FAQs | Outward Bound

Frequently Asked Questions

There are a lot of things to consider when planning for an Outward Bound Canada program. Whether for you or for someone you know, we hope that the answers to our Frequently Asked Questions below will help you feel prepared and ready to register for the program and learn more about what the expedition will be like!

Lots of prospective participants and families say that watching our videos have helped them to visualize what a program might be like – Click Here to go to our Videos page to see more – and feel free to share with your family and friends.

HOW DO I KNOW IF AN OUTWARD BOUND CANADA COURSE IS RIGHT FOR ME OR SOMEONE I KNOW?

Before you decide to embark on an adventure with us, you should take the time to consider if you have the following:

  • A desire to boost your personal and practical skills
  • An interest in disconnecting from your usual routine to try something new
  • A positive attitude and an open mind
  • Willingness to meet new people, outside of your usual social group
  • Willingness to take responsibility for your own safety and decision making
  • Strategies to manage stress and overcome challenges in your day-to-day life
  • A detailed understanding of the program activities and day to day routine
  • An appetite for adventure, fun and challenge!

WHAT IS THE PROGRAM LIKE?

On an Outward Bound program, participants learn by doing. Participants will be challenged as an individual and become an effective member of the team, whether they are canoeing, backpacking or dogsledding. Following the traditional Outward Bound model, you will travel some distance each day, sharing the various tasks and responsibilities among group members, including campsite management, navigation, cooking and group leadership. It is important to know that your participation is voluntary and we expect you to try new things and put forth your best effort. The program is designed to be physically, emotionally and mentally challenging. We allow participants to try new things in a safe and supported environment – you will never be forced to do something you don’t want to do. Your instructors inform and inspire you; as the course progresses, the responsibility of tasks shifts from instructors to participants, and the groups technical and decision-making abilities are able to grow and thrive.

HOW FIT DO I HAVE TO BE?

Outward Bound is about ordinary people doing extraordinary things: participants with a wide range of physical and mental fitness have successfully completed an Outward Bound course. Overcoming challenges is one of the many tools we use to help you explore your personal potential. Our programs are designed for the reasonably fit, regularly active individual with a stable mental fitness and tools to overcome challenges. It is important to know that the better shape you’re in, the more comfortable you will be on the expedition. Our courses are challenging and a certain amount of preparation will ensure that you are overall comfortable on the course and ready to achieve success. Please complete your Confidential Medical History form in detail and answer all questions honestly, providing as much detail as possible so that we can help you to be prepared and ready. We are committed to ensuring the safety of yourself and of your group while participating in the program.

 

WHAT DO I NEED TO BRING?

Outward Bound Canada supplies all of the technical gear you need! This includes boats, paddles, life jackets/PFDs, tents, first-aid equipment, sleeping pads, cooking and eating utensils, stoves, helmets, ropes, harnesses and tarps. OBC also provides the tripping packs appropriate for each course. Participants are only responsible for bringing their own personal clothing and footwear, and don’t forget a headlamp! You can pack everything in a duffle bag that is suitable for travelling. We will provide you with a Packing List, which outlines the items you should pack.  We expect participants to do their best with bringing their own clothing, as it is always more comfortable to wear your own.  If you have questions or get stuck, we can help you find tricky items or come up with an alternative. We have some supplies that participants can borrow if they do not have the ability to acquire some things on their own. During the ‘Duffle Shuffle’, the instructors will ensure all participants are well equipped for the trip before heading out.

WHAT IS YOUR CANCELLATION POLICY?

Our Cancellation Policy reflects the fact that we incur most of the costs of your expedition before you arrive for the program. Please let us know as soon as possible if you will not be able to attend the program.

Please Click Here to see our Cancellation & Refund Policy for youth and adults.

Please Click Here to see our Cancellation Policy for schools/groups participants.

Please Click Here to see our Cancellation Policy for participants on funded programs.

WHAT KIND OF FOOD DO WE GET ON THE PROGRAM?

A detailed menu is planned before each program and is subject to change based on a number of factors. We can accommodate many dietary restrictions and most food allergies. Please indicate your dietary restrictions and allergies on your Confidential Medical History Form in as much detail as possible. We may request some follow up information in order to plan your menu. Participants will receive sufficient calories in the reflection of their physical activities on the course. Bringing your own food/snacks on the course is not required. Please speak to the Admissions Department to make sure you understand the dietary concerns of other participants before packing any extra snacks.

WHAT IS YOUR ALCOHOL, SMOKING, VAPING AND SUBSTANCE USE POLICY?

The possession and/or use of non-prescription drugs, alcohol, tobacco products, cannabis or illegal substances while on the course is strictly prohibited. This includes the misuse of prescription medications. If you would like to use tobacco for ceremonial purposes, please speak with your instructor upon arrival to your program. You will be asked to sign a Code of Conduct & Assumption of Risk form demonstrating your understanding of this policy. Any participant who brings these substances on course will be sent home at the expense of the participant/their family.

IS THIS AN ADVENTURE THERAPY PROGRAM?

While spending time out in nature can be described as therapeutic, it is important to know Outward Bound Canada is not designed to be a therapy program. Our instructors are trained in outdoor education and expeditionary travel, and they are not mental health professionals. The Outward Bound program can be very challenging, both physically and mentally, and it is important for your success to arrive for the course with some healthy coping strategies in your toolkit for coping when those challenges arise.

WHAT WILL THE SLEEPING ARRANGEMENTS BE?

Participants will be sleeping in tents for the duration of the program – bringing you that much closer to nature! You will share a tent with others on the course in small groups according to gender and comfort. Outward Bound provides you with the tent, sleeping bag, and sleeping pad. Feel free to bring your own sleeping bag if you wish, however, your instructors may suggest that you use one of ours.

CAN I BRING MY CELL PHONE?

You won’t need it – participants on course enjoy a vacation from technology! Your cell phone, along with your other personal belongings that you don’t need (wallet, music player, airline tickets, etc.) will be stored safely at our office nearby while you are in the wilderness. Once the course starts, you will not be able to contact anyone at home, you will be immersed in the Outward Bound experience – building connections with yourself, others, and the natural world!  Please know that the instructor team has a plan for getting in touch with our office and your emergency contacts at home in the event of an emergency.

WILL I BE SAFE?

Our highly trained instructors make sure that all activities adhere to strict safety guidelines that we have developed over more than fifty years of working in the wilderness. Instructional briefings precede each new activity to help you participate safely in all of our activities. Our methods and practices are monitored and reviewed regularly by a committee made up of senior Outward Bound staff from schools across North America, as well as independent experts. While there is inherently a risk involved spending time in the wilderness, you’re in great hands!

WHO ARE MY INSTRUCTORS?

Outward Bound Instructors are skilled, dedicated, and caring outdoor educators. These well-rounded individuals have an extensive wilderness experience. They come from a variety of backgrounds: education, business, camp and other outdoor education networks, or from one of over 40 Outward Bound schools around the world. Aside from formal qualifications in Wilderness First Aid, our instructors continually update their skills through independent training, personal expeditions, and staff development opportunities provided by Outward Bound Canada. They can’t wait to meet you!

CAN YOU TELL ME MORE ABOUT THE SOLO EXPERIENCE?

The solo experience, called “solo”, is designed to give you some time to yourself, away from the group, to relax, reflect and recharge. The solo provides a change of pace, and it varies in length depending on the duration of your course. You will have the opportunity to set up a campsite of your own, manage your own physical and mental needs and enjoy your independence. You will never be more than a whistle-blow away from your instructors who will check on you regularly. Often described as the most transformative part of the experience, the solo gives participants the chance to reflect on earlier experiences from the expedition, absorb important realizations about yourself and leave behind anything that would no longer serve you going forward. It is important to know that the solo is not a survival exercise: you will have all the proper gear, food, water and other necessities with you. It’s simply time for self-exploration, rest and reflection.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS – INDIVIDUAL PROGRAMS

WHAT IS INCLUDED IN THE COURSE FEE?

The course fee includes the use of all technical gear required for your course: tents, sleeping bags, backpacking gear, and much more! Also included are three meals per day plus the snacks that are required to keep you nourished and energized. Included in the course fee are the knowledgeable and experienced instructors will be there to teach and guide you throughout the entire course. Additional fees include an application fee, high school credit fee (if applicable for you) and applicable taxes.

HOW DO I GET TO THE COURSE?

Outward Bound Canada courses take place in various landscapes across the country. As you can imagine, some are more remote than others. Participants are required to make their way to and from the course independently. You can travel to us in a variety of ways: by car, bus or aeroplane. Your Welcome Booklet includes information on specific meeting times and locations for your course – please consult with your Admissions Coordinator if you have any questions about meeting up for your program.

WHAT IF MY CHILD DOESN’T WANT TO GO?

All participants at Outward Bound Canada are expected to be active and willing participants on their expedition. Our instructors will ensure to provide safe and supportive opportunities for participants to try new things, expand their comfort zone and learn along the way. We highly encourage you to include your child in the exploration and decision to participate in the program and to be honest in completing their forms during registration. An applicant should not feel coerced or forced to attend a program. Participants on course will be highly encouraged and supported, but ultimately will not be forced to stay on expedition if they refuse to participate. Our Admissions team is happy to work with any parents and participants to help ensure that it is the right time for them to join us on course and to answer any questions you may have in your decision to have your child participate.

WHO ARE THE OTHER PARTICIPANTS ON MY COURSE?

Since 1969, over 150,000 people have enjoyed a wilderness expedition with Outward Bound Canada. Groups usually consist of eight to twelve participants and two instructors. Our participants come from across Canada and around the world and they bring with them a wide variety of skills and life experiences; you can expect to meet peers with a uniquely different family, school and social experiences.

What is Outward Bound Canada doing to protect participants and staff from COVID-19?

Click here to read more about our response to Covid-19 and managing infectious illnesses on course.

CAN I BRING A FRIEND?

We strongly encourage participants to consider attending a course on their own, independently from friends or siblings. In our experience, participants who step out of their comfort zone to participate independently are in a great place to experience immense personal growth and development. The majority of our participants do attend their course alone – the fresh start of the whole group allows for the building and maintaining of an integral team of working groups and the creation of special friendships. If you would like to participate in an Outward Bound experience with your school, friends or community, please contact us about our custom groups programs.

SCHOOLS & GROUPS PROGRAMS – REGISTRATION FORMS

All participants are required to complete the required Registration Forms before being approved to participate in your Outward Bound Canada program. In preparation for your expedition, you will be asked to complete the following forms:

  • Contact Information
  • Confidential Medical History form
  • Photo Release and Research Consent form
  • Assumption of Risk, Code of Conduct form

If your course will require specific gear or you are earning a high school credit on the program, we may require some additional paperwork. Please take your time completing the forms and offer as much information as you can – all of the information provided helps us to prepare to offer you a safe and successful experience.

Click Here to go to the Registration Portal for your school/group program!

Click Here to go to the Registration Portal for our Youth and Adult programs!