Risk Management

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.


Evaluation and Surveys

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.

Essential Eligibility Criteria

Please follow this link to read VOBS' Essential Eligibility Criteria

Emergency Communication

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.

Admissions and Cancellation Policies

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.