University of Washington Freshman Students Begin Their First Year Bonding in Costa Rica


On September 9, 2017, seven First Year students and one chaperone from University of Washington (UW) arrived at our rainforest base. They were met by their instructors, Grace and Mauren, to begin preparing for a 29 mile hike through the high mountains of Costa Rica.

IMG_9014Outward Bound Costa Rica has been partnering with University of Washington for years to provide an early start to First Year students by preparing students to challenge themselves and create lasting friendships leading them into their university career.

The UW students departed early Monday morning to begin their trek far from the tourist route. After a 9.5 mile hike to Cruce Toñito, the group setup camp, learned how to make meals, and fell asleep to the sounds of the rainforest with hot drinks and good company. Each one of them slowly came out of their shell and shared a little more about themselves throughout the journey. At night, UW students reflected on the day’s challenges, triumphs, and learned more about the country that currently served as their camping grounds.

2017-09-18-PHOTO-00001298The seven students continued their journey the next day through drastically changing forest types and arrived in the afternoon to a homestay family’s house to enjoy a shower, a warm kitchen where they learned to cook traditional meals, and shared stories with the family members. Midweek the group woke up to an exciting day ahead: waterfall rappelling. After a short day-hike to an 80-foot waterfall, they spent the morning conquering their fears and experiencing the thrill of accomplishment after touching their feet to the pool of water surrounding the waterfall’s base. In the afternoon, local community members taught them how to make sugar grinding sugar canes at a trapiche. The following day, they learned how to make traditional banana bread and cheese.

The next day and a half consisted of finishing out their trek! The group hiked to Ranchos Tinamú Rainforest lodge, where a breathtaking mountain view, local family, and a rare frog conservation center awaited them. The group stayed the night in cozy dorms overlooking the mountains before hiking downhill with the beautiful Manuel Antonio beaches along the horizon the next morning. This downhill was the toughest part of the hike, which covered 10 miles in a single day. Their exit point was marked by a white van with their driver welcoming them as they made their final steps toward the finish.

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After a rich cultural experience on their remote trek, the group headed to the famed Manuel Antonio National Park, where they encountered monkeys and lizards, soaked up the sun at the beach, and learned to surf! They returned back to our rainforest base near San Jose to enjoy whitewater rafting the Pejibaye River before flying to their new home on the UW Seattle Campus for their first year of college!


Throughout their trip, each of these University of Washington students conquered their fears and pushed themselves beyond what they thought was possible. Here is what their instructors, Grace and Mauren, had to say about them as well as what lesson they learned out on course:


Julia: “It was a great experience, it pushed my boundaries and was very enlightening to see how people live in a different part of the world. I learned that sometimes it’s good to just go with the flow and disconnect from the rest of society in order to grow as an individual.”

Instructors: “You have such a caring and positive attitude. Keep growing individually and continue to disconnect from the “busy” life of society. Give yourself time away from technology to enjoy ‘cafecito‘ with friends. Keep pushing your limits.”




Carson: “This experience was definitely challenging, but the feeling of accomplishment was worth every second. I learned I don’t always need others’ reassurance but my own.”

Instructors: “You are a strong and hardworking young woman. Keep challenging yourself and always have in mind that you are stronger than what you think, and your words are even more powerful when they come from you. You are amazing!




Cole: “The waterfall rapel was the most challenging part because I am afraid of heights, but I enjoyed it because of the support of my whole group. I was challenged, I learned about myself, and, most importantly, I learned about others. I learned about how quickly I can bond with other people.”

Instructors: “You are kind, caring, and positive. You have a strong mindset that keeps you open to new challenges. Keep overcoming obstacles that life might throw in your path… you have the power to do so. Keep opening up to others and sharing your awesomeness.



Isabel: “I have learned so much more about traveling ‘Outward Bound Style’ than I ever would have on my own. I learned that I don’t need many belongings to be happy and plan to donate my excessive things upon returning home. I want to continue studying Spanish in university now! Traveling with OBCR has been challenging, educational, unique, and incredibly fun.”

Instructors: “You are hardworking and always have a positive attitude. Don’t be afraid to open up, continue working on your Spanish skills, and continue growing personally. You are an amazing human being.”



Sam: “This course surpassed my expectations. It was a very enjoyable trip that I felt I learned a lot from. Also, the other students on course as well as the instructors made this trip spectacular and unforgettable. I learned to push and challenge myself and I will be about to make it through. In the future, I plan to continue to get out of my comfort zone and enjoy living in the moment.”

Instructors: “You are a strong, open minded, and very positive young woman. Keep living and enjoying every moment of your life and never stop challenging yourself.”


IMG_9181-2Will S.: “This experience is a ton of fun activities with amazing people, in an awesome country. I learned that I definitely need to take the time to go see the world.”

Instructors: “You are always smiling, willing to help others, and not afraid to strike up a conversation. Travel, travel, and travel… go see the world and enjoy the experience ‘Outward Bound Style’ everywhere you go.



IMG_9188-2Will O.: “I learned about the importance of meeting new people and expanding my mind, along with approaching the difference in cultures with an open and unbiased mind.”

Instructors: “You are incredibly helpful and funny—always keeping it light with your great variety of jokes! You always kept the spirits of the group up. Keep experiencing different cultures and sharing your awesome self and smiling with others. Continue living la pura vida and traveling places ‘an hour and a half away’. 🙂

A special thank you to Janelle, University of Washington chaperone and coordinator, for your invaluable contributions in providing this experience to your new freshmen class.


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