Enrolling your child for the first time in an Outward Bound outdoor education course can leave you with a lot of questions. Parents who have no previous experience with outdoor education or are themselves not very comfortable in the outdoors naturally have numerous doubts about what expects their child on the course.
In this post we’re going to give you the answers to the 7 questions we most often get asked before our courses from our participants’ parents and teachers:
Is it safe?
The most common question we receive from teachers and parents who consider enrolling their children in an Outward Bound outdoor education course is how safe our courses are.
The answer is:
the courses are as safe as possible with a reasonable amount of risk that cannot be excluded from any outdoor activity.
All our instructors are, in addition to general first aid procedures, trained specifically for first response in wilderness settings. High-risk activities, such as sport rock climbing and caving are conducted by specialist instructors with large expertise in alpinism and speleology. However, at any moment during the course, the group is quickly reachable by the logistics’ vehicle who can respond within minutes in case of an emergency.
What activities are involved in the course?
There is no typical OBC course since all our courses are tailored to the needs of a particular group or individuals who are enrolled. The amount of different outdoor activities largely depends on the length of a course.
Generally, all courses will involve a land-expedition during which participants navigate by themselves from camp to camp using a map and a compass. Courses usually also involve setting up a camp-site, cooking on fire and sleeping in bivouacs or tents.
On longer courses where participants are ready to challenge themselves a little more, they will also try out sport rock climbing and belaying as well as repelling from a rock. Some courses will also include caving. A particularly attractive activity which is involved in courses that last for several days, weather conditions permitting, is kayaking on the river Lika.
We also like to include a community service activity in our courses, such as environmental cleaning actions, in order to develop the participants’ compassion towards the community and the environment.
How challenging is the course?
The most accurate answer we can give you is the following:
The courses are challenging but manageable for every participant, no matter his or her physical fitness or mental strength. Our instructors are responsible for adapting the level of challenge to each group’s needs and possibilities and there is a rule that we always enforce:
it’s called Challenge by Choice.
Which means participants are at no moment forced to do anything they feel absolutely uncomfortable about.
However, the course is meant to push the participants’ inner boundaries and put them out of their comfort zone, which is naturally not very comfortable. The instructors and the rest of the group are there to support each individual and make sure that he or she gives and gets the most out of the experience on the course.
The level of challenge will vary from course to course and participant to participant and can depend on the length of the course, the weather conditions, the activities involved or the distances that need to be crossed in a day by walking.
Do I have to buy any outdoor gear for my child?
The good news is:
you don’t have to buy any outdoor gear for participating in an OBC course.
WE provide all the outdoor equipment, including backpacks, sleeping bags and mats, headlamps and all group equipment. Participants only need to bring personal belongings which they would take on any school trip where they spend time outside, such as comfortable clothes, hygiene articles, and medicine.
You will receive a packing list for your child’s specific course in advance which you can use as a help in your preparations. Even if you’re still considering whether to apply, you can already have a look at our general packing list
What kind of food is provided on the course?
Since our courses are expedition-based and participants usually carry all they need in their backpacks to the camp-site, they will be provided with typical expedition food for those days:
- Food high in nutrients and calories (such as nuts and dried fruit, dried meat and solid cheese, oats, muesli bars, fresh fruit & veggies such as apples, oranges, peppers, carrots, and cucumbers) – to provide the necessary energy for the activities of the day
- Dry food (such a canned fish, meat- and vegetable-spread, bread) that doesn’t need to be refrigerated and can stay in a backpack several days without going bad
- Pre-cooked or easily prepared food (such as pasta, Bolognese sauce, ragout, rice, bean stew, sausages, etc) – that participants can cook on a campfire in the evening
While participants are stationed in our center, warm meals can be prepared by our cooks. During the expedition, participants are the responsible ones for organizing their meals. During the daily hike, they will reload their energy from dried food and snacks, while dinners will be prepared by them on the campfire.
If you are worried about any special dietary needs your child might have:
it is important that you let us know in advance and we are going to ensure that every participant has all the specific food they need.
What teaching methods are being used on the course?
Outward Bound courses present an intense experience to participants because they are entirely based on the experiential learning method and all activities happen in the outdoors.
Experiential learning can be easily explained using the Kolb cycle and involves four phases. The entire course and each particular activity within it is structured according to the following four phases:
If you’re interested in finding out more about experiential learning in the outdoors, have a look at this blog-post!
Why should my child take part in an Outward Bound course?
The benefits of taking part in an outdoor education course are numerous and to describe all of them would go beyond this post. However, we will list the most important outcomes that we aim for at Outward Bound Croatia:
- Increased awareness of own skills and abilities
- Improved self-confidence
- Improved ability to listen and communicate effectively with others
- Improved awareness and concern for the natural environment
- Increased resilience and determination
Some of our courses additionally have specific learning outcomes, namely to increase participants’ teamwork or leadership skills.
Going on an Outward Bound outdoor education course for the first time can be intimidating for a student and as a parent, you will want to support your child as good as possible during the preparations. Although it’s only natural you will have a mountain of questions before your child’s first Outward Bound course, we hope to have resolved the most urgent one in this post. You can browse our blog section for more topics about Outward Bound courses.
Is there any question you asked yourself before your child’s first Outward Bound Croatia course that we left out? Let us know in the comments section below!
Have a look at this blog post, where a young participant shares her experience from an Outward Bound Croatia spring course.
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