Outward Bound Experiences for Children

If your child will be at least 12 years old this summer, they are ready for an adventure of a lifetime. Outward Bound is the nation’s foremost wilderness adventure school. With five core programs, Outward Bound has a diverse menu of extraordinary adventures and challenge programs, the goal of which is to inspire your child’s own character development, self-confidence and self-discovery. Here’s a helpful survey of the Outward Bound “landscape” that your child can traverse.


Outward Bound Wilderness is the signature program of the organization. The program offers over 500 adventures in wilderness settings across the country and beyond. Kids are kept in age-appropriate groups (12-13 or 14-16) so that the courses can be appropriately focused. Courses vary from New England Sea Kayaking to Rock Mountain Expedition, and everything in between.


With basecamps in five major metropolitan areas (Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, New York City, and Philadelphia), the Outward Bound Urban Centers offer single day and expedition length course for kids who otherwise might never have the opportunity to experience the great outdoors. The courses engage the participants in their public school classrooms as well as through outdoor adventures, with the goal of fostering self-reliance, confidence, compassion, leadership and community activism. To investigate the possibilities of enrolling your child in an urban center, you should either contact Outward Bound or contact the participating middle school or high school directly.


Serving at-risk and delinquent youth, Outward Bound Discovery packages its proven-successful formula for building self-confidence, character, and a sense of responsibility with novel experiences to benefit this specific population of youth. Options are available for at-risk youth (e.g. truancy issues, poor-decision making, drug/alcohol experimentation, etc) and court committed juveniles (e.g. non-violent, first time offenders). Participant range in age from 12 to 18 and are available to kids throughout the country (although the court committed programs are limited to South Carolina and Florida).


Through their various programs, Outward Bound has helped thousands of this nation’s youth navigate the wilderness that exists between childhood/youth to young adulthood. The organization has withstood the test of time and has a committed alumni, testaments to Outward Bounds’ ability to successful meet their goal of helping to create adults who can actively participate in creating a better world.

As a non-profit organization, Outward Bound can keep their course fees relatively low. However, the programs can still be quite expensive. Fees for the courses can range from $2500 to $4000. In addition, getting all the required gear can get quite expensive. Some of the more expensive group items are provided, some of the other personal gear can be rented. Still, if this will be your child’s first big outdoor expedition, there will quite a lot of gear to get.

Yet, this is the only criticism I can levy against their programs. I have known many individuals who have completed Outward Bound programs and each and every one is thankful for their experience and truly believes their lives are changed for the better. To paraphrase a popular T.V. commercial that sums it up: brand new hiking boots $200; Outward Bound fee $3000; my kid’s self-confidence and strength of character..

If you have not yet settled on plans for you child this summer, Outward Bound deserves your consideration. Don’t let the fee scare you as scholarships are available. Send your child away for the summer and they will return a young adult with confidence to be who they want to be and more tools to contribute positively to their community. For more information, visit the Outward Bound website at www.outwardbound.org.