Regardless of prior experience, students will likely be physically and mentally challenged during course. We encourage students to face their fears, trust their team, and push past self-imposed limitations. All our activities – from hiking and whitewater rafting, to surfing and rappelling – test both the body and mind and are used as metaphors for developing leadership and life skills.


The level of physical fitness needed varies depending on the activities of each course. Generally any young person of normal physical fitness level is able to successfully complete our programs. We strongly recommend gap year and semester students establish a solid base of cardiovascular fitness prior to arrival.


Our courses also challenge students mentally and emotionally. Whether this challenge is coping with the difficulty of a multi-day hike, overcoming the pressure of learning something new, or being away from family for the first time, being prepared for frustration and stress is very important. We encourage students to be open to change and expect them to be outside of their comfort zone. Instructors and coursemates are here to help and support one another. Most students who struggle physically suffer from self-doubt; many challenges in life, as in course, are mostly mental. One of the goals of every course is to learn to adapt to new experiences and develop confidence.


Much of the Outward Bound experience stems from the team environment fostered during courses. Coursemates and instructors are together 24/7 for the duration of their experience. For semester students especially, this shared experience may be the hardest aspect of the course. Students always challenge each other. Some may have very different senses of humor or opinions and at times, students may disagree. Instructors help groups open communication and overcome differences to work effectively as a team.


Part of experiencing a new culture is communicating in a new language. Outward Bound Costa Rica programs offer an opportunity to practice and improve Spanish with native speakers. We encourage students interested in learning or improving Spanish to establish a foundation of basic vocabulary and/or grammar before arriving on course.