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: CUGL-372
Start Date: 9/10/23
End Date: 11/3/23
Located in Outward Bound's most remote course areas in scenic southern Utah, the Southwest Leadership Semester is 55 days of discovery, challenge and compassion. 55 days quickly becomes a lifetime of personal strength, leadership, and friendship.
The Southwest Leadership Semester is an exploration of the canyons and whitewater rivers of one of the most geologically stunning landscapes in the entire world. Colorado Outward Bound School semester courses are designed to develop outdoor skills, enhance leadership and communication abilities on course to transfer them home. Outward Bound balances experienced and acquired knowledge. Students learn how to descend narrow obstacle-filled slot canyons, summon the strength to lead while learning to backpack, and charge some of the biggest whitewater in the West. On course you will work for and with your community, learn technical rope systems and whitewater experience, as well as increase your knowledge and awareness of the world around you and yourself. Oh, and having loads of laughs while you’re at it.
Successful completion of your course demands development and mastery of skills, trust, fitness, confidence, tenacity, leadership, initiative, and above all compassion. The promotion of these qualities, and the discovery of what’s within you, is the purpose of Outward Bound.
With your crew, you will journey through the intriguing and difficult-to-explore canyon country, taking in the infinite shapes of the arches, towers, buttes, amphitheaters, overhangs, and domes. While doing this, you will be carrying a 45 to 60 pound backpack which will have all you need to thrive in the wilderness. Sometimes students will shed their backpacks for smaller daypacks to navigate into narrow slots or explore thousand-year-old cliff dwellings and rock art. Crews camp on expansive rock slabs, stopping along the way to explore microclimates and canyon ecosystems. All the while, you continue learning how to use maps and compasses, to cook meals for yourself and your crewmates, negotiate slickrock obstacles, find water, and live comfortably in the immense canyons. The days can be long and hard, but the canyons reward you with their jaw-dropping beauty. You will spend time in an incredible area where life becomes more in tune with the essentials of traveling through a landscape of rock, sand, sky -- feeling the sunshine on your face and watching the setting sun give way to stars.
📍Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱ (Ute) lands
Canyoneering involves exploration and travel in canyons that are often narrow, sinuous, and steep with many obstacles to negotiate. Traveling through them requires a combination of scrambling up (and down) climbing over boulders, lowering packs, maneuvering with backpacks, and possibly rappeling. This rugged, rocky terrain requires teamwork and delicate decision-making on the part of group members. Instructors will begin by teaching the foundational skills necessary for efficient travel, such as basic movement over rock and spotting techniques in order to meet the demands of the technical terrain. The group may then learn more advanced movement on rock, and roped techniques such as rappelling, knot-tying, self-rescue, and rope handling. Canyons become a puzzle and the solution means you can move forward.
📍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.
Wilderness First Aid
Despite the best risk management, sometimes accidents happen, and knowing how to respond to injuries in a backcountry setting is a key skill for aspiring outdoor leaders. During this section, you will spend two days in a classroom at our basecamp, learning about wilderness medicine. You will have the opportunity to earn a Wilderness First Aid (WFA) certification during this course, which is considered a standard for many entry level jobs in the Outdoor Industry.
📍Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱ (Ute) lands
Service to others and the environment is a core value of Outward Bound and is integrated into each course. Students follow Leave No Trace ethics as service to the environment and do acts of service while leading and supporting each other. Understanding leadership through service is an outcome of activities that require working together to meet and navigate challenges throughout course.
Canoeing is an opportunity to experience the jaw-dropping canyons and magic of the river. The tranquil waters allow for reflection and relationship-building with your canoe partner. The calm waters can change with up-canyon winds that require strength to push forward. The canoes provide you with great freedom and maneuverability. While many of the skills you learn canoeing are transferable to rafts, the small craft will demand a high level of coordination and cooperation with your canoeing partner. Canoeing allows for connection to place, water, and people.
Photo: Ashley Perry |📍Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱ (Ute), Diné, and Pueblos lands
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.
Utah Canyon Country
The most spectacular aspects of the Utah landscape are the hidden treasures found within its vast canyon networks, formed by millennia of wind and water erosion. The canyonlands of Southern Utah are still as stunning, mysterious, and wild as they were for the Ancestral Puebloans and Fremont Indians who roamed these lands over 800 years ago. The sandstone canyons are a geological playground and are composed of a spell-binding labyrinth of alcoves, fins, pinnacles, buttes, towering walls, ledges, cliff dwellings, and arches just waiting to be explored. These regions are within the ancestral lands of the Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱ (Ute), Diné Bikéyah, and Pueblo nations.
Photo: Dillon Marks |📍Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱ (Ute), Diné Bikéyah, and Pueblo lands
Cataract Canyon, Utah
You hear “ALL FORWARD!” shouted above the roar of the rapids by the captain of your raft (that could be you). Next thing you know, you’re digging your paddle blade in deep to meet some of the biggest and best whitewater of the West. One of the most rugged and beautiful canyons in the West, Cataract Canyon takes you through the heart of Canyonlands National Park. You will learn how to guide a whitewater raft as you float past natural wonders and ancient ruins to the confluence of the Colorado and Green Rivers while preparing for what awaits downstream. The Colorado River roars through 29 exciting rapids that rate with those of the Grand Canyon in power and difficulty, including the famous Mile Long Rapids and “the Big Drops.” In the nearby canyons, fantastic rock shapes carved by the whimsical forces of nature await you as your group ventures off-river to jaw-dropping views. This region is located within the ancestral lands of the Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱ (Ute).
Photo: Olivia Schneider |📍Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱ (Ute) lands
Labyrinth Canyon, Utah
You will launch on the Green river in two person canoes for 63 miles through Labyrinth Canyon. The river enters Labyrinth Canyon slowly, named for the serpentine path it carves as it dives deep into the redrock sandstone that characterizes southeastern Utah and the Canyonlands area. Narrow and winding side canyons, towering cliffs rising vertically out of the river, pinnacles and ledges all await you as you fine tune your paddling strokes. The canoes provide you with great freedom and maneuverability. While many of the skills you learn canoeing are transferable to rafts, the small craft will demand a high level of coordination and cooperation with your canoeing partner. During this phase of your course, your instructors will introduce you to the most important elements of the river life: environmental stewardship, outdoor cooking, first aid, natural history of the river canyons, the night sky, and of course, paddling skills. This region is within the ancestral lands of the Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱ (Ute) nations.
📍Núu-agha-tʉvʉ-pʉ̱ (Ute) 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.
Day 1: Course Start
Day 2-9: Canyon Backpacking
Day 10-13: Wilderness First Aid Class
Day 14-20: Canoeing
Day 21-28: Rafting Cataract Canyon, Day Hikes
Day 29-43: Transfer to the Canyons: Technical Canyoneering, Slot Canyons, Day Hikes, Solo, Canyon Backpacking
Day 44-53: Canyon Backpacking - Possible Final Expedition
Day 54-55: Final Challenge Event, Course End Ceremonies
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
These are NOT required and you will be fine without them. Please only buy them if you plan to use the items again after your course or you think they will be of great assistance to you while on course (you may be asked to leave these behind depending on weather and space available in your backpack or dry bag).
|1||Travel Insurance||COBS strongly recommends purchasing travel insurance to protect you in the event of an emergency cancellation or early medical departure. There are many companies that offer it, but we’ve seen success with Travelex Insurance. Cost varies by plan. (www.travelexinsurance.com).|
|1||Baby Wipes||Unscented. Keep in mind that you will have to pack out any used baby wipes.|
|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. ($40-$100)|
|1||Crazy Creek Chair||Crazy Creek and REI are popular brands. No chairs with legs can be brought! Must be lightweight and packable/rollable. ($20+)|
|1||Camera||Disposables are great & don’t get filled with sand. Bring multiple cameras if disposable. Digital cameras are fine, but you will have to take some extra precautions like putting it in a waterproof bag to keep out dirt, sand and water. Olympus, Canon, and Fuji all make digital waterproof/dustproof cameras.|
|1||Platypus or Camelbak (Hydration bladder)||This is not a supplement for your water bottles. Backpack hydration systems sometimes break. For that reason, please bring your water bottles as well. Hydration Systems can make hydrating while hiking in the mountains easier so you don’t have to stop to reach your water bottle. It helps to buy just the bladder, not the backpack since you will already have a backpack. These can only be used on land since they are difficult and hazardous to rig on the rafts for rapids. 3-4 Liter size is recommended. (20+)|
|1||Straw Sun Hat||Great for sun protection on the river. ($10+)|
|1||Synthetic Insulated Jacket (Puffy) or heavy Fleece||Synthetics are water-resistant and will dry quicker than down and retain warmth even when damp. 13oz.-17oz. should work well for this time of year. ($70-$200)|
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.
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