Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the point of a COBS course?
Our courses are unique educational programs.  We teach leadership skills, the value of service, and strengthen character.  The wilderness is our classroom.  Students have been coming to COBS for more than 50 years.  We take our role as a school very seriously.   Experiential learning is a teaching style that is accessible to everyone.  Our courses are challenging and fun.

For more information about what course is like, read COBS Attending Outward Bound 2014.

Are your programs designed for struggling teens, adjudicated youth or “bad kids”?
No.  Our courses are extremely demanding and students need to be motivated to complete them.  We will work with students who have made some mistakes if they are committed to our high standards for participation, safety policies, and respect for others.  We will not accept students with a history of violence or students with serious criminal backgrounds.  Our programs are not to be used as therapy or rehab programs for people with drug, alcohol, or other serious behavioral issues.

How is COBS different from other outdoor organizations?
Our curricular focus is on character development, leadership, and service.  While you will learn some technical skills, we are not trying to teach you to be a high level mountaineer or river runner.  We want to help you become a learner, teammate, and leader.  We want to give you challenging experiences that will allow you to form life-lasting values and belief in your abilities.  We are in this business to make a difference in our world.  Our Instructors are not camp counselors, but outstanding wilderness educators. We are not a guide service or a wilderness therapy program, but a vehicle for personal growth for motivated students.

Are your programs safe?
Safety is our highest priority.  We have an excellent safety record.  We do operate in the wilderness and the activities that we teach come with an inherent level of risk.  Our Instructors are trained to manage these risks much like you are trained to manage risk while driving on the highway.

Who are your Instructors?
Our Instructors are a pretty diverse group.  Most are in their late 20s, but many are much older.  Some of our best have been with COBS for 10, 15, or even 20 years!  They are all extremely competent in their chosen course activity (mountaineering, rafting, rock climbing etc.).  They are all committed to educating students about wilderness travel, leadership, and character development. Get to know our team here.

Do your Instructors have medical training?
Absolutely!  They are all certified as Wilderness First Responders, which is the industry standard and are given ongoing training in emergency response and medical treatment prior to every course.  Many have further training as Wilderness Emergency Medical Technicians.

Why should we choose COBS over another Outward Bound School?
Colorado, Utah, Alaska, Ecuador.  We run courses in amazing remote places.  Other Outward Bound schools also run amazing programs and will appeal to certain parts of the population, but Colorado Outward Bound School presents a variety of courses in some of the most beautiful wilderness areas of the United States.  We operate in true wilderness.  COBS courses are extremely physically demanding.  They are an ideal proving ground for motivated students ready to take on an extraordinary challenge.

Am I too old for a COBS course?
Probably not.  We serve students as young as 12.  There is no “cap” for older students.  If you are a physically active adult, we have a course for you.  We’ve had students as old as 87.

How fit do I need to be?
Cardiovascular fitness is most important.   We’ll expect you to engage in some form of cardio at least 3 times a week for a ½ an hour at a time.  If you are going on one of our more demanding programs like a 30-Day Mountaineering Course, then you will need to do more.  Give yourself time to train before your course starts.  You’ll get more out of the course if you can focus on something other than how tired you are.

Should I do a short course before I do a longer one?
Many of our students go straight to a three week course, or longer.  If you’ve never spent any time in the wilderness or never been away from home before, then you might consider starting with a shorter program.

What kind of prior experience do I need?
None!  We’ll start with the basics.  Many of our students have never spent any time in the wilderness before.  Some have done a little camping or indoor rock climbing.  As long as you are fit, excited to learn, and committed to graduating from your course, you will do just fine.

What do I need to bring?
We’ll provide all the technical equipment like backpacks, sleeping bags, rock climbing gear etc.  You just need to bring your personal clothing and footwear.  When you sign up for a course, we’ll send you a detailed list of what that should look like.

More Questions? 

Give us a call at 720-381-6589 or send an email to info@cobs.org.  We would love to talk to you. Or you can read more about our courses, philosophy, and national offerings in our digital viewbook below.