What should I expect on course?
Participants should come prepared to work hard, have fun and learn new skills. Your time with us will be spent outdoors in the natural world, meeting challenges, practicing leadership, managing risks and working closely within a group. Along the way, you will be guided by your instructors and supported by the camaraderie of fellow participants.
Is it safe?
Outward Bound has an excellent safety record, and the safety of our participants is among our top priorities. We invest considerable time and resources in training our staff and reviewing our programs to ensure that they meet Outward Bound’s National Safety Policies and Standards – often cited as the outdoor industry standard worldwide.
Why go into the wilderness or to new places in the city to learn about leadership?
In addition to providing a beautiful setting, wild and natural places offer a unique learning environment, especially to today’s youth who often have had limited exposure to the outdoors or to corporate and professional teams who spend most of their days inside. Natural and unfamiliar spaces present participants with inherent challenges and logical natural consequences. While learning to face these challenges as individuals and as groups, participants develop the skills they need to step into leadership roles and more effectively face challenges in their daily lives.
What is an Insight Course?
One or two consecutive day courses at an off-site facility or at Outward Bound’s high ropes course in Wissahickon Valley Park. Participants challenge themselves and their teammates by facing collaborative problem solving, constructive communication and team-building activities. Often, the final challenge is the high ropes course requiring individuals to tackle their fears and to support and encourage their teammates. During the day, participants build self-confidence, witness the value of effective leadership and develop a sense of trust and teamwork.
What is a Peer Leadership Expedition?
Peer Leadership Expeditions are week-long courses that engage students with their peers in challenging environments that develop and enhance leadership and personal skills. Outward Bound Philadelphia offers two options for these signature expedition courses:
~ Philadelphia Urban Expedition: Explore the rich cultural, historical, and natural environment of Philadelphia on these five-day expedition courses. Participants plan and provide community service, climb the high ropes course, sleep in the 30’ high tree house, canoe the Schuylkill River, hike the trails of Wissahickon Valley and have reflective “solo” time alone.
~ Wilderness Expedition: Five to seven-day backpack OR canoe courses through the wilderness regions of Pennsylvania and NJ’s Delaware Water Gap. Participants learn and practice leadership skills, Leave No Trace™ camping, outdoor equipment set up and safety, and map and compass navigation while reflecting on their life goals and how they will achieve them.
Do you have courses for professional and corporate teams?
Outward Bound Professional programs are available to any adult group wishing to participate in an adventurous experience designed to strengthen interpersonal and team relationships and performance. Each program is custom designed to meet your goals and programs range from 1/2 day indoor meeting activities to multi-day expedition format courses.
How can my child participate in a program?
While Insight and Peer Leadership courses offered during the school year are group programs enrolled directly with schools, school districts and youth-serving organizations, Outward Bound’s Open Enrollment courses are available on an individually enrolled basis and are generally offered during the summer months. Information about these courses is available on the Course Finder option on this website.
How are instructors trained?
Outward Bound instructors are highly qualified outdoor professionals and educators, extensively trained and certified in both hard and soft skills. Typical certifications include: Wilderness First Responder, Wilderness Lifeguarding, AMGA Rock Climbing and ACA Canoe instruction. An instructor must be certified and have both personal experience and professional guiding experience before becoming staff.
Outward Bound instructors receive an equal level of instruction in soft skills: group management, conflict resolution, goal-setting and action-planning, managing adolescents in the field, and judgment training. Instructors also learn to teach Outward Bound’s renowned curriculum, lesson planning, and facts about the environment and natural history.
What happens if the weather is bad?
Outward Bound courses run rain or shine! Your course will take place regardless of weather. Instructors will teach students basic safety precautions and protocols for all weather conditions. All participants are provided with rain gear for use during their course as needed.
What should participants expect on an Outward Bound course?
Participants should come prepared to work hard, have fun and learn new skills. Time with Outward Bound will be spent outdoors in the natural world, meeting challenges, practicing leadership, reaching goals, problem solving and working closely within a group. Along the way, participants will be guided by instructors and supported by the camaraderie of their crew mates.
What should I bring on my Leadership Expedition?
Bringing the proper clothing on your program is crucial. After you are enrolled you will receive a welcome packet that includes a clothing list specific to your course. This list has been carefully compiled based on all the weather conditions you may encounter while on your program.
Our clothing list reflects the importance of the layering principle. Dressing in several light layers rather than one heavy layer allows you more flexibility as the weather and workloads change. Wool has been the long-time favorite of outdoors people, as it retains much of its insulating qualities when wet. Both synthetic and wool items are available in backpacking stores, surplus outlets and thrift stores.
We advise you not to bring cotton clothing, such as jeans or sweatshirts (t-shirts are okay). Cotton retains moisture and loses almost all of its ability to retain warmth when wet. Also, once cotton gets wet, it stays wet and weighs more.
Each participant should have a total of two pairs of closed-toe shoes for any course, one pair for daily use and one pair that can get wet.
Do I need to purchase gear or clothing for my course?
Please don’t feel that you must buy anything. Outward Bound provides all technical equipment, including rain gear, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, duffel bags, back packs, stoves, food, etc. Even if you bring your own equipment, we may insist you use ours.
What should I NOT bring on my expedition?
Please do not bring the following items:
Jewelry and other valuable articles
Electronic devices (e.g. cell phone, mp3 players, videogames, etc.)
Books or magazines
Candy and/or snacks
What about medications?
Prescription medications must be approved by the Medical Screening Department before the program starts. If you cannot go for 24-36 hours without your medication, in case of an emergency, we recommend that you bring double the amount needed (with written instructions) in separate, non-breakable, waterproof containers.
What kind of food will we eat?
While on course you will be eating nutritious and portable food – grains, pasta, cheese, vegetables, fruit and nuts – selected to meet high-energy demands for your program. Typical meals include burritos, macaroni and cheese, and tuna sandwiches. The diet may differ from what you are accustomed to at home. To prepare, we suggest you cut down on soft drinks, coffee and junk food.
How will I stay clean?
We are very aware of basic sanitation in the wilderness. You will wash your hands regularly and learn tricks of the trade to staying clean, even though you will not be able to shower. Deodorant is not advised because it has a tendency to irritate skin when not washed off regularly, and the scent attracts many unwanted insects and animals. Personal soap is not necessary, as we provide all you will need.
Do I need money?
There will be a school store selling Outward Bound gear after your course (hats, shirts, mugs, sweatshirts, bandanas, etc). You should also bring money for lost or broken gear. $20-30 should suffice.
Can I bring my cell phone?
Participants may NOT bring cell phones or other electronic devices on course. The instructor team is equipped with an emergency phone. Participants will not be allowed to place or receive calls during the course.
Whom should a parent/guardian contact in case of a true emergency at home while my child is on course?
Parents/guardians may contact our Course Director during an emergency 24 hours a day. This emergency number is given to parents/guardians once a participant is enrolled in one of our programs.
What paperwork is required?
In order to participate on almost any Outward Bound course, each participant must complete a medical form and an acknowledgement of personal responsibility form. Each form must be signed by the student and a parent/legal guardian (if participant is under the age of 18). Please fill them out entirely and return them to the appropriate person for your group. Every question is important! Please be sure to include your height, weight and blood pressure. We do not require a doctor’s signature unless medical detail follow up is required; however missing information may compromise participation in the program. Your forms will be confidentially reviewed by our Medical Screening Department. Outward Bound’s screening process is deliberately rigorous and thorough. Our Medical Screener may need to contact you for further clarification or to request additional information.
What should I wear on an Insight Course Program?
Participants should wear closed-toe shoes. Sneakers are great, sandals are not. Clothes should be comfortable and appropriate for an active day outside. Please be aware that the program runs rain or shine. Dress appropriately. Except for t-shirts, do not bring cotton items, as they lose their insulating quality when wet. Wool or synthetic clothing is recommended for cooler weather.
What do I need to bring with me on an Insight Course Program?
The most important thing you need to have is a good attitude and an adventurous spirit. Your group may ask you to bring a bagged lunch. Outward Bound provides all necessary technical equipment, as well as raingear and water. No electronic devices, including cell phones, mp3 players, videogames, etc. are allowed during the program.