Expedition – Pre Course FAQs
Why go into the wilderness to learn about leadership?
In addition to providing a beautiful setting, wild and natural places offer a unique learning environment. The unfamiliar spaces present participants with inherent challenges and logical natural consequences. While learning to face these challenges as individuals and as a group, participants develop the skills they need to step into leadership roles and more effectively face challenges in their daily lives.
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 students.
Is it safe?
Outward Bound has an excellent safety record, and we work hard to reduce the risk of injury to our students. We invest considerable time and resources in training our staff and reviewing our programs to ensure that they meet Outward Bound’s national standards of safety and quality. The accuracy of the information you provide on medical forms is a safety essential. Families will be notified immediately in the case of an emergency.
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. This includes group management, conflict resolution, goal-setting and action-planning, managing adolescents in the field, and judgment training. Instructors also learn curriculum, lesson planning, and natural history. They are taught by Outward Bound staff, through the Blank-Read Training Institute and by other professionals.
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.
When should I make travel arrangements?
We recommend that you delay purchasing nonrefundable airline tickets until you have been approved for participation and the course is confirmed a "go." On rare occasions we cancel courses due to low enrollment or other issues. When you have been approved for the course and you know it is a "go", make sure you pay close attention to the start and end times and location of your course start/end before booking your tickets to avoid any mistakes with your reservation.
What paperwork is required?
In order to participate, each participant must complete a medical form and 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; 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 very thorough and rigorous in order to ensure the safety of our participants. Our Medical Screener may need to contact you for further clarification or to request additional information.
Do I have to want to go?
Yes, students must be willing and motivated to attend Outward Bound. This is not a boot camp. We do not force participants to go on course. In order to make sure all students have an enjoyable time while on course we ask that everyone fully participate in all course activities and follow the rules and regulations of Outward Bound. Students will be asked about their motivation level during the enrollment and interview processes.
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.
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.)
- Playing cards
- Pocket knives
- Books or magazines
Will I speak with my instructors before expedition?
Yes, Instructors will try reach out to students normally within a week of Expedition via Phone call. This call is for instructors to help the student prepare for the expedition and give some insight about who they are and what to expect while on course.
Will there be showers and toilets?
Not until the course ends. During the course, toilet needs are met through more primitive techniques. In some areas, there may be an outhouse. In many places, waste is buried or packed out. Other hygiene needs are met through regular hand washing. At the end of most courses, you will have access to a shower before returning to the airport.
Do I need to bring 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.
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.
Expedition – On Course FAQs
What should participants expect on an Outward Bound expedition?
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 teammates.
What happens if the weather is bad?
The course will continue regardless of weather. Instructors will teach students basic safety precautions and protocols. All participants are provided with rain gear for use during the course.
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.
Can a friend come with me?
Outward Bound is about stepping outside of your comfort zone. Being with people you don't know is part of the Outward Bound experience. There are many great benefits to sharing your experience with a diverse group of people that you don't know. You may start out as strangers but after working, playing and living together in the wilderness, you most likely will leave the course with deep friendships. In a small group setting, friends or spouses may become too competitive or, on the other hand, too dependent on each other. For that reason, we encourage students to enroll on their own course and will direct friends/family members/spouses attending the same dates into different groups whenever possible. You and your friend may enroll in the same course, but you may be placed in separate crews, which allows you to enjoy the experience independently. If you feel we should make an exception in your case, contact us to see what your options are.
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.
Expedition – After Course FAQs
Will I receive pictures from the expedition?
In most cases we do supply a course camera for expedition members to take pictures. Photos are then shared and available for download on our website.
Am I going to receive feedback or evaluation?
Some courses do receive an evaluation, but not all. If you need a letter of evaluation/recommendation, please reach out to the Philadelphia Outward Bound School.
What if I have a question that is not addressed here?
Call our friendly Student Services Manager at 215-372-8943
Day Program (Insight Day) FAQs
What should I wear on an Insight Day 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 Day 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 rain gear and water. No electronic devices, including cell phones, mp3 players, video games, etc. are allowed during the program.