Your course advisor will be in touch with you within one business day. If you have immediate questions about your enrollment, call 720-381-6589.
Welcome to the Colorado Outward Bound School! This is a place of challenge, learning, and community and we’re so glad you’re joining our crew. As you’re getting ready for your course experience, we wanted to share with you a bit more about what to expect. A COBS course is designed to provide students with the opportunity to face new challenges in a supportive environment; to find success through mistakes; and to navigate through adversity with compassion for self and others. The breathtaking mountains, rivers, and canyons of Colorado and Utah are our classroom. And the life lessons are as limitless as the views.
As in all of life’s adventures, elements outside of our control may require adjustments to the details and we often adapt our itineraries to meet dynamic environments, but one thing’s for sure: we’re going to connect with new people, try new things, and explore some amazing places together. Here at COBS, we believe there is more in you than you know and we’ll use the inherent beauty and challenge of the natural world to test our comfort zones and to discover opportunities to work hard, learn, and reflect. And the memories you’ll take home will last a lifetime. Read on and we’ll see you soon!
Course Code: CUYN-341
Start Date: 7/8/23
End Date: 7/22/23
The Southwest Rafting and Backpacking course takes you from whitewater in the depths that could be as deep as the Grand Canyon to lofty alpine summits more than 12,000' high! Students learn skills like how to cook in the backcountry, captain through rapids, and navigate while backpacking. These outdoor skills act as a amplifier to learning more about place, community and yourself to be a successful member of the team. On course you will learn what connects strength to service, place to peace, and challenge to compassion.
We know that teens represent a diverse group. For some students, Outward Bound is their first time away from home; others are veteran travelers who have attended Outward Bound before. We plan our youth courses to set students up for success no matter where they are starting on the spectrum of wilderness experience. The mental, social, and physical challenges you will encounter at the Colorado Outward Bound School are very real and facing them is a very real accomplishment. These courses provide a structured environment with clear expectations and a daily routine that give you direction so that you can learn and exercise personal responsibility and group leadership skills.
Alpine Backpacking will develop a foundational outdoor skillset for students allowing comfortable living during course. Traveling mostly above treeline, students will carry everything they need - food, shelter, clothing and gear – allowing them to go deep into the wilderness where few people go. Backpacking provides a sense of freedom, allowing students to eat when hungry, set up camp when tired, and exercise complete control over what is accomplished each day. The simplicity of backpacking gives students the opportunity to focus both internally on their own thoughts, as well as externally to connect deeply with others as they talk, sing, play games and spend time together without distraction. With the Colorado Rockies as a backdrop, students are introduced to backpacking with lessons in basic travel and camping techniques. As this section progresses, students learn Leave No Trace techniques, map and compass navigation, camp craft, and obtain an understanding of the area’s human and natural history.
Photo: Dave Erbe |📍Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱ (Ute) lands
On the river, each day is spent learning to navigate various obstacles and how to anticipate the forces of the current from upstream. You and your companions will work to become a team, coordinating your spacing and paddle strokes. You will have an opportunity to be the captain of your crew and put to use what you’ve learned as you maneuver your raft through Class II-III rapids. Interspersed between the rapids are flat-water sections where there is a current, but no whitewater. At times, you will take advantage of this calm water to hone your skills and enjoy the view. Time in a raft is ideal for getting to know each other and forming boat pride, laughing your way downriver as you relax into river life. Afternoons can bring strong up-canyon winds, which create a challenge as you dig in to reach the camping destination. Rafting connects you to the river: the oasis of flora and fauna (including humans!) that rely on the river to survive in the desert. The soaring canyons complement the roar of whitewater, as well as the silences that can only be found in such remote beauty.
Photo: Curtis Huey |📍Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱ (Ute), Diné, and Pueblos lands
Guided Reflection and Transference
At Outward Bound we believe there is no learning without reflection. Throughout course, you will be prompted to reflect on what you’re experiencing on course, and what it means in the greater context of your life. Sometimes this is a journaling exercise, sometimes a group sharing experience, and sometimes a moment of solitude to sit and think. You spend focused time toward course progression end exploring how your new knowledge, skills and attributes can apply to your life after course.
Depending on your course length and environmental factors, your solo may range from a few hours to an overnight experience. Solo provides an important break from the rigors of both the expedition and the distractions from everyday life. This is a truly once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. With sufficient food and equipment, you’ll have time to journal, rest, reflect, and look ahead to future goals. Your solo site will be close enough to the Instructors in case of emergency, but far enough removed to assure your solitude. You will not travel during this time and your Instructors will check on you occasionally. Many students are initially nervous about solo, but later recall solo as one of the highlights of their entire course.
Some projects focus on land restoration and are coordinated with partners and land managers like the US Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management and National Park Service. Other projects are grounded in social services, and may include visiting a nursing home or hospital. Past projects include working on a goat farm, building trails, cleaning trash and debris from natural spaces, working with a local community garden, and removing invasive species. Seeing the impact of their actions firsthand, students develop a value of service, and transfer this desire to serve their communities back home.
In addition to the expedition itself and all of the skills and learning associated with it, Outward Bound’s time-tested curriculum includes education on the many aspects of personal growth and learning that can be found in each activity you undertake. You will learn four important Outward Bound Core Values:
You may find that the most important lessons you take home are learning about yourself and your community while acquiring backcountry skills and having an adventure. You’ll learn to protect and appreciate the unique, unspoiled environments through which you travel.
Successful completion of your course demands mastery of skills, trust, fitness, confidence, tenacity, leadership, initiative and compassion. The promotion of these qualities and the discovery of what’s in you is the purpose of Outward Bound.
La Sal Mountains, Utah
The La Sal Mountains rise dramatically out of the desert, towering 9,000’ above the surrounding canyonlands and the sporting mecca of Moab. This range was originally named when the Spanish came through in the early 1500s and they mistook the snow for salt. The La Sals are known for their groves of aspen, rich amount of wildlife, high summits, and incredible views overlooking Canyonlands and Arches National Park and the Four Corners area. Hidden lakes dot the landscape. Peaks in the La Sals range from ten thousand to just under thirteen thousand feet and include the highest mountains in Southern Utah. The La Sal Mountains are within the ancestral lands of the Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱ (Ute).
Photo: Dave Erbe |📍Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱ (Ute) lands
Desolation and Gray Canyons, Utah
Surrounded by the Tavaputs Plateau and bordered by the Uinta and Ouray Reservation on the east, the journey on the Green River begins in Desolation Canyon near Sand Wash. Throughout the canyon, there are spectacular rock formations, ancient Native American archaeological sites and abandoned ranches including McPherson Ranch, once frequented by Butch Cassidy's “Wild Bunch.” The tiered rock walls of Desolation give way to the earthy bluffs of Gray Canyon, creating a striking contrast that characterizes the next 25 miles of the journey.
On longer rafting courses you may continue your journey down the Green River through Labyrinth Canyon, where the river dives deep into the pink sandstone of the Navajo Formation which characterizes southeastern Utah and the Canyonlands area with narrow winding side canyons, orange Wingate cliffs, pinnacles and ledges. These regions are within the ancestral lands of the Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱ (Ute) and Diné Bikéyah nations.
Photo: Harmony McCoy |📍Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱ (Ute) and Diné Bikéyah lands
What is a land acknowledgment?
At the Colorado Outward Bound School, we include land acknowledgments in our work as a formal way to recognize and respect the traditional territories and Indigenous Peoples as stewards of the land. It is important to understand and acknowledge the comprehensive past, present, and future of the places we travel and to seek to understand our role therein. To recognize the land is an expression of gratitude and appreciation we give to the Indigenous Peoples who have been living and working on the land from time immemorial. Read more about land acknowledgments at Outward Bound here.
Click here for COBS COVID-19 Program Practices
Please have the student's name, course number, course start date and balance due when using this payment option.
In most cases, a $500 deposit has been paid when you applied. Please refer to your Enrollment Email to confirm your balance. If you are unsure of your balance due, please call 720-381-6589 or email [email protected].
If your payment is not received by the due date listed in your Enrollment Email, you will risk losing your position on the course and your $500 deposit. Please review the Admissions and Cancellation Policies.
Packing for Backcountry Travel
Backcountry travel means you can and, for your comfort, should carry a lot less than you do in the regular world; most experienced backcountry travelers will tell you that they bring about the same amount of gear on a three-day trip as they would on a three-week trip.
Your COBS Packing List:
What to Wear While Travelling:
We recommend you wear course clothing and boots while travelling and bring all essentials (prescription meds, insurance card copy, cash) in a carry-on. This will minimize the inconvenience in the unlikely event your luggage is delayed in transport. Being dressed for course will also further the efficiency on your first day, especially since front country bathrooms and private changing areas are rarely available.
Gear that Outward Bound Provides
Please note Outward Bound provides all other equipment including but not limited to sleeping bags & pads, backpacks, camp gear. There are no additional fees for the use of our equipment. If you have your own equipment and it meets the below criteria, you are welcome to bring it with you. Please be aware that your instructors will assess it for appropriateness and may ask you to use Outward Bound gear in lieu of your own if they do not find your gear adequate for your particular course.
If you DO wish to bring some of your own gear, here are our minimum standards for what MAY be acceptable for few common items
If you DO wish to bring some of your own gear:
Here are our minimum standards for what MAY be acceptable for a few common items.
If you bring your own equipment, it will be inspected by your instructor at the beginning of your course. If it does not meet our standards you can store it in a secure location during your course.
Outer Layers: must fit over all other layers
Head and Hands
Travel to and From Course
|1||Travel Insurance||COBS strongly recommends purchasing travel insurance to protect you in the event of an emergency cancellation or early medical departure.|
|Bring stamps and envelopes if you would like to send mail. Consider pre-stamping and pre-addressing them before course. Put in a zip-lock bag with paper and pens.
|1||Camera||Most people bring small, digital cameras or disposable 35mm cameras. Large cameras (SLRs, for example) are heavy, bulky and difficult to protect in the backcountry. Bring multiple cameras if disposable. If bringing a non- disposable camera, consider taking extra precautions like putting it in a Ziploc bag or Pelican hard case to keep out dirt and sand.|
Recommended if you are a light sleeper.
|1||Crazy Creek Chair||
Crazy Creek and REI are popular brands. No chairs with legs can be brought! Must be lightweight and packable/rollable
|1||Water Filter||COBS disinfects all wilderness water with iodine, bleach, or by boiling. Not all of these methods are effective against cryptosporidium. Immunocompromised people may wish to obtain an appropriate water filter for their course.
|1||Straw Sunhat||Great while on the river.
|1||Sarong||A sarong is a large length of fabric that is often used for sun protection while rafting. It has many other uses as well. If you are unable to find a sarong an unfitted twin cotton sheet will also work.
Items not Allowed on Course:
Weather During Your Course:
Expect summer daytime temperatures in the mountains ranging from 60-85 degrees with nighttime temperatures ranging from 35-50 degrees. On the river, daytime highs will generally range from 80-100 degrees (pro-tip: avoid dark colors since they absorb more heat) with nighttime lows ranging from 50-60 degrees. Despite these recommendations of what is “normal weather,” our course environments are characterized by unpredictable weather—snow and freezing weather as well as 105 degree heat are all within the realm of possible weather during the summer, although rare. Please bring everything on this list since weather patterns can change quickly, especially over the course of 50 days through varying elevations. Once you arrive at course start, your instructors will update you on current weather patterns and what clothing will be appropriate.
Walker Field Airport (GJT)
Upstairs Near Vending Machines
Grand Junction, CO
Please meet your COBS instructor and group at the airport no later than 1:00 PM on the first day of the course. It is a small airport, and we will do a roll call to ensure all participants are located. Parents will be notified only if a student does not arrive as expected. If you are dropping your child off in person, please arrive at the airport between 12:30 PM – 1:00 PM.
The van is scheduled to arrive at the Walker Field/Grand Junction Airport (GJT) by 11:00 AM. We cannot guarantee that you will be able to make a flight before 12:00 PM, so plan your itinerary accordingly.
TRAVEL PROBLEMS AND EMERGENCY CONTACT:
If you encounter problems with your travel plans that will delay your arrival to Grand Junction, we can help troubleshoot solutions to get you to course start. Call us at 720.381.6589 and press option #2 (emergencies) and continue to follow the directions for a travel emergency on a Utah course. Make certain to leave your name, course, and call-back number if you are leaving a voicemail. In the event of an emergency (such as a death in the family) where you need to reach a student who is on course, follow the prompts for critical emergency for a student currently on a course. This will route to an on-call cell phone and you will get a prompt return call as indicated by the message.
UNACCOMPANIED MINOR PROVISION
If your student is 14 years old or younger, some airlines require you to purchase an unaccompanied minor ticket. This will cost an additional $200-$300 fee. This ticket will provide an authorized airline employee to supervise your student during the flight. Upon arrival, students will be picked up, and later dropped off, at the gate by a COBS employee chaperone. Parents of older students may also opt into this service.
When booking the ticket, please provide the airline with parent/guardian contact information as a placeholder for the chaperone. Within one week of course start, your Course Advisor will email you the name and contact information of the COBS employee chaperone. At that time, you can update your airline.
We cannot ensure this support without advance notice. We want to help make course start and course end travel as seamless as possible for students and families. Please inform us if your child is designated as an unaccompanied minor. Please note that our staff may need to pick up multiple students on the same day and may not be at the gate at the exact arrival time. Please allow at least 20 minutes after arrival for staff to arrive at the gate.
For more information on travel to course start please read “Attending Outward Bound”.
If you need to arrive in Grand Junction the day before the course start and/or spend the last night in Grand Junction, we recommend you contact the CLARION INN to make reservations.
755 Horizon Dr.
Grand Junction, CO 81506
Direct: (970) 243-6790
By calling the Clarion Inn directly, you can obtain a discounted rate for Outward Bound students - you must identify yourself as one when making reservations. The hotel also offers the following: free shuttle to/from airport, indoor pool, hot tub, exercise room, restaurant, and in-room movies. Please make reservations 45 days in advance or ASAP.
Frequently Asked Questions
Click here for college credit registration and instructions for how to use 529 college funds to pay for an Outward Bound course
Click here to learn more
Once you submit your initial application, your COBS Course Advisor will send you an enrollment email that contains links to the forms we need you to complete and submit online
Click here to read an example of a typical day on course and what you can do to be prepared
Click here to review COBS Essential Eligibility Criteria
Click here for ideas to prepare for and manage homesickness
Embarking upon multi-week expedition without most of our comforts from home can be an unfamiliar challenge, and receiving letters from family and/or friends can be incredibly encouraging for everyone on an expedition. Your mail will be delivered to you at transfers and resupplies as well as at the end of course. Your family and friends can send mail to you at the following address. Any undelivered mail received after the course will be forwarded to your home address. Please ask them to mail the letters at least 6 days before the course end. Packages are subject to opening prior to delivery to the student. Packages should be sent via UPS or FedEx as the USPS will not deliver packages all the way to our basecamp. Letters can be sent through the USPS.
Name and Course #
c/o Colorado Outward Bound School
16 Ranch Road
Moab, Utah 84532
Your instructors will explain the details of backcountry hygiene when you arrive. Groups carry soap and/or hand sanitizer for hand washing. Every student is given one wet wipe per day. You are welcome to bring and additional personal supply. Sometimes there are creeks, rivers, or lakes that groups can splash around in. Although showering and washing hair are not an option while on course, and there are usually no opportunities to wash clothing, it is not as bad as it sounds and we are all in it together.
Every course environment has different techniques and environmentally appropriate practices for going to the bathroom. You will learn how to dispose of human waste in latrines, cat holes, groovers, or other wilderness-area specific methods.
Getting your Period on Course
Diet, altitude, & fitness level can unexpectedly bring on your period or postpone it. You may experience irregularities while out on course. Choose the method you are most comfortable with such as pads, menstrual cups, or tampons and include extra/supplemental supplies. Many of our staff love a reusable menstrual cup (MeLuna, DivaCup or Lena), because it reduces the amount of waste that you will need to carry and pack out. If you’ve never used a menstrual cup, we recommend you research and trial it before course. If using tampons, consider a non-applicator tampon to reduce bulk and waste that needs to be carried. Feel free to contact your course advisor with any questions. Regardless of your choice, we are able to share practices for managing periods and supplies in the backcountry and provide all the supplies to manage waste.
Click here for guidance
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.
Please have the student's name, course number, course start date and balance due when using this payment option.
In most cases, a $500 deposit has been paid when you applied. Please refer to your Enrollment Email to confirm your balance*. If you are unsure of your balance due, please call (720) 381-6589 or email [email protected].
If your payment is not received by the due date listed in your Enrollment Email, you will risk losing your position on the course and your $500 deposit.
Please review the Admissions and Cancellation Policies.
Still have questions? Click here for more FAQs