Peer Leadership: Circuit Expedition

This expedition has been uniquely designed to combine Outward Bound’s powerful experiential education curriculum with a citywide exploration of The Circuit regional trail network.

On a Circuit expedition, participants explore the rich cultural, historical, and natural environment of Philadelphia, while discovering personal and group leadership skills and a commitment to the values of compassion and service to the community. As our crews backpack through the city, they learn how to work together and discover the commitment and effort it takes to truly work well as a team. Crew members learn an assortment of new skills from communication and conflict resolution tools, to Leave-No-Trace™ ethics and advanced urban navigation in order to successfully live, work, eat, and play together.

Each day, the crew will navigate the expedition route on foot with stops along the way for educational opportunities, games and initiatives, and team challenges. The crew will also spend an afternoon on Outward Bound’s high ropes course in Wissahickon Park and participate in at least one or more organized service project(s) with community partners. The crew will stay overnight at a different sleep site each night. Sleep site locations will be announced at the start of the expedition and may include places like: Fort Washington campground, the Outward Bound Treehouse, Fairmount Waterworks, Bartram’s Garden, Chamounix International Hostel, Andorra Nature Center, or other community partner sites.

Why The Circuit?

The Circuit is a multi-use trail network that connects 250 miles of trails throughout the Greater Philadelphia area in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, with plans to add 500 additional miles to the system. When fully complete, The Circuit will help connect people to jobs, recreational opportunities, public transportation and other neighborhoods, and will serve as a gateway to open green space. Support of The Circuit is being led by The Circuit Coalition, formed in 2012, a group of foundations, agencies, and nonprofit organizations, including the Philadelphia Outward Bound School. For more information, please visit


All crews are facilitated by two skilled Outward Bound instructors and have a maximum instructor-to-student ratio of 1:6. Outward Bound’s certified instructors follow a learning progression that leads toward mastery and goal accomplishment. Gradually, day by day, instructors turn the expedition over to the crew members until the crews themselves actually take charge. Instructors then stay in the background for the final stage of the expedition, ready to step in if needed. It is hard to define the sense of accomplishment that our participants feel as they make critical decisions, set their own course, and bring their crews home.

Solo Experience

For most expedition a week in length or longer there is an aspect of the course known as the solo experience. Solo on an Outward Bound course provides an opportunity for reflection, rejuvenation, and the experience of solitude in a quiet setting. Instructors will be within site and sound of every student’s solo reflection site.

High Ropes Course

During your expedition you will, weather and course plans permitting, experience a 1/2 day on our High Ropes Course in the Wissahickon Park. Participants will learn the proper techniques of belaying, essential equipment, and how to support each other through the challenging course. Certified specialist instructors teach participants about trust and teamwork while our crew members belay each other for climbing.

Why offer students an experience on a Philadelphia Outward Bound Circuit Expedition?

The Philadelphia Outward Bound School has been serving students in Philadelphia public, charter, independent and parochial schools for 20 years. Peer Leadership expeditions engage students and their teacher(s) with their peers in challenging environments that develop their leadership and personal skills.

Outward Bound’s program outcomes are tracked and evaluated using an outcome instrument that measures change through pre and post-course assessments. On average, students participating in Outward Bound Philadelphia’s programs achieved growth in Character Development (self-confidence, compassion, leading healthy lives), Leadership (goal setting, communication, collaboration, conflict relation and problem solving) and in their commitment to Community Service (social and environmental responsibility).

Outward Bound expeditions are profound learning experiences.

Other skills you will learn and practice:

  • Safety precautions for urban foot travel
  • How to find neighborhoods and specific locations
  • How to navigate using SEPTA public transportation
  • Map and compass reading
  • Philadelphia history and local ecology
  • Circuit trail use and navigation
  • Conflict resolution
  • Communication styles
  • Leadership and team building