Intercept FAQ

What are the differences between an Intercept course and a Classic Outward Bound course?

Families tend to find Outward Bound’s Intercept Program when looking to redirect their child before risky behaviors lead to severe, negative life consequences. Some risky or problem behaviors parents often describe include: poor performance at school, lack of motivation, poor decision making, over/misuse of technology, conflict within the family, promiscuity, and/or experimentation with drugs and alcohol.

Being a teen/young adult today is not easy and most young people will probably struggle at some point as they transition to adulthood. So, at what point should you choose the Intercept program over a Classic Outward Bound course? There are three main ways that the Voyageur Outward Bound School assesses an applicant’s appropriateness for an Intercept course vs. a Classic course: the applicant’s motivation to participate, the family’s desired outcomes and the parent’s willingness/ability to be involved throughout the program along with their child.

  1. The typical Intercept applicant is often, not always, less motivated to attend Outward Bound than the typical Classic course applicant. Parents tend to play a larger role in getting an Intercept student signed up for an Outward Bound course. Students who are not intrinsically motivated to participate will not be considered for a Classic course but may still be considered for an Intercept course.
  2. The Intercept program will spend more time addressing each student’s specific problem behaviors and work with them to create short and long term goals to improve their relationships with their family and community at home. Intercept courses provide a higher level of individualized attention.
  3. Intercept courses require parent involvement throughout the course in order to most effectively support the student’s growth, learning and successful transition home after the course. Parents of Intercept students are expected to complete a daily workbook during their child’s course and participate in a 3-day Family Seminar at the end of the course. Because of the additional Family Seminar, Intercept courses are longer than most Classic courses.

It sounds like my teen is an Intercept applicant. Why should I choose an Outward Bound Intercept program over a different Therapeutic program?

Outward Bound’s Intercept program is not a Wilderness Therapy program. Our Instructors are not licensed therapists or psychiatrists. An Outward Bound course is an adventure, an incredibly unique life-experience, and it should be fun. An Outward Bound Intercept course is not a punishment, it’s an opportunity, and while some teens/young adults do not understand this in the beginning, many alumni appreciate their courses for being "life-changing" in the end.

Intercept courses are designed for students who lack motivation, battle low self-esteem, become easily frustrated, have difficulty communicating, demonstrate poor decision making skills and have difficulty connecting their actions with consequences. Outward Bound Intercept courses provide a rite-of-passage type experience that guides students to better understand how their actions affect their relationships and equips them with tools to more gracefully navigate greater adulthood responsibilities.

Outward Bound’s Intercept courses are not appropriate for those with histories of chemical dependency, violent behaviors or some psychiatric conditions.

How are parents/guardians involved in the Intercept program? Who should attend the Family Seminar at the end of the course?

Parents/guardians of students on Intercept courses must be highly invested and involved in their child’s Outward Bound course from the very beginning by participating in a 45-minute phone interview during the application process. Upon acceptance to the program, parents/guardians receive an Intercept course workbook and are required to complete “homework” during their child’s expedition. The Intercept course workbook is designed to prepare parents/guardians for the Family Seminar at the end of the course. It asks parents/guardians to examine their relationship with their child, how it is important to them, how it has been compromised, their personal responsibility for the state of the relationship, and what they’re willing to do to fix it. Many of the same lessons and tools that students learn during the expedition are also outlined in the workbook, along with descriptions of the typical expedition experience and progression. Parents/guardians complete various sections of the workbook up until the Family Seminar at the end of the course.

A 3-day Family Seminar is held at the end of every Intercept course. Most seminars happen in El Paso, TX; Duluth, MN or Ely, MN, while some are held over the phone. While Outward Bound strongly encourages all parents or guardians who live with the student to attend the Family Seminar, 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 s/he made, and how s/he may struggle after transitioning home. By the end of the day, parents will have also learned the same communication and decision making lessons that the Instructor’s taught their child during the expedition, giving families a common vocabulary to use the following day.

Students do not participate in the first day of the seminar but everyone reunites in the morning on the second day. The student group gives a short presentation about their experience and families participate in some activities together. Students then prepare and share an expedition style lunch with their parents. 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.

What can we expect upon completion of our Intercept course?

Intercept courses are designed to promote improved communication, increase students’ sense of self-efficacy, connect actions with consequences, and equip students with the tools that can help them navigate their lives with a greater sense of responsibility and self respect. Our goal is to create a clear and thoughtful transition plan during the Family Conference that helps each family member commit to a set of agreements that will guide actions and behaviors in the future.

However, we know that every individual, every family and every set of circumstances is unique. Challenges are not likely to magically dissipate after a few weeks in the wilderness. It takes hard work, and in families, this hard work means that every family member must commit to continuing to grow, learn and make changes for the better. It’s not always easy, and it’s not always possible without support.

Voyageur Outward Bound School is committed to supporting the students and families who participate in our courses. Because we know that so many of the lessons learned during Intercept courses have the power to create long-lasting change if they are successfully applied at home, we have partnered with PRN for Families ( to provide a customized, transition support program for Intercept families. PRN for Families is a well-regarded industry expert in providing home-based support to families with teens and young adults who are struggling. The VOBS/PRN for Families collaboration includes 30 days of home-based transition support. You can learn more about this program on the PRN for Families website, by contacting their admissions department (888) 762-5973 or, through direct inquiry of your Course Director, as well as in additional material which you will be provided during your Intercept course.

Do I need to travel with my child to drop them off?

While parents are welcome to travel to/from with their child, it is often not necessary. With proper preparation and motivation, navigating the airport can simply be another facet of the adventure. Outward Bound will have representatives at the meeting place on the first day of the course to receive each student upon their arrival. Outward Bound will also ensure that students make their return flight or shuttle at the end of the course. If a student requires additional travel support, parents may consider purchasing the Unaccompanied Minor service provided by the airline. In this case, an airline attendant accompanies the child from departure, through any connecting flights, and ensures their safe arrival with Outward Bound.

General payment terms and conditions for Intercept courses

Outward Bound’s general payment terms and conditions for Intercept courses are based on our investment in planning, staffing and delivering our courses. These expenses are not recoverable, therefore penalties may apply.

Enrollment Processing Fee

The Outward Bound application process is extensive in order to best ensure that students are appropriate and prepared for their Outward Bound experience. In order to reserve a spot, either through the website or over the phone, applicants are required to complete a short Health History Questionnaire and pay a $500 deposit that is applied toward the total cost of the course. This deposit includes a $150 non-refundable enrollment processing fee. At this time, a Voyageur Outward Bound School Course Advisor will contact the applicant and provide additional documents, including a more extensive Application to be completed within a specified time frame, typically two weeks. The applicant may also be required to return supplementary documents completed by their doctor, therapist or other reference. Upon receipt of the completed application, a Course Advisor will call/email to schedule a phone interview if s/he has any questions (both parent/guardian and student interviews are mandatory for Intercept expedition applicants). The whole process typically takes 2-3 weeks but can take longer if all pieces of the application are not returned in a timely manner.


The total cost includes all tuition and fees for the course. Tuition covers the cost of food, instructors, permits, gear and equipment while on course. Not included in this total cost are personal expenses such as clothing, insurance (health and travel), airfare and baggage fees. Full payment is due 60 days before the course start date. Be prepared to pay the balance due at this time even if you have yet to submit your completed enrollment packet, or have yet to be cleared to participate on the course. If your payment is not received by the deadline, this may be considered a cancellation and you will risk losing your spot on the course and your $150 non-refundable Enrollment Processing Fee.

Tuition & Fees Refund Policy

In the event your enrollment packet is not cleared for participation on the course, Outward Bound will refund your payment for the course with the exception of the $150 non-refundable enrollment processing fee. The $150 enrollment processing fee can only be refunded if you formally decline a scholarship offer or a spot does not open up if you are on a waitlist.

Cancellation Policy

Outward Bound cannot refund the cost of the course in the event that a student is unable to attend or complete the course due to an unexpected event, illness or injury. There are no penalties if a student cancels more than 90 days before the course-start date. With the exception of the $150 non-refundable enrollment processing fee, Outward Bound will refund $350 of the Deposit fee and 100% of the Tuition fee payment.

A graduated penalty system applies to cancellations less than 90 days before the course start date.

For cancellations between:

  • 89 to 75 days from the course start date, Outward Bound will retain the full $500 deposit and refund the remaining balance.
  • 74 to 60 days from the course start date, Outward Bound will retain the $500 deposit and refund 75% of the remaining balance.
  • 59 to 45 days from the course start date, Outward Bound will retain the $500 deposit and refund 50% of the remaining balance.
  • Less than 44 days from the course start date, Outward Bound will not issue a refund.


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