Physical Mailing Address: Northwest Outward Bound School ATTN: Student Services Department 2130 N. Kilpatrick Street, #17359 Portland, OR 97217
Below you will find important information for your time with the Northwest Outward Bound School. Please read all course details thoroughly and reach out to your Course Advisor if you have any questions as you prepare.
Prepare for Your Adventure
A Message to Parents and Guardians
Thank you for considering the Northwest Outward Bound School!
We hope the following message, our website, and your conversations with our course advisors will provide you with a clear understanding of what we do, who our students are, and what we offer students.
Although we are well-known for offering wilderness adventures to students, we are above all a character development school. Outward Bound has offered its unique courses for more than 50 years, and our founding principles and pedagogy remain the same: students who learn through experience, overcome challenges, have adventures, and do so in a supportive environment, discover more about themselves, their environment, and their direction in life. They gain technical, personal, and leadership skills. Our courses are designed to expose students to physical fitness, craftsmanship, self-reliance, and compassion. We use the wilderness and activities like rock climbing, sea kayaking, backpacking, and more to create opportunities for our learning objectives.
If your student elects to enroll in a course, they are committing to incredible self-growth, life-long memories and friendships, and an experience that will shape their identity and likely alter their path in life. We are so excited for them!
Learn more about our coursesand if Northwest Outward Bound is the right choice for you student below.
About Our Courses
Outward Bound students come from all walks of life. What unifies our students is their desire to grow, experience life, and learn new skills. Students do not need prior experience with course activities; we teach all aspects of the course experience including the technical skills. What is most important is that students are motivated to participate, open to adversity, ready to learn, and excited to support their peers. Please contact us for tips on how to talk to you child about Outward Bound.
Deciding to Attend Outward Bound
We are an “at-will” school, meaning students decide to participate and are genuinely excited about the course. We do not accept students who are enrolling due to the wishes or coercion of parents/guardians or the judicial system. Other organizations exist that do accept students who are ambivalent about participating. If your student is not motivated to participate, please search for one of these other organizations.
Outward Bound is NOT a Wilderness Therapy Program
We do not provide therapy on our courses, and students who are currently or have recently (within 3 months) experienced significant mental health challenges are probably not ready for an Outward Bound course. We are taking students into new environments and routines with new people, teaching them new skills, and providing challenges to overcome. While on course, they will not communicate with friends, family, mentors, or mental health counselors. The typical progression for students who have experienced significant mental health challenges (substance addiction, suicidal ideation, self-harm, abuse, recent medication changes, or other significant challenges) is to first participate in in-patient therapy, wilderness therapy, outpatient therapy, and then an Outward Bound course if they so desire
Outward Bound is Not Summer Camp
Our programs are designed to be physically, emotionally and mentally challenging. The courses are consistently fun and engaging for students, but they may also experience feelings of hesitation, homesickness or frustration. These feelings arise from being outside of their comfort zone, which is where we believe that the most effective learning takes place.
Room, Board, and Environment
Students sleep in tarp shelters that they build themselves. They cook nutritious and simple meals themselves. There are no bathrooms, showers, or buildings of any kind on most courses. Weather on course can be adverse including snow, rain, wind, extreme cold and heat, lightning, and hail. We teach students to safely handle these weather conditions. Our courses are empowering, and life-changing because of the myriad challenges, not in spite of them. Your student will surely grow and change, and come home stronger and more mature.
Mental and Social Preparation
Below are a few important things we suggest preparing for mentally prior to your Outward Bound course:
Be ready to be part of a team. Think about other team experiences you have had in the past whether they are sports teams, school plays or business meetings. Come up with a few observations about what has made your teams successful in the past and plan on being a positive contributor during your course.
Living with Less
Look around your house and the “real” world and think about what you have and what you need. Things you currently take for granted like hot running water, upholstered furniture and sidewalks will not be part of your experience. When you get the rhythm of wilderness living, you will see that despite the complexity of your everyday life, life on the trail and life at home are both ultimately about food, clothing, shelter and each other. We will also ask you to leave behind non-essentials like deodorant, make up, electronic devices and books.
Being Away from Home
Whether it is the first or the 27th time you have been away from home for a long period of time, you might not have been this out of touch before. The feeling of being alone and away from family might not happen immediately but in a lot of cases it will occur while on course. Please use your instructors and teammates as resources as they are there for help. If you think you might feel homesick, let us know. We can help you come up with some ideas to address it.
Compassion is one of Outward Bound’s core values. Be prepared to offer it and expect it from your teammates. You will travel with and rely on a group of strangers each of whom have different reasons for attending Outward Bound and will come with varying levels of physical and mental strength. You may find that you will need to make compromises in your own expectations to support other members of your team. It is important to remember that in such a small group setting, your attitude and actions affect everyone.
Outward Bound delivers learning, in large part, by discussing course experiences. By considering the experience through group discussion before and after, you are more able to hold onto the value of each experience and take it home with you. Be prepared to share your perspective and gain insight from others on your expedition.
Adopting a daily exercise routine may be challenging, but every minute you put in prior to your course will pay off once you are on course. Exercising three times a week for 30 minutes is the minimum, five or six times for 30-60 minutes a week is optimum.
Please contact your Course Advisor to learn about specific training needed for your course activities. It is always a good idea to consult your physician before starting any fitness program.
Adopt Healthy Habits
Arrive at your course start well rested.
Reduce consumption of fatty foods, and excessive alcohol and caffeine, as these substances require a lot of water and oxygen to metabolize.
Eat plenty of unrefined carbohydrates (i.e. whole grains).
Drink water regularly and whenever you’re thirsty, instead of juice or soda.
If you use tobacco, please prepare to be on course without it as we do not allow any form of alcohol or drugs (including vaping) on course.
Vector-borne Disease Information
In recent times in North America, one risk that we face in the wilderness environment is the transmission of vector-borne illnesses (from mosquito and tick bites). Outward Bound is working hard every day to educate and protect against vector-borne illness transmission. While there is no complete protection from a mosquito or tick bite, or the illnesses they may transmit, whether you are in the wilderness or in your backyard, we hope the information and recommendations in the document below will help you prepare for course.
Maintaining health and well-being in the wilderness is important, and outdoor hygiene is taught on every course. Please read this Personal Hygiene on Course document for more information about what to expect for general hygiene and what to bring for menstruation.
Communication With Student On Course
We understand that family and friends may want to communicate with students while they are on course. We operate on a “no news is good news” basis. This means family members typically will not hear from us nor receive updates during the course. Course instructors check in with the base camp regularly via satellite phone. Important news regarding student safety or health will be relayed to you immediately.
If you have any questions or need to get in contact while your student is on course, you can reach a staff member at the following numbers:
During regular business hours, Monday-Friday 8:30AM - 5PM (Pacific)
Student Services: (503) 946-3404 Option 3
Weekday evenings (until 8PM), or on weekends 8:30AM- 8PM (Pacific):
Oregon: (541) 699- 1001 Option 0
Washington: (509) 996-3170
Due to the remote nature of our courses in the wilderness, and the fact that most of our courses do not spend time at our base camps, it can be very difficult to get mail to students and they may not receive mail until course end.
Below are some guidelines and timelines to follow if you wish to send students mail: