FAQS / Youth Courses FAQ

In an Outward Bound program, participants learn by doing. They are challenged as individuals and become effective team members, whether they are canoeing, backpacking or kayaking. Following the traditional Outward Bound model, you will cover a certain distance each day and divide the various tasks and responsibilities among the 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 give your best. 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 anything you don’t want to do. Your instructors inform and inspire you; as the course progresses, responsibility for tasks shifts from the instructors to the participants, and the group's technical and decision-making abilities are able to grow and flourish.

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!

Outward Bound is about ordinary people doing extraordinary things! Our courses are designed to challenge participants physically, emotionally and mentally. With a little preparation, you’ll feel more comfortable on the course overall. Students of all ages have successfully participated in wilderness adventures with us.

Overcoming challenges is one of the many tools we use to help you explore your personal potential. You will face physical challenges that are outside your routine, but motivation and the will to try are key to a successful Outward Bound experience. You can start now by engaging in activities that improve your endurance and cardiovascular fitness. Go for a walk, ride your bike, take a yoga class – whatever gets your body moving! On each course page you’ll find a rating and a description of the level of physical and social-emotional challenge the course offers. This gives potential participants an idea of the level of challenge they can expect in each course. Learn more about the levels.

If you are unsure about the physical requirements of your course, please contact one of our admissions coordinators at admissions@outwardbound.ca to find out more about the physical challenge you can expect in each course. When completing the confidential medical history form, please answer all questions honestly and provide as much detail as possible so that we can help you prepare. We are committed to ensuring the wellbeing of you and your group.

Outward Bound instructors are skilled, dedicated, and caring outdoor educators. They have extensive wilderness experience and come from a variety of backgrounds: education, business, camps and other outdoor education networks, or from one of over 40 Outward Bound schools around the world.

In addition to formal qualifications in Wilderness First Aid, our instructors are constantly updating their skills through independent training, personal expeditions, and staff development opportunities provided by Outward Bound Canada. They can’t wait to meet you!

You won’t need it – course participants enjoy a vacation from technology! Your cell phone and other personal items you won’t need (wallet, music player, plane tickets, etc.) will be safely stored in our office nearby while you’re in the wilderness.

Once the course begins, you won’t be able to contact anyone at home, you will be immersed in the Outward Bound experience – building a connection to yourself, to others and to nature! Please know that the instructor team has a plan for you to get in touch with our office and your emergency contacts at home in case of an emergency.

The course fee includes all technical equipment for your course: Tents, sleeping bags, backpacking gear, and much more! Also included are three meals a day and the snacks you need to keep you nourished and energized. The course fee also includes the knowledgeable and experienced instructors who will teach and guide you throughout the course. 

Additional fees include a high school credit fee (if applicable) and applicable taxes.

Outward Bound Canada courses take place in different landscapes across the country. As you can imagine, some are more remote than others. Participants must make their way to and from the course independently. You can travel to us in a variety of ways: by car, bus or plane. In your welcome booklet you will find information on the exact meeting times and locations for your course – please contact your Admissions Coordinator if you have any questions about your program.

All Outward Bound Canada participants are expected to actively and willingly participate in their expedition. Our instructors ensure that participants have safe and supportive opportunities to try new things, expand their comfort zone and learn along the way.

We encourage you to involve your child in exploring and deciding whether to participate in the program and to be honest when filling out the forms at the time of application. An applicant should not feel pressured to participate in a program. Course participants will be highly encouraged and supported, but ultimately not forced to participate in the expedition if they decline to participate. Our Admissions team is happy to work with parents and participants to ensure it is the right time for them to join a course and to answer any questions you may have when deciding whether your child should attend.

Since 1969, more than 175,000 people have experienced a wilderness expedition with Outward Bound Canada. Groups typically consist of eight to twelve participants and two instructors. Our participants come from across Canada and around the world, bringing with them a wide range of skills and life experiences. So you can expect to meet peers with very different family, educational and social experiences.

We strongly encourage participants to attend a course alone, independent of friends or siblings. We have found that participants who step out of their comfort zone and attend on their own experience tremendous personal growth. Most of our participants attend their course alone – starting afresh with the whole group allows for the building and nurturing of an integral team of working groups and the development of special friendships. 

If you do choose to participate with a friend, please know that you will be expected to interact and build connections with the whole group, as exclusive relationships are discouraged. An Outward Bound experience is truly about being part of a team and supporting each other through new and unexpected challenges as your journey unfolds.

If you would like to participate in an Outward Bound experience with your school, friends or community, please contact us at groups@outwardboundcanada.ca to inquire about our custom groups programs.

Participants will sleep in tents or improvised shelters during the program – so you are even closer to nature! Outward Bound Canada will provide you with the tent, sleeping bag, and sleeping pad. If you wish, you can bring your own sleeping bag, but if it is not suitable for the weather conditions, your instructors may suggest that you use one of our sleeping bags.

Depending on the program, you may have the option of sharing a tent with your peers or setting up your own sleeping shelter. Please contact us if you have further questions about sleeping arrangements for your specific program.

Yes, there are several financial assistance options available to help you participate in an Outward Bound Canada program! Check out our financial assistance page to learn more about these opportunities.

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 varies in length depending on the duration of your course. You will have the opportunity to set up your own campsite, take care of your own physical and mental needs and enjoy your independence.

You will never be more than a whistle away from your instructors, who will check on you regularly. The solo is often described as the most transformative part of the experience. It gives participants the opportunity to reflect on their experiences on the expedition so far, absorb important insights about themselves and leave behind anything that won’t be useful to them in the future. 

It is important to note that the solo is not a survival exercise: you will have all the proper gear, food, water and other necessary items with you. It is simply time for self-exploration, rest and reflection.

Outward Bound Canada provides all the technical gear you need! This includes canoes, kayaks, paddles, life jackets/PFDs, tents, first aid equipment, sleeping pads, cooking and eating utensils, stoves, helmets, ropes, harnesses and tarps. OBC will also provide the appropriate trip packs for each course. Participants only need to bring their personal clothing and shoes as well as a headlamp! You can pack everything in luggage suitable for traveling. We will provide you with a clothing list detailing the items you should pack. We expect participants to do their best and bring their own clothes, as it is always more comfortable to wear your own.

If you have any questions or get stuck, we can help you find tricky items or offer you an alternative. We have a stock of supplies that participants can borrow if they can’t get their own. At the Duffle Shuffle, the instructors ensure that all participants are well equipped for the trip before they set off.

Our Cancellation Policy takes into account the fact that most of the costs for your expedition will be incurred before you arrive at your program. Please let us know as soon as possible if you will not be able to attend the program. 

Please refer to our Cancellation and Refund Policy – OE (v.2024).pdf

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