comfortable.
Weather is always a factor when traveling in the wilderness and it adds an exciting element of challenge to each course. Learning to handle varying weather conditions is essential to a successful wilderness course.
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 also vary depending on the length of the trip, and how much personal equipment each group member brings along. Personal packs weigh at least 40 pounds and sometimes considerably more. Food and equipment packs usually weigh between 50 and 70 pounds. Each canoe is outfitted with shoulder pads on the center thwart, and when turned upside down, can be carried on one person’s shoulders. Canoes weigh 75 pounds.
Solo – Weather and time permitting, an Outward Bound Solo experience provides an important break from the rigors of the expedition and gives students the opportunity to reflect on their Outward Bound experience. 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 3-week course typically spend 2-nights on Solo while students on a 1-week course may spend one night or even just a few hours on 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 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.
Rock Climbing – At one or two different points during the expedition, students have the opportunity to climb at a stunning, outdoor rock climbing site. Outward Bound chooses rock climbing sites that provide a number of different route options including cracks, sheer faces, and chimneys. Regardless of a student’s rock climbing background, everyone is sure to find something that will both challenge and encourage them. All Outward Bound rock climbing experiences are heavily supervised and employ safety systems that are compliant with national standards.
During climbing days, students learn about general rock-climbing equipment, safety and etiquette before practicing how to belay. Students have many opportunities to climb, belay, and rappel throughout the day. Rappelling involves stepping over the edge and controlling one’s own descent.
Backpacking – The Border Route Trail is a 65-mile long hiking trail that crosses the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) and follows the border between Minnesota and Ontario. The Border Route Trail is a rugged wilderness hiking trail that offers ridge-line and cliff top views across the BWCAW as well as Quetico Provincal Park in Canada.
On a Voyageur Outward Bound School backpacking expedition, students hike within dense forests, across wide-open ridge-tops and through exquisite canyons, tracing rivers that plummet to Lake Superior. Groups work together to carry everything they need in large backpacks while hiking from campsite to campsite, anywhere from 3 to 10 miles a day, depending on terrain. Groups tend to camp near pristine rivers and lakes each evening to resupply with water. Students learn how to filter and purify their water for drinking and cooking, prepare meals over a fire or stove, set-up shelters and navigate with a map.
Ice Canoeing – During a Voyageur Outward Bound School ice-canoeing expedition, students learn a variety of skills for traversing a landscape that is literally melting away below their feet. By far one of the most unique paddling experiences one could ever hope to experience, students have the opportunity to witness and interact with the changing seasons as the northern winter melts into spring. Students begin the expedition by pulling and pushing their boats like sleds over thick sheets of ice stretching across the wilderness in all directions. As temperatures warm and the ice melts, students paddle narrow channels between shattered ice sheets; A fair amount of time is spent learning how to transition from open water to firm ice and back again as students react to constantly changing conditions. Paddling partners work together to steer and power their boats over, across and through frozen ice, slush, open lakes and rivers, swamps, and portage trails. Traveling anywhere from 2 to 25 miles a day, depending on conditions, groups see their mileage dramatically increase as they encounter more and more open water towards the end of the expedition.
Canoeing – It’s possible to canoe to the Pacific, Arctic and Atlantic oceans from the Voyageur Outward Bound School basecamp in land-locked northern Minnesota. These journeys, which take anywhere from 3 months or longer, always begin in northern Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW); a million-acre protected expanse of interconnected lakes and rivers. It is also one of the most historically significant and remote wilderness areas in North America.
Because all Voyageur Outward Bound School canoeing courses are un-resupplied, groups paddle with absolutely everything they will need for their entire expedition, allowing students to journey deep into the wilderness. This type of extended wilderness experience, along with our highly-trained Instructors, help students develop and refine new expedition skills, cultivate a deep connection with the environment, form meaningful friendships, and develop a better understanding themselves through challenge and discovery.
During a Voyageur Outward Bound School canoeing expedition, students learn a variety of paddling skills to contend with diverse weather and waterway conditions as they canoe from campsite to campsite. Wind speeds tend to increase around noon and sometimes remain strong throughout the day. For this reason, groups will often rise early to take advantage of flat waters in the morning and then enjoy a longer lunch break as they wait for the windiest part of the day to pass. Paddling partners work together to steer and power their boats through rivers, swamps and lakes, usually traveling between 8 and 20 miles a day. Students also learn how to portage, navigate with a map and compass, cook over a fire or stove, and employ Leave No Trace® wilderness ethics.
The North Canoe - These 25-foot long wooden canoes are styled after the traditional Voyageur canoes. These canoes were designed to transport furs and other trade goods across the very same lakes and trails Outward Bound groups travel. Because of their large scale, the North canoe allows the entire group, with all of its gear, to travel together in one boat. These craft are truly a test to any team, requiring all members to paddle, portage, and work together.
Service – Service is an integral part of the Outward Bound curriculum. In addition to practicing Leave No Trace® ethics on all Outward Bound expeditions, Outward Bound also coordinates service projects with land management agencies like the US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, local land trusts, and social service agencies like nursing homes and hospitals. Most Outward Bound students have an opportunity to participate in at least one service project during their course. Intercept courses always include 2-4 days of community service.
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.
High Ropes Course – The Voyageur Outward Bound School High Ropes Course is an incredible obstacle course set 30-feet in the air. Students look out over the top of the boreal forest as they swing from Tarzan ropes, walk on a tight-rope wires, and climb a cargo net before jumping off the zip line for a smooth ride back to solid ground. Most groups have an opportunity to test their nerve on the ropes course if their course incorporates a short stay at the Outward Bound basecamp, usually before or after their field expedition.
Final Expedition – Outward Bound believes that an appropriate amount of independence is a powerful educational tool. In order to deliver that benefit, Outward Bound purposefully and gradually transfers certain leadership responsibilities to the students culminating with our “Final Expedition.” Near the end of course, if you and your group have demonstrated the necessary leadership, team problem-solving and wilderness living skills, you may be given the opportunity to travel without your instructors immediately present. Students on courses designed for ages 16 and older may travel without instructors immediately present (although they will be near the group for safety reasons) for one to five days depending on course length, student age, staff assessment of students’ abilities, and terrain. Many of our students feel this phase of the course is the most rewarding as the group learns to work together, problem solve, and accomplish a goal independently while utilizing all the skills they have acquired.
Family Seminar – A Family Seminar is held at the end of all Intercept courses. Most conferences happen in Duluth or Ely, Minnesota, while some are held over the phone. Outward Bound strongly encourages all parents or guardians who live with the student to attend the Family Seminar, but only one parent/guardian is required to attend.
During the first day of the Family Seminar, parents participate in lectures, interactive lessons and activities, and in-depth conversations with one of their child’s Outward Bound Instructors. The purpose of the first day is to equip parents with a better understanding of their child’s Outward Bound experience, where he/she struggled and thrived, what progress he/she made, and how he/she may struggle after transitioning home. By the end of the day parents have learned the same communication, decision making, and anger management lessons that the Instructor’s taught their child during the expedition, giving families a common vocabulary to use the following day when they reunite.
After families reunite on the second day of the seminar, the student group gives a short presentation about their experience and families participate in some activities together. Individual family conferences are scheduled throughout the afternoon and each family sits down to have a conversation facilitated by one of their Instructors. Families reconnect and make a plan for the student’s transition home.
The Family Seminar culminates with a Graduation Ceremony on the final day of the course and families travel home together.
At least one parent/guardian is required to attend an interactive series of workshops during the last few days of your course. You will not see them when they arrive as you will still be on course. They will be learning a lot of the same tools you will be learning during your course. The purpose of the seminar is three-fold:
The seminar can be emotionally challenging, enlightening and be a great opportunity to renew hope in your future relationship. You will get to see your parents/guardians and have a chance to speak with them about your course and your plans for home on the day before your course ends.
Please download the document below for further details.
Parent Seminar Information
The following is an example of what your course itinerary may look like. Your actual itinerary will vary according to weather, student skills and abilities, and instructor preferences.
Day 1: The course begins at the Duluth Airport before transporting to your first campsite near the Voyageur Outward Bound School basecamp in northern MN. Meet your Outward Bound Instructors, organize your equipment, eat dinner and sleep in tents.
Days 2-12: Enter the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness and begin travelling. Learn to paddle and portage a canoe, set-up camp, and cook over a fire. Travel until it’s time to set-up camp each night and get to know your group around the evening campfire.
Days 13-15: Experience Solo. Take time to rest and reflect at your own little campsite on the shore of a lake. You will not travel during this time and your Instructors will check on you occasionally.
Days 16-20: Begin the final phase of the canoeing expedition. Work with your group to navigate back to the Voyageur Outward Bound School basecamp.
Days 21-25: Return to basecamp for a mix of activities including a service project, advanced white water kayaking, high ropes course, rock climbing and exploration of the “next-steps” in life. Make final preparations for your first family phone conference. Participate in the family phone conference and think about what you’d like to accomplish during the second phase of the semester.
Days 26-28: Learn about North canoe and backpacking expedition equipment. Plan and pack out food for the second expedition. Continue to stay at basecamp each night.
Days 29-34: Learn to paddle, portage, and travel in a North Canoe.
Day 35: Transition from canoeing to backpacking.
Days 36-38: Learn to pack your backpack and navigate using topographical maps and a compass. Hike from campsite to campsite as you refine your wilderness skills.
Days 39-41: Participate in a second Solo experience.
Days 42-44: Begin the final phase of the backpacking expedition. Work with your group to navigate to your pick-up location.
Day 45: Exit the wilderness and spend the day rock climbing and rappelling at a stunning location over Lake Superior before returning to the Voyageur Outward Bound School basecamp.
Day 46: Wrap up the expedition at the Voyageur Outward Bound School basecamp. Participate in the Personal Challenge Event, shower and enjoy sleeping in a bunkhouse at the basecamp.
Day 47: Participate in a community service project in/around Ely.
Day 48: Finish your community service project.
Day 49: Participate with your parents in a family conference facilitated by one of your instructors.
Day 50: Eat an early breakfast, participate in a graduation ceremony, and depart for the airport to travel home with your family.
To participate on Outward Bound, each applicant must submit all requested medical information, the signed liability release form, and be interviewed by a student services representative. You will receive these forms, as well as any additional forms that may be required of you, via email. Refer to your Registration Email for all your paperwork information, including DUE DATES.
Wilderness travel means you can and, for your comfort, should carry a lot less than you do in the regular world. Most experienced wilderness travelers will tell you that they bring about the same amount of gear on a three-day trip as they would on a three-week trip. This packing list has been refined over 50 years of Voyageur Outward Bound School expeditions. Please stick to it closely. It is designed to ensure that you have everything you need to be safe and comfortable during your expedition.
Because our courses are characterized by unpredictable weather, obtaining the proper clothing is crucial. Please bring all the items as described on the "Required Clothing and Gear" list below. You can find these items at camping, outdoor, Army/Navy surplus, and thrift stores. Clothing and gear can be expensive—shop around before you buy and keep these helpful tips in mind:
Your choices should be governed by whether or not the piece of clothing or gear will meet our requirements, not if it is the best looking or newest! Consider leaving the tags on any new items you have purchased and saving the receipts; in the event that an item is not needed for your expedition or you do not use it, you should be able to return it when you get back home.
NOTE: When you arrive for course start, you will not have an opportunity to purchase forgotten items.
If you are looking to shop online, many students use the following websites to find their clothing and gear:
On the first night of the course, your instructors will issue you the equipment provided by Outward Bound and assess all of the clothing/equipment you’ve brought in order to ensure that it meets the requirements of the expedition. You’ll repack exactly what you need into packs provided by Outward Bound. Everything you don’t need during the expedition, including your shower supplies, clean clothes for the trip home, valuables, and electronics will stay in your luggage and be stored in a secure location for the duration of the course. These items will be returned to you at the end of the trip.
Outward Bound will provide you with these items:
You only need to bring what’s on this list, mainly your personal clothing, toiletries, footwear, and a few additional items. We strongly discourage the use of personal camping equipment on Voyageur Outward Bound School courses because of the heavy wear and tear. We feel confident that the equipment we provide will best serve your needs on the expedition; it will keep you safe, warm and dry. If you have questions about using a piece of personal equipment normally provided by Outward Bound, please contact your course advisor to discuss. If you do decide to bring a piece of personal equipment, your instructors reserve the right to inspect it and ensure that it will adequately serve your needs during the expedition. If they do not think it will work, you can leave it with your luggage at the basecamp during the expedition.
Our packing list is based on layering principles; dressing in several light layers rather than one heavy layer allows you more flexibility as the weather and your exertion levels change. When shopping or packing, it is a good idea to try on all of your layers at once to ensure that they fit over one another. Read the information below to get a better idea of what we’re talking about.
Head & Hands
Toiletries & Other Personal Items
Your Camp Shoes are worn each evening and morning at your campsite. They get packed away in a safe spot while you travel so they remain dry. Camp shoes should be lightweight, sturdy running shoes, not sandals. Full coverage shoes are required while you’re cooking and working around the campfire to protect your feet from hot embers and boiling cooking-water.
Voyageur Outward Bound School courses finish with a Challenge Event that often involves a running component, and some groups do morning runs or day hikes. You can use your camp shoes for these events. For this reason, you’ll need sturdy running shoes NOT fashion or skateboarding type sneakers.
Rubber Boots are used on Voyageur Outward Bound School courses in the spring and fall when water temperatures are colder. Rubber boots are used to minimize heat-loss and the possibility of trench-foot during prolonged exposure to water. Your rubber boots should be around 14-16 inches high, fully rubber (no laces, holes, or openings), and waterproof. A gusset and cinch-strap at the top rear is especially helpful on spring courses. They should be sized large enough so that you can fit a wool-liner on the bottom and still wear thick socks. They should not be steel toed or heavily insulated (lightly insulated is fine).
These boots can be found and purchased on the internet or often at your local hardware store, fishing gear store, outdoor store, or farming goods store. Other names for this type of boot include “irrigation boot” or “Wellies” (short for “Wellingtons”) and they should cost no less than $60.
Here is a list of rubber boots that work well on Voyageur Outward Bound School cold-water courses. If you have questions about a boot that’s not listed here, consider the essential requirements – your boots must be fully rubber, 16-18 inches tall (the taller the better), not have laces, a steel toe or thick insulation (minimal insulation is OK). If you still have questions about a boot not listed here, send an email to your Course Advisor for their input; include a link so they can view the boot online.
16” Rubber Boot
18” Rubber Boot
Voyageur Outward Bound courses are rugged and the way you will travel is very unique. Your boots will be one of the most important pieces of equipment that you bring. They will need to be comfortable and perform well in a variety of different environmental settings. Follow the guidelines below to ensure that your boots fit well and meet the course requirements.
Boots must have strong ankle support, a protective sole and the ability to drain water from the inside out. You will portage (carry) your boats and equipment from one lake to another multiple times every day. Trails are wet and rocky. Safely exiting/entering and loading/unloading the canoe is done from ankle to thigh deep water at portage entry/exit locations. Because the underwater terrain is not always visible, it is especially important that your boots provide strong ankle and foot protection.
Your boots will remain wet for most of your canoeing course and proper footcare will become very important. Your instructors will teach you how to take good care of your feet, but everything starts with having the right boots. It is important to allow airflow to your feet. For this reason, avoid all-leather and all-Gore-Tex boots, which trap moisture inside your boot. Some leather and Gore-Tex are OK, and probably unavoidable, but try to minimize them as much as you can. Boots should have as much water-shedding, breathable, mesh material as possible.
If you are participating on a multi-element course with a backpacking component, your boots may or may not dry out from day to day, depending on the weather conditions you encounter.
Here is a list of boots that work well on Voyageur Outward Bound School canoeing and backpacking courses. If you have questions about a boot that’s not listed here, consider the essential requirements – your boots must be sturdy with a strong, protective sole, have full ankle protection (high-top), and allow water to shed/feet to breathe. If you still have questions about a boot not listed here, send an email to your course advisor for their input; include a link so they can view the boot online.
Start by trying on at least two or three different boot options. Put the first choice on one foot and the second choice on the other. Make sure that you’re wearing the same type of wool socks that you plan to wear during the expedition (refer to the packing list for more detail) and fully lace up the boots. Start by standing on a downward slanting slope and try to jam your toes towards the front of the boot. Next, take a walk around the store.
Boots undergo extensive wear and tear during the course and may not be of much use after the course. For this reason, consider a less expensive boot.
Break in your boots before the course begins! Wear them around town, school and at home as much as possible (several weeks). This simple activity cannot be over-emphasized and is one of the easiest and most important steps in preparing for a successful and comfortable wilderness adventure.
None of these items are required and you will be fine without them. Please only buy them if you plan to use them again after your course or you think they will be of great assistance to you during the course. You may be asked to leave these items behind depending on pack-size and weight restrictions.
i-pods, MP3 players, computers, i-pads, and GPS devices?
Cell phones, tablets, GPS devices and all other electronic devices (exception-digital cameras) are not permitted on course. Electronic devices can be distracting and disruptive to the wilderness experience. Stepping away from these devices encourages participants to focus on their experience and their crewmates.
You are, however, more than welcome to travel to and from your course with whatever technology you choose. When you arrive, we’ll have you turn off all electronic devices and leave them in your luggage. Your luggage will then be locked in a secure area during your course. At the end of your course, you’ll get everything back. Additionally, please do not bring any emergency response technology. Your instructors will carry emergency communication devices.
Cameras are welcomed at Voyageur Outward Bound School. We recommended waterproof disposable cameras. If you elect to bring a non-disposable camera, we advise that you store it in a small “dry bag” or plastic zip-lock bag. Our courses are rigorous and there is a risk of losing or damaging your camera.
For digital cameras, we ask that the memory card(s) be blank; please back up your photos and erase your memory cards prior to arriving for course. Cell phone cameras, tablets, and any other Wi-Fi enabled electronic devices with built-in cameras are not permitted on the course.
my cell phone and use it as a camera?
No, if you’d like to take pictures, please bring a camera that does not have cellular capabilities. No cell-phones will be allowed on the expedition.
Unless it’s a natural history identification book, we’d ask you to leave books at home. You’ll be very busy during your expedition and will want to spend your downtime with other group members, sleeping, and just relaxing in nature. Books also get damaged easily. You can bring a book for your travel days but don’t plan to bring it on the expedition.
a pocket knife?
Please do not bring any knives with you to your course-start. Your instructors will provide knives as they are needed throughout the expedition.
my own camping gear (sleeping bag, tent, etc.)?
We strongly discourage the use of personal camping equipment on Voyageur Outward Bound School courses because of the heavy wear and tear. We feel confident that the equipment we provide will best serve your needs on the expedition; it will keep you safe, warm and dry. If you have questions about using a piece of personal equipment normally provided by Outward Bound, please contact your course advisor to discuss. If you do decide to bring a piece of personal equipment, your instructors reserve the right to inspect it and ensure that it will adequately serve your needs during the expedition. If they do not think it will work, you can leave it with your luggage at the basecamp during the expedition.
Each day you will be traveling from campsite to campsite working your way back to the Voyageur Outward Bound School basecamp or your pick-up location. You’ll be very busy with the daily chores of traveling and living in a wilderness setting and there will not be much time for fishing. For this reason, please refrain from bringing any fishing gear. In some cases, your instructors may bring a small amount of fishing equipment so the group might enjoy an occasional shore-lunch of fresh fish.
over the counter medications?
Voyageur Outward Bound School Instructors carry an extensive First-Aid kit with ample supply of over-the-counter medications like pain relievers and antacids, among other supplies. Instructors also carry prescription epinephrine injections in case of an anaphylactic emergency. You shouldn’t need to bring your own OTC medication. However, if you frequently take something specific, please consult your course advisor to discuss whether you should bring it or not.
tobacco, drugs, or alcohol?
Tobacco, drugs, and alcohol are NOT permitted on course, this includes both time spent in the wilderness and at basecamp.
Please also DO NOT bring valuables, jewelry, makeup, candy, gum, or large amounts of money.
Please arrive to the Duluth International Airport by 1:00 PM on the first day of the course. You will meet our staff in the baggage claim area. Look for Outward Bound representatives with Outward Bound signs.
Please eat lunch and make any final phone calls before arriving at the airport. Expect to be at the airport until your whole group has arrived, at which time we will transport you an additional 2-3 hours to your course-start location.
With so many people traveling on the same day, we anticipate some hiccups. If your arrival is delayed, don’t worry too much. Contact our Travel Coordinator and we will do our best to coordinate an alternative pick-up with you.
The Intercept Family Seminar ends in Ely no later than 11:00 AM on the last day of the course. Parents, if you rent a vehicle for the weekend, you can depart any time after 11:00 AM. If you are planning to use the Outward Bound shuttle, we will transport your family back to the Duluth International Airport on the last day of the course, arriving around 2:00 PM. To ensure adequate time to check in and navigate security, please do not book any flights departing before 3:00 PM.
COMMUNICATION WITH YOUR TEEN ON ARRIVAL DAY – It’s a good idea to send a phone with your teen for use during travel days (don’t forget to include a charge cord). All electronics are stored in a secure location during the expedition and will be returned to your teen on departure day.
Please remind your teen to call/text you when they’ve arrived and met the Outward Bound representative. There will be time for this communication. If there are any problems or your teen doesn’t arrive as scheduled, we will contact you right away. Otherwise, no news is good news! Your teen’s course director will accompany your teen’s group to the start of their wilderness expedition and will contact you within 2-3 days to introduce themselves and share an update.
MEALS AND MONEY ON ARRIVAL/DEPARTURE DAYS - Please bring a little cash for meals during your travel days. Outward Bound will provide dinner on the first day, breakfast on the last day, and some snacks on both of these days. There are minimal food options once you exit the security gate at the airport so plan to get something before you arrive or before you exit security. Remember to drink plenty of water throughout travel days!
MEDICATIONS – If you take a prescription medication, please ensure that you have enough to complete the entire course, and bring a back-up set if possible. If you use an inhaler or carry an Epi-pen, please bring 2 sets.
Remember to pack your medications and other important items (contacts, glasses, travel documents, money) in your carry-on luggage in case your checked bag is delayed or lost.
CLOTHING/DRESS ON ARRIVAL DAY – Please arrive at the meeting place already dressed in your expedition clothes. Your boots or tennis shoes, wool socks, quick-dry pants, underwear, t-shirt and warmer long-sleeved layer (accessible) work best on the first day. Please see the provided packing list for further information about appropriate luggage, clothing and layering principles.
If you are unable to arrive by 1:00 PM on the first day of the course, we advise that you arrive a day early. There are multiple hotel options in Duluth near the airport. Below are some of our partner hotels that offer a discount for Outward Bound students. You must call these hotels directly to ask for the Voyageur Outward Bound School discount.
Econo Lodge: 4197 Haines Rd., Duluth (800) 922-0569
Minors welcome - arrange with hotel
No shuttle – must use local taxi service
Country Inn & Suites: 4257 Haines Rd, Duluth (218) 740-4500
Minors welcome – Ages 14 and 15 need prior approval from your course advisor
Free airport shuttle
La Quinta Inn: 1805 Maple Grove Road, Duluth; (218) 722-0700
Minors ages 16 and up welcome
Free airport shuttle
If you stay at the Econo Lodge, we’d be happy to pick you up in the morning on the first day of your course; please indicate you would like pick-up when you complete the travel form provided upon approval. Otherwise, please use the free airport shuttle provided by the Country Inn and La Quinta; you should schedule your airport shuttle when making your hotel reservation.
The Family Seminar will be held at:
Vermillion Community College
1900 East Camp Street
Ely, MN 55731
For further details about booking travel and accommodations, please download the document below.
Family Seminar Information
Please familiarize yourself with the policies outlined in the Policies Page. By enrolling in Outward Bound you are accountable for and subject to the information contained on these pages.
While you do not have to be a gifted athlete or in peak physical condition to attend an Outward Bound course, you do have to prepare for the challenges of Outward Bound.
There are two kinds of strength necessary to complete your course; physical and mental. Your body needs to be strong, but you must also come with an open mind, willing spirit and a cooperative attitude. Whether you paddle a canoe or kayak for six or eight hours, expedition with a 50+ pound pack for 10 miles or mush a dogsled, you will be pushed and rewarded on many levels.
If a student’s family experiences an emergency and needs to contact them while he/she is in the wilderness, the family should contact their designated course director or the emergency response number at 218-491-6799 and listen to the voicemail message for instructions. Each student has a designated course director and their contact information is emailed to the student shortly before the course begins. Students should share these important phone numbers with their family before their course begins.
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
Rock Climbing/High Ropes Elements in Courses
VOBS regularly evaluates its programming. Students may be asked to complete 1-2 surveys at the end of their course to assist us in this evaluation. These surveys may include:
1. We ask all participants to complete an anonymous survey at the end of programming. Participants are asked to answer the survey items and to indicate their race/ethnicity, gender, and birth year. Completing the survey is optional. No identifying information is included as part of the survey or in any reporting. We also ask participants to provide a reflection of their course and other feedback. This information is used by the organization for reporting on program outcomes and for program improvement purposes.
2. Outward Bound is partnering with The PEAR Institute (Partnerships in Education and Resilience) on a research project to promote our students’ positive social-emotional development. As part of this effort, Outward Bound staff may invite you/your child to complete a brief survey at the end of your/their Outward Bound course. The survey includes PEAR’s Holistic Student Assessment (HSA) plus several additional questions about the student’s social-emotional development and experience while on the course. You/your child’s responses will be kept confidential, results will be reported as a group, and names will never be used in any reports related to this research. Data from this survey will be used for research and educational work and only designated Outward Bound staff and Outward Bound’s research partners will have access to the results. For more information, including the opportunity to opt-out of the survey, click on the following link/s to download the English Language, English-Spanish Language, or English-CapeVerdeCreole Language versions of the consent form opt-out and return a signed copy to your Course Advisor.
Students on courses that are 14 days or longer can receive mail. Because students are in the wilderness for most of their expedition, mail is not distributed until the last day of the course. If families need to share important information before the last day of the course, they should contact their course director.
Student Name/Course Number
Voyageur Outward Bound School
PO Box 450
Ely, MN 55731
Tick-borne disease is a risk in the wild areas of northern Minnesota, where VOBS runs the majority of their courses. Fortunately, there are prevention steps that are very effective and, in the case of infection, treatment is relatively simple and recovery complete, so long as the diagnosis is made early. Students and their families should educate themselves on the risks, prevention measures, and signs and symptoms of tick-borne diseases by reading this letter from our Safety Director and the information provided below.
In 2014, the Lyme disease incident rate in Minnesota was .16 per 1,000 people.* Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne disease, but is not the only risk. Some of the other common tick-borne diseases reported in Minnesota include Babesiosis, Ehrlichiosis, Powassan (POW) virus, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Tularemia and Anaplasmosis. There are treatments available for these diseases, but prevention is by far the best and first step!
DO NOT treat base layers (long underwear tops and bottoms for example).
Signs and Symptoms
There are many symptoms associated with tick-borne diseases. Infected people may not have all of these symptoms and many of these symptoms can occur with other diseases as well. Some common symptoms of infection with tick-borne diseases include body/muscle aches, fever, headaches, fatigue, joint pain, rash, stiff neck and facial paralysis. Seek medical attention if signs and symptoms of a tick borne illness appear. Tick-borne diseases are diagnosed based on symptoms and the possibility that the person has been exposed to infected ticks. Most cases can be successfully treated with specific types of antibiotics.
*Lyme Disease Incidence Rates by State 2005- 2014, http://www.cdc.gov/lyme/stats/chartstables/incidencebystate.html
Add-on: $1500 (30 days of post-Intercept support)
If you are interested in purchasing this elective post-Intercept transition support package through PRN, please contact your Outward Bound Course Advisor to receive more information.
PRN for Families, Inc. is collaborating with Outward Bound to provide continuing care and support to all students who are transitioning out of Voyageur Outward Bound’s Intercept program, in conjunction with their families to help sustain and further develop the tools and resources they have gained while participating in Intercept. The initial transition support package is offered for a period of thirty days following the transition home from VOBS. Continuing care packages are also available beyond the initial thirty days at the family’s discretion.
PRN's goal is to understand the needs of the whole family system so that they can customize their support services to best meet those needs. As such, the specific services offered within the support package include a degree of flexibility to allow for customization.
Ideally, PRN for Families will begin its engagement with the family a week prior to transition home from VOBS. At inception, one of PRN's Family Consultants will speak with the student, family and all involved professionals in order to ensure a seamless transition back to home life after Intercept.
From that point forward, the PRN Family Consultant, who is a licensed clinician, serves as the primary point of contact and liaison for the family, coordinates all outreach, networking and support services, provides all written and verbal assessment, recommendations and treatment plan updates, and is available for 24/7 crisis management during the course of PRN’s involvement.
Note: There is a possibility that during the initial transition period, the PRN Family Consultant will assess, in collaboration with other involved professionals, that the needs of the student are greater than the resources available at home. In such a case, a written summary will be provided to the family, and any involved referring professionals, that outlines specific therapeutic recommendations for the student and the family
If you are interested in purchasing this elective post-Intercept transition support package through PRN, please complete the short electronic form on the PRN website or contact the PRN Admissions office at: (888) 762-5973
Safety is our number one priority. At all levels of our school, we demonstrate our dedication to participant safety by our words, actions and values. Outward Bound has been a national leader in wilderness safety for over 50 years and frequently advises and assists other organizations in outdoor adventure risk management. Living and traveling in a remote wilderness setting exposes you to risks different than those you may encounter in your daily life. We believe that accepting appropriate risks and training and preparing participants to manage those risks, provides invaluable life experience.
Regardless of precautionary measures, risk and uncertainty are central to the concept of challenge and adventure. The intent is not to avoid activities involving risk but to recognize, prepare for and successfully manage risk. In order to identify any potential hazards and update best practices, our programs are regularly reviewed by outdoor professionals from inside and outside the Outward Bound system.
Outward Bound instructors receive regular training in the activities and environments in which we deliver our courses. They are trained to anticipate and manage risks inherent in remote areas. They are also trained in first aid, search and rescue and emergency management. Our instructors are certified Wilderness First Responders; some are Wilderness Emergency Medical Technicians or equivalent. Outward Bound maintains a minimum staff-to-student ratio of approximately 1:6. Instructors work in teams of two or three with six to 12 students. Instructor teams are usually co-ed but balancing skills and teaching styles is our primary staffing focus. One instructor in every team is a lead instructor with multiple seasons of training and experience. The lead instructor has single point accountability for the safety and effectiveness of the course in the field as well as mentoring their staffing team.
For more information on our instructors, please check out our staff profiles page or our careers page for instructor requirements. As a participant, you must take responsibility for yourself by following instructions and practicing the skills taught by your instructors.