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|Remaining Balance Due*:||$6,895.00|
Big Bend region, Texas
The Texas course area, one of the most remote and geologically interesting in the Outward Bound system, lies along the US-Mexico border in southwestern Texas. The Rio Grande River carves a huge sweeping bend through the area earning its namesake, Big Bend National Park. This 750,000-square acre wilderness is an ideal setting for desert backpacking, canyoneering and rock climbing. Delicate desert flowers exist alongside fossilized trees millions of years old, mountain passes give way to steep-walled canyons and cliffs.
The Chihuahuan Desert of Texas is usually dry, warm during the day and cool at night. Students may encounter hot sun or a snow shower. Desert temperatures vary widely. Night temperatures are often cooler, averaging 20 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit.
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.
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.
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.
Rio Grande Canoeing - After learning basic whitewater strokes in calm currents, students begin the expedition. The group will spend five to six days traveling downriver through sections of calm currents and whitewater. The whitewater of the Rio Grande offers beginning paddlers a progressive challenge, and a perfect place to learn and hone skills.
When the group reaches a set of rapids, the group will stop to read the current, deciding whether to run the rapids or portage around, examining the river for obstacles and current patterns. As a group, you'll decide the best route, and then plan and assign roles for a river safety system. While two paddlers maneuver a canoe through the rapids, other group members observe, ready to activate the safety system and paddle after floating gear, should a canoe dump or tip over.
Course End – All courses end with a shower, graduation ceremony and celebration dinner. Shower facilities are available at the basecamp.
Family Conversation - Outward Bound contacts parents at various times throughout the expedition to share updates about the group’s experience and how individual students are progressing. Towards the end of the course, after students have completed the expedition and returned to the basecamp, Instructors schedule a phone call with each family. The call will include a conversation between one instructor and the student’s parents and is an opportunity for parents to learn more about their child’s Outward Bound experience, where he/she struggled and thrived, and how he/she is preparing to return home. After that is a conversation between the student and his/her parents facilitated by the Instructor. Outward Bound students often experience considerable growth and development in a short period of time during their expeditions. The Pathfinder phone conference is an effort to equip families with the tools and vocabulary to sustain this growth and forward momentum after the student leaves Outward Bound.
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, and local land agencies. For the most part, service projects will be done outside, and all service projects will be in a socially distant manner. 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. The PCE usually involves an 8-mile run starting as the sun rises over the mountains in Big Bend Ranch State Park.
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.
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: Meet your group in El Paso then travel in the Outward Bound van to the Outward Bound offices in Redford, TX, tucked between the mountains of Texas and Mexico. The journey takes about 5 hours and meanders through low and high desert grasslands and small towns like Marfa and Presidio. Local families have lived in Redford for centuries and Spanish is more commonly spoken than English. Upon arrival in Redford you’ll meet your Outward Bound Instructors, organize your equipment, eat dinner and sleep in tents on the banks of the Rio Grande.
Day 2-13: Start down Rio Grand and begin the paddling portion of your expedition with an introduction to whitewater paddling session. Gain experience as you paddle down the Rio Grande, taking time to understand each rapid before and after you paddle through it.
Day 14: Spend the day climbing at a gorgeous wilderness rock climbing site.
Days 15-24: Enter the vast expanse of Big Bend National Park and begin backpacking. Learn to set-up camp, cook over camp-stoves, and navigate with a map and compass. During this phase participate in a solo experience, where you will have a small campsite to yourself overnight and the instructors will check on you periodically.
Days 24-26: Begin the final phase of the expedition. Work with your group to navigate to the course-end location with less oversight from your Instructors.
Day 27: Participate in a community service project.
Day 28: Participate in a facilitated phone conversation with your family
Day 29: Start the morning with the Personal Challenge Event. Clean-up your expedition equipment, shower, and attend a graduation ceremony before enjoying a final banquet celebration.
Day 30: Eat an early breakfast and depart for the airport to travel home.
Pathfinder expeditions are a part of our Gap Year /Semester program, designed and facilitated with very specific goals and outcomes in mind that can be achieved on 30-day expeditions. Pathfinder courses seek to give students a better understanding of where they are in life, what they desire and value, and how to move forward in a direction aligned with those desires and values. Instructors focus on the development of personal character, personal awareness and personal direction and facilitate activities and conversations that help students clarify their values,develop positive leadership skills and set goals for the future.
Although each Outward Bound experience is unique, certain key components are a part of every Pathfinder 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 nears the end, instructors may gradually transfer leadership responsibilities to the students, culminating with a Final Expedition. During the Final Expedition, students work as a team and apply the skills they have acquired to solve problems and make group decisions, but also reflect on how they can actualize Outward Bound values, reinforce leadership potential, utilize self-awareness techniques and achieve personal goals in their everyday life and future.
The expedition phase of an Outward Bound Pathfinder course is designed to focus on:
Participants at the end of the course will have completed:
In Texas the temperatures vary between 15-70 degrees during the winter. Typically there will be little to no rainfall during the desert portion of your course, though an occasional storm will happen. You may encounter hot sun or even a brief snow storm!
In Texas the temperatures vary between 35-95 degrees during the fall. Typically there will be little to no rainfall during the desert portion of your course, though an occasional storm will happen.
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.
*If you have received a COVID-19 vaccine you still need to adhere to all COVID-19 safety practices.
This page houses information about pre-course policies/expectations, testing and travel guidelines, and on-course policies.
If you have a question about anything related to COVID-19- look here! The answer is probably included on this page. If you cannot find an answer to your question on this page please reach out to your Course Advisor.
Check out this table of information about required and recommended COVID tests:
Testing timeline example: If your course starts on 2/4/21 then your 3-day prior test should be completed on 2/1/21.
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