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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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