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.
We at Outward Bound are pleased that you will be joining us for the Alumni Service Week at Homeplace, our wilderness base near Ely, Minnesota. You will come together with other alumni who are familiar with the Outward Bound challenge for this unique blend of service work and community building.
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 $500 deposit. Please review the Application & Cancellation Policies.
|Remaining Balance Due*:||$-200.00|
This tab houses ALL of the COVID-19 information for your course. Please refer to the following resources and information for any questions you may have about COVID-19 and your course.
VOBS COVID-19 Practices Page This includes all our COVID-19 policies and expectations.
VOBS COVID-19 FAQ's Page If you have a question about anything related to COVID-19 review the FAQ's.
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 1978, 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.
Minnesota’s weather can be unpredictable with a wide range of temperatures. Fall brings red, yellow and bright orange leaves. It is cool and crisp and the forest is filled with peace and quiet. 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.
The Alumni Service Week is not designed as a standard Outward Bound course, but as an opportunity alumni and us to benefit from each other's energy and enthusiasm. Participants will work with Outward Bound staff to prepare for the upcoming season. Work projects might consist of painting, staining, wood chopping, setting up cabins, landscaping, repairing waterfront docks, or repairing and reorganizing the equipment used during the previous season. We may also offer projects tailored to a participant's specific skills, such as computer or kitchen work.
Opportunities for fun are incorporated into the week. Activities might include rock climbing and rappelling, canoeing, an overnight expedition, saunas, or visits to local points of interest such as the International Wolf Center and North American Bear Center. Additionally, opportunities for reflection, renewal, and initiatives may be offered. Participants will have time to interact with the base staff through the various projects and community meals. As alumni, you become part of the community.
Please utilize the resource below to physically and mentally prepare for your course. The more preparation you do, the better your experience will be!
Day 1: The week begins at the Duluth Airport before transporting to the Voyageur Outward Bound School basecamp in northern MN. Meet your Outward Bound liaison, settle into your accommodations, eat dinner and enjoy getting to know the group.
Day 2: Review the list of basecamp service projects with your Outward Bound liaison. Meet current Outward Bound staff, sign-up for tasks and get to work.
Days 3-6: Participate in a variety of optional activities like Voyageur canoe paddling, rock climbing and hiking while also getting work projects done around the basecamp.
Day 7: Finish up work projects and enjoy a final banquet celebration.
Day 8: Eat an early breakfast and depart for the airport to travel home.
COURSE PAPERWORK: If you've enrolled on this course you should've received an email from your Course Advisor within 2 business days. That email asks you to complete some medical and liability paperwork and return it to your Course Advisor by specific due dates. In order to participate on an Outward Bound course you must submit all of this required paperwork and, if applicable, be interviewed by your Course Advisor by the listed due dates.
Refer to your Registration Email to determine what paperwork is required and when it is due.
All applicants must adhere to the due dates listed in their Registration Email for payments and forms. If due dates are not met, you risk losing your position on the course as well as your deposit.
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 the Required Clothing and Gear 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
2 Washable Cloth Masks- Must cover nose and mouth, and be secured either around the back of the head or behind the ears. These masks will be worn at different times throughout the course to mitigate the spread of communicable diseases. This is a required item. Please talk with your Course Advisor if you have any questions. See more detailed mask info here: Mask Information
Toiletries and 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.
Some 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.
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 service week or you think they will be of great assistance to you during your stay.
Location: Duluth International Airport.
VOBS staff will meet students in the baggage claim area. The Duluth airport is very small, so our staff will be easy to find.
Time: No later than 1:00 PM
*If you're arriving by car, and you can get there early, please try to arrive between 10:30 - 11:30 AM. This will help us get you checked in and avoid a rush right at 1:00 PM.
If you cannot find a flight that arrives in Duluth by 1:00 PM on your course start day, you will need to arrive the night before and stay in Duluth. Please see the Pre & Post Course Accommodations Tab for information about hotels in Duluth. If you arrive the night before, you will still meet the group at the airport by 1:00 PM on your course start day.
*Throughout 2021 and into 2022 we have found that there are fewer flight options overall, and far fewer connecting flights into Duluth, MN. Many families have had a more positive and stress-free travel experience if they arrive the day before the course, spend the night in Duluth, and meet the group at the airport the next day. While not required, this can be a nice option to consider as you make your travel plans.
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 plan with you.
Students will be transported back to Duluth, Minnesota at the end of their course. If you are picking up your student you can meet them at the Duluth International Airport between 11 AM and 12 PM.
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. Hotels may or may not offer a shuttle to the airport. If not, students can take an Uber between the airport and the hotel.
Days Inn and Suites. Can accommodate 18+ students, no minors. Students must have credit card in hand when they arrive to complete the payment.
909 Cottonwood Ave. Duluth, MN
218-727-3110 - Call this direct line to make reservations. If you are staying between November and May they will offer a special VOBS rate.
AmericInn by Wyndam Duluth. Can accommodate minors with parents' authorization.
901 Joshua Ave. Duluth, MN
218-723-8607 - Call to make reservations. A VOBS discount may be available depending on the time of year.
If you are over 21 years old there are many other hotels near the Duluth airport that are available to you.
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.
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.
Please follow this link to read VOBS' Essential Eligibility Criteria.
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 areas 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 the information provided below.
Lyme disease is the most common tick-borne disease, but is not the only risk. Some of the other common tick-borne diseases reported 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!
*Lyme Disease Incidence Rates by State 2010- 2019 http://www.cdc.gov/lyme/stats/chartstables/incidencebystate.html
You should include this with your child if it is on the course packing list. Insect repellent containing DEET will also be supplied on all courses where there is a significant chance of vector-borne illness transmission.
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.
There are other vectors in addition to ticks that inhabit the areas VOBS travels in, mainly mosquitos. Some vectors may be capable of transmitting West Nile Virus, LaCrosse Encephalitis, Jamestown Canyon Virus, Lyme’s disease, Anaplasmosis, Babesiosis, Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, Ehrlichiosis, Powassan Virus, Tularemia, and Swimmer’s Itch.
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.