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Maine Rangeley Lakes canoeing expeditions explore the waterways of western Maine. This is an opportunity for those seeking a fresh challenge in a unique wilderness environment and a collaborative team setting. On the lakes and rivers, students learn to camp and travel simply, relying on each other and what they can carry with them.
In a phased teaching progression, instructors will introduce beginning, intermediate and advanced skills in lake navigation, paddling technique, woods craftsmanship, weather observation and campsite selection. Regular group discussions allow for reflection on each day’s progress, and ensure that leadership and responsibilities are shared so that every crew member is integral to planning the next day. Through living and working closely together, students learn far more than wilderness travel skills. The habits learned and strengthened through this backpacking and canoeing expedition will serve students for life, and for whatever challenge is next.
On this course you will expedition through the picturesque and historic Rangeley Lakes of western Maine. You will depart the base camp on the first or second day of the course and not return until the end. You will carry what you need for as much as a week in your backpack and you will paddle nearly every day. You do not need to have previous canoeing experience. We will teach you everything you need to know to travel comfortably, including how to pack a canoe, maneuver a canoe, set up a wilderness campsite, rock climb, and navigate using a map and compass. Arriving physically fit will enhance your experience and ability to do well on the course and ultimately allow you to take full advantage of the expedition.
Part, or most, of your course will be focused on learning wilderness canoe expedition skills. You will canoe on lakes and rivers, learning paddle strokes such as the draw, pry, and J-stroke. You may also learn about lining (guiding your canoe down un-runnable rapids) as you travel through some of the amazing waterways of Maine. In learning to work and communicate well with your paddling partner each day you will discover the power of two people truly working together.
The solo experience is a standard element of Outward Bound courses. With sufficient food and equipment, you will set up camp at a site on your own. The solo will last anywhere from a few hours to a few days, depending on the length of your course. Your solo site is chosen to offer as much solitude as possible, yet be within hearing distance of other group members. You will not travel during this time alone, and your instructors will check on you occasionally. The solitude and break from the fast pace of your expedition allows for rest and personal reflection, which is necessary to make the most of your experience.
Our courses end with a Personal Challenge Event, an individual final physical push. These events might take the form of a running, rowing or swimming activity, or it may be a combination of the three. This event is a chance to finish your Outward Bound Experience with a true personal challenge where you can own all of your decisions and efforts in contrast to the time you have spent operating within an expedition team.
The essential goal of any Outward Bound course is for the students to learn autonomy. Our expedition curriculum supports this happening in a progressive way.
During the first third of a course (a phase called “training expedition”), the instructors are very present in the group. They teach outdoor skills, the technical aspects of the activities and guide the students as they form a team.
In the middle third of the course (what we call the “main expedition”), the instructors take a step back so students may step forward. Students begin to teach what they’ve already learned to each other, and experiment with applying basic skills to bigger challenges. The instructors continue to coach and support as the students practice leadership roles. When the group meets a particular situation, environment or activity they haven’t learned about before, the instructors jump back in and teach. Each time this happens, the group reaches competency more quickly.
By the last third of the course (the “final expedition”), students are the stars of the show. They are applying what they know, leading each other, setting goals, and solving problems collaboratively. The instructors are close by and ready to step back in to prevent a safety issue from occurring but will let students find their own resiliency when they make mistakes, and ensure they feel the full spotlight of success when they meet their goals.
Your canoeing course area will be within the upper reaches of the Androscoggin, Penobscot, Kennebec, and/or Allagash watersheds, which are fed by Moosehead Lake and the Rangeley Lakes. Indigenous Abenaki peoples used these waterways as both a means of transportation between winter habitats inland, summer living on the coast, and as a source of food. The great rivers of Maine were used to move logs to mills downstate during the logging boom of the nineteenth century. These days the lakes and rivers are used primarily by canoeists, fishermen, and other recreationalists. Some of the portage trails here, such as along the Rapid River, have been in use for centuries.
On your HIOBS program, you will learn four important Outward Bound Core Values:
Some of the most important lessons you take home are learning about yourself and your community while acquiring backcountry skills and having an adventure. As you will be traveling through wild places on your expedition, you’ll also learn to protect and appreciate the unique, unspoiled environments through which you travel.
After the physical and interpersonal intensity of war, reintegrating back into civilian life can be profoundly challenging. Outward Bound 6-day courses for veterans are opportunities for participants to share camaraderie, stories, and support, and to apply their proven organizational and teamwork skills towards common goals in a beautiful peaceful setting. After course, participants report greater self-confidence, and experience healthier and more balanced lives. The expedition may only last a week, but the strength of the experience will be with you for a lifetime.
Our Veterans Programs are designed to be fun, fast and challenging, and suited for those in good physical condition. We make the most of the organizational and teamwork skills you learned in the military to move groups straight into the field. Once on expedition, Outward Bound training will bring you up to speed on our wilderness travel expectations. Leadership skills will be tested as participants take over responsibility for the crew and make community plans and decisions. Our staff, sometimes Veterans themselves, have extensive experience in sailing, backpacking, climbing, canoeing, and working with groups. Rely on them for information and safety, but ultimately the success of the experience rests with you and your fellow veterans.
In the wilderness, the only things you and your fellow veterans have to work with is the gear you bring along, your skills, abilities and each other. As a community, the group works together to deal with decisions about navigation, camp locations, duties, and chain of command, while helping each other overcome obstacles and meet challenges.
Removed from the distractions of every day life, you create a safe learning environment with your teammates in a wilderness environment. Take this opportunity to compare learnings and get advice from other people who are adjusting to life after military life. Very often this is the first time participants have had a chance to discuss their challenges in a supportive, non-confrontational forum surrounded by fellow veterans and the beauty of the country for which they have fought.
The only expense to you is in your time, getting the correct clothing and footwear, and any incidentals - like food associated with travel. Outward Bound and the generous donors who make our Veterans Programs possible are making a significant commitment to our military service members.
It is imperative that, once you commit, you follow through and attend the course. If you cancel for reasons other than deployment, you will assume financial responsibility for the plane tickets purchased for you rather than deplete the funds generously provided by our donors and you will be charged a Cancellation Fee. Our investment in planning, staffing, and provisioning cannot be recovered in the event of short notice cancellations. If you have to cancel due to some unforeseen emergency, please let your Course Advisor know immediately, as given enough time, we can most likely make your space available to another veteran.
Please pay attention to the due dates listed in your Welcome Email. If due dates are not met, you risk losing your position on course - our policies on cancellations and deadlines are outlined in the Admission Handbook.
If you are having trouble getting the information together, or have any questions at all, please contact your Course Advisor immediately so we can help you.
You are welcome to bring extras of the items marked with a plus (+) sign. Where a range of quantities is indicated, e.g., “1-2” bring the smaller quantity if you are on a one-week course, and the larger quantity if your course is 10 days or longer. There are multiple brand name options available at varying prices. The clothing and equipment on this list is widely available in many places. Specialty outdoor stores like L.L.Bean, REI, Campmorand Eastern Mountain Sportswill have a range of appropriate items to choose from. Discount retailers, like Sierra Trading Postand the REI Garage often have good prices on name-brand gear and clothing. You may also locate many first- quality clothing and equipment items at military surplus stores and area consignment stores and thrift stores, such as Goodwilland The Salvation Army.
The HIOBS website has some great items. A complete collection of HIOBS-recommended-for-course items can be found HERE. Please contact your course advisor for suggestions.
Packing several light layers rather than fewer heavier layers allows you more flexibility as the weather and workloads change. Inner layers should fit closely, middle layers should fit loosely and outer layers should be just a little bit baggy. When shopping or packing, it is a good idea to try on your layers together.
Before your expedition, your instructors will check your gear; they will assess your clothing with the actual route and the anticipated weather in mind. Items you don’t take on expedition will be stored safely at base. We suggest leaving the tags on any items you purchase in case you don’t actually pack them for expedition, but please note that you should check with each store to see what their return policies are. If there are items that you would like to bring but which are not mentioned on this list, feel free to call and ask your course advisor at 855-802-0307.
Tick- and mosquito-borne diseases are an increasing risk of traveling in the wild regions of the Americas, including our course areas in Maine, New Hampshire, Florida, the Bahamas, and Costa Rica. Fortunately, there are prevention steps that are very effective and, in most cases, treatment is relatively simple and recovery complete, so long as the diagnosis is made early. Students and their families should educate themselves on the risks, prevention measures, and signs and symptoms of tick-borne illnesses.
Since prevention is always better than treatment, we STRONGLY recommend pre-treating your footwear, long pants, long-sleeve shirts, jackets and hats with a chemical barrier containing permethrin, at least two days before traveling to your course. Applied correctly and allowed to dry before wearing, the treatment remains effective for up to a month. For even longer-lasting protection, you can either purchase clothing with permethrin embedded within it, or send your clothes to Insect Shield®, who will treat them and ship them back to you, ready for your course. Use the Coupon Code “HIOBS” to receive a 15% discount on both clothing and treatment services at this website (please note that you need to use the coupon separately for products/ service).
For more information, please download our Vector-Borne Disease General Fact Sheet.
Late summer and early fall in Maine are often warm and sunny, but cold fronts are common and these bring wind, rain, and cooler temperatures. Out on the water and in the mountains, the air stays cool and moist so warm, quick-drying clothing is essential. Temperatures at night can drop to the 30s and even lower in September and October. Daytime temperatures range from the 40s to the 80s
These are NOT required items. Please only buy them if you plan to use them outside of your course.
Please note that Outward Bound provides all other equipment, including (but not limited to):
Your travel may ONLY be arranged AFTER Final Clearance from Admissions, which includes notification that the course has met its minimum enrollment (usually 6). Once you have been Cleared and receive confirmation to book travel you will work with Donna Evans (travel agent) to arrange flights. You can contact Donna via email: [email protected]
Please review the times and locations for Course Start and Course End as you plan your travel to and from course. You should also be familiar with the information on the COVID-19 Health and Safety page.
Do not purchase any travel tickets until your Course Advisor has given the "go-ahead" to book travel for your course. This message will be in either your Cleared to Participate email or a separate message confirming the course is cleared to book travel.
Travel details (flights and drop-offs) are due to your Course Advisor 7 days before your course start date. This helps our airport shuttle teams get organized and ensures we have enough seats available for all students needing a ride. You will receive a Travel Form link from your course advisor. Please complete this form, even if you are being dropped off by car.
Students flying without an adult/guardian may need to bring an ID when traveling to and/or from course. If you need to obtain a non-driver ID card, please see your local Department of Motor Vehicles office. For more information, go to www.dmv.org/id-cards.php.
Arrival Location: Portland International Jetport (PWM), 1001 Westbrook St, Portland, ME 04102
Students need to be in Portland by 8:30am the morning of course start. If you need to fly into Portland the day before, Donna can arrange for a hotel room for you as well as the flight. Keep in mind you will likely be sharing the room with another student on the course.
Your Course Advisor will let you know where to meet the shuttle that will transport the group to our Wheeler Bay base for your course start.
If you think it makes more sense for you to arrive directly at the Outward Bound base, please contact your Course Advisor to discuss alternate arrangements.
Departure Location: Portland International Jetport (PWM), 1001 Westbrook St, Portland, ME 04102
Your course ends at 10:00 AM at Wheeler Bay. The shuttle will arrive at Portland International Jetport (PWM) around 12:00 PM. We cannot guarantee that you will be able to make a flight before 1:30 pm, so please book a flight that leaves after that time.
If you think it makes more sense for you to depart directly from the Outward Bound base, please contact your Course Advisor to discuss alternate arrangements.
If you encounter changes to your travel plans after you have submitted your Travel Form, please contact your Course Advisor to update them about the change.
If you encounter problems with your travel plans that will delay your arrival, please call 855-802-0307. Follow the prompts to reach the on-call staff member for your course.
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