Course Code: CUYH-342
Start Date: 7/25/23
End Date: 8/8/23
The Southwest Canoeing and Rafting course is an exploration of the canyons and whitewater rivers of one of the most geologically stunning landscapes in the entire world. In places, the canyon rims rise thousands of feet above, cradling you in a remote world of rushing water, and delicate ecosystems. Students learn skills like how to rig a canoe, to cook in the backcountry, and captain through rapids. The outdoor skills act as a amplifier to learning more about place, community and yourself. 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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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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.
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