GAP YEAR & SEMESTER COURSES

Ages 17+ for 65 to 85 Days

We have specifically designed our gap year and semester courses to be different: from other outdoor programs, from traditional study abroad alternatives, and from any travel experience. Join us and see how much you can learn about yourself and the world around you with the tropical rainforests, rivers, and reefs as your classroom.

Listen to our students describing the Outward Bound difference during their recent gap year/semester experience:

READY TO ENROLL?

Once you have decided what courses you are interested in, begin your enrollment here:

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Semester-And-Gap-Year-Reserve-Your-Place-On-Course
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Semester students are eligible for academic credit either through independent study or through our partnership with Western State Colorado University. Discounts and scholarships available to those who qualify.


ALL COURSES

RIVER TO SEA LEADERSHIP SEMESTER (SPRING)

RIVER TO SEA LEADERSHIP SEMESTER (SPRING)
AT A GLANCE

DURATION: 75 Days

DATES: Spring: January 29 – April 14, 2015

TUITION & FEES: $9,500

COLLEGE CREDIT: 12 credits available through WSCU

CERTIFICATIONS OFFERED:

  • Wilderness Advanced First Aid (Outward Bound Costa Rica)
  • Whitewater Rescue Technician (Rescue 3 International)
  • Scuba Diver Certification (National Association of Underwater Instructors)
  • Waterfront Lifeguarding (American Red Cross)

COURSE REGIONS: Costa Rica (All Provinces); Panama (Bocas del Toro Province); Nicaragua (Rivas Province)

ADDITIONAL ENROLLMENT REQUIREMENTS: Phone conference with lead course instructor (Information on this requirement is sent after student has reserved his/her place on course).

DOWNLOAD PACKING LIST (PDF)

RIVER TO SEA LEADERSHIP SEMESTER (SPRING)

  • Gain outdoor training while developing leadership skills in a unique tropical setting
  • Experience our only program that offers a blend of cultural immersion & outdoor certifications
  • Discover Costa Rica’s most remote surf breaks & dynamic whitewater with locations like Witch’s Rock & the Rio Pacuare

Challenge yourself by exploring some of the world’s best waves and whitewater while honing your leadership skills. Train in four essential outdoor certifications as you surf legendary warm water breaks, paddle down dynamic jungle rivers, dive into tropical Caribbean waters, and immerse yourself in Central American culture. You can also earn 12 academic credits upon successful completion of course.

ORIENTATION & WILDERNESS ADVANCED FIRST AID TRAINING

Settle in at our rainforest base camp as you learn the essentials of backcountry medicine with our Wilderness Advanced First Aid course. This certification will not only help you throughout your Outward Bound experience but will give you vital life skills to stay safe in remote wilderness settings long after course. Beyond your medical training, build a foundation in leadership among your coursemates while designing group and individual goals for your course.

WHITEWATER RAFTING EXPEDITION

Put your teamwork and communication skills to the test as you and your coursemates navigate Costa Rica’s world-famous whitewater rivers, including the Río General, Pacuare, Pejibaye and others. Spend your days challenging Class III and IV rapids and evenings both camping under the stars and staying in family homestays that live in riverside communities. In addition to rafting, rise to the call to leadership by earning your Whitewater Rescue Technician certification issued by Rescue 3 International, the world leader in Swift Water Rescue. Learn about river safety and how to perform rescues in whitewater whiling gaining knowledge on river elements including currents, obstacles, rapids, and holes.

PACIFIC WAVES SURFING EXPEDITION

In order to reach the famed, remote surfing location of Witch’s Rock, you and your coursemates will embark on a trek through Santa Rosa National Park. During this phase, your life will revolve around the tide. Our experienced surf instructors will provide insight into ocean and coastal ecology, the physics of waves, lunar phases, and weather systems. Beginner surfers will learn how to pop-up, catch waves, and improve their board stance to ride more challenging breaks, while students with previous surf experience will be able to build on their skills and enjoy the famous warm water breaks of the region. You will also venture to other surf locations that may include Playa Avellanas, Manuel Antonio, and Playa Negra. Increase your understanding of safety in the waves as you train for your Waterfront Lifeguard certification from the American Red Cross.

RIO SAN JUAN SERVICE EXPEDITION

Spot monkeys, sloths, and other tropical wildlife as you paddle along the Rio San Juan, which winds around the border between Costa Rica and Nicaragua. Throughout your expedition, you and your coursemates will participate in service projects and community activities that benefit the local population. Nightly discussions with your course mates and instructors will support your learning as you increase your intercultural competency, practice your Spanish language skills, and foster your commitment to serve.

RAINFOREST TREK & CULTURAL IMMERSION HOMESTAYS

Challenge yourself on a multi-day rainforest trek into one of the most remote regions of the country. After camping along the trail, spend two to three nights with Costa Rican families, experiencing their famous hospitality and becoming immersed in the rural lifestyle. Take this opportunity to practice your Spanish with your homestay family while helping with traditional activities such as harvesting and grinding sugarcane, making tortillas and playing soccer with local children. Push beyond your comfort zone as you rappel down an 80-foot jungle waterfall.

THE “SOLO” EXPERIENCE

Gain some insight into yourself and alter your view of the external world during this period of self-reflection. For 24 hours you will be on your own, taking time to disconnect from the rest of the world in a safe, wilderness setting.

PANAMA SCUBA DIVING EXPLORATION

Venture across the border of Costa Rica, and immerse yourself in the diverse Caribbean culture of Bocas del Toro, Panama. Set up on the remote island of Solarte, which will serve as a basecamp as you dive into crystal clear waters and earn your NAUI Scuba Diver certification. Participate in several dives at varying depths as your instructors teach you about the tropical marine life and ecology of the region. If you are already scuba certified, study for your advanced certification and participate in a night dive that will awe you with incredible bioluminescence. During this phase you will also venture among the 68 islands of this famed region with snorkeling, sailing, and wakeboarding throughout the archipelago as you learn about the indigenous community that makes these islands their home.

CARIBBEAN SEA KAYAK & SERVICE EXPEDITION

Continue in Panama with a multi-day sea kayaking expedition through the islands of Bocas del Toro, using sea kayaks or indigenous Panamanian canoes known as cayucos. Throughout the journey, you and your course mates will paddle past tropical mangroves and spot hundreds of tropical fish in the clear waters. Engage with the local indigenous population by setting up camp and delving into service projects in local communities.

OUTDOOR LEADER SEMESTER (SPRING & FALL)

OUTDOOR LEADER SEMESTER (SPRING & FALL)
AT A GLANCE

DURATION: 65 Days

DATES: Fall 2014: October 15 – December 18, 2014,
Spring 2015: January 29 – April 4, 2015,
Fall 2015: October 15 – December 18, 2015

TUITION & FEES: 2014: $8,250, 2015: $8,600

COLLEGE CREDIT: 10 credits available through WSCU

CERTIFICATIONS:

OUTWARD BOUND TRAINING:

  • Instructor Judgment Training
  • Land Instructor Training

COURSE REGIONS: Costa Rica (All Provinces); Panama (Bocas del Toro Province);

ADDITIONAL ENROLLMENT REQUIREMENTS: Phone conference with lead course instructor (Information is sent after student has reserved his/her place on course).

DOWNLOAD PACKING LIST (PDF)

OUTDOOR LEADER SEMESTER (SPRING & FALL)

  • Develop leadership skills as you delve into field of outdoor education through both technical & soft-skill training
  • Gain self-awareness through Outward Bound’s holistic approach to experiential education
  • Get experience in the field with an instructor internship during our high season (Offered to top alumni)

Learn to set up belay systems, organize rescues, provide wilderness medical care, guide rafts down world-class rivers, lead groups through the Costa Rican rainforest, and scuba dive in Caribbean waters during this comprehensive introduction to the outdoor industry. Seven internationally-recognized certifications and an in-depth study of the Outward Bound educational model are integrated into the program to make you a desirable instructor or guide for various organizations throughout the world.

MULTI-ELEMENT LEADERSHIP TRAINING

Spend ten days trekking through both high-altitude cloud forests and mid-elevation rainforests as you learn about leadership within the field of outdoor education. Put the Outward Bound teaching philosophy to the test as you alternate roles throughout the journey. Set up camp and tarp shelters along the trail, where nightly meetings will consist of discussions of leadership and the challenges that each day has presented. After trekking through the rainforest, you will stay in the family homes that comprise the remote community of Piedras Blancas. During your homestay experience, learn about the community’s local practices, and test your tenacity with an 80-foot jungle waterfall rappel.

THE “SOLO” EXPERIENCE

During your hiking expedition, gain some insight into yourself and alter your view of the external world during this period of self-reflection. For 24 hours you will be on your own, taking time to disconnect from the rest of the world in a safe, wilderness setting.

WILDERNESS FIRST RESPONDER

Become an outdoor leader by earning the single most important certification needed to work in the industry: Wilderness First Responder (WFR). Nearly every employer ranging from river rafting companies to outdoor education organizations require their staff to have this vital training, though the skills learned are practical for any outdoor enthusiast. Study alongside your course mates during our nine day intensive WFR program, with classroom sessions and practical reviews. Put your knowledge to the test with a final rescue scenario that will have you and your course mates working together to properly attend to real “victims” in a remote wilderness setting.

WHITEWATER RESCUE TECHNICIAN

Take your learning to the river where you’ll train for your Whitewater Rescue Technician certification, issued by Rescue 3 International, the world leader in swift water rescue. Essential for future whitewater river professionals and guides across the world, complete your training along the Río Pejibaye, a gorgeous class II-III river in the mountains of Costa Rica. Learn how to perform rescues in whitewater whiling gaining knowledge on river elements including currents, obstacles, rapids, and holes. to learn the basics of whitewater rescue and safety.

WHITEWATER RAFT GUIDE TRAINING

Put your WRT training into practice by learning to guide and captain rafts. Spend two weeks navigating world-famous rivers as a raft guide, each river challenging your developing skills in different ways. Discover how teamwork and proper communication with your coursemates are the key to successful raft captaining. Instructors evaluate your abilities every time you guide and put you through drills that simulate the physical strains of a real emergency situation. Depending on your skill level at the end of the phase, you will eligible to earn a certification through the International Rafting Federation (IRF) for either class II or III rapids.

TECHNICAL ROPE RESCUE TRAINING

Master your craftsmanship and self-reliance by learning how to set up rappel and belay systems for rescue teams. Issued by Rescue 3 International, Technical Rope Rescue: Operations Level certification requires you and your course mates to pass a written exam and a practical test, which includes tying all knots, setting up anchors, and building technical rescue systems. This certification is great for those pursuing a career in rescue or for climbing enthusiasts looking to perfect their skills.

WATERFRONT LIFEGUARD TRAINING

Surf world-class waves along Costa Rica’s Central Pacific Coast while working toward your Waterfront Lifeguard certification. Issued by the American Red Cross, this is a vital certification for surf instructors as well as anyone interested in working in water sports or around rivers, lakes, pools, and beaches. This five-day phase, although short, is physically demanding due to the certification’s extensive swim requirements. The location of each training session will progress from a swimming pool to a flat water beach to a surf beach, increasing the difficulty of rescue scenarios as your skills improve.

SCUBA DIVER TRAINING

Venture to the remote Caribbean islands of Bocas del Toro, Panama, where you’ll train to become a certified NAUI Scuba Diver. With this lifelong certification, you will be able to go anywhere in the world and rent or buy Scuba equipment to perform dives within your skill level. Participate in several dives at varying depths as your instructors teach you about the tropical marine life and ecology of the region. If you are already scuba certified, study for your advanced certification and participate various dives including a night dive and deep dive.

FIELD INTERNSHIP

Alumni of our Outdoor Leader Semester who best exemplify what it takes to become and Outward Bound educator are typically offered a paid internship as a field instructor for Outward Bound Costa Rica’s high season, with the possibility of staying on as a year-round instructor. Hear the story of three Outdoor Leader Semester alumni who reflect on their course experience and how it led to an instructor role in the field:

COAST TO COAST EXPEDITION SEMESTER (FALL)

COAST TO COAST EXPEDITION SEMESTER (FALL)
AT A GLANCE

DURATION: 85 Days

DATES: Fall 2014: September 18 – December 11, 2014,
Fall 2015: September 17 – December 10, 2015

TUITION & FEES: Fall 2014: $9,950
Fall 2015: $10,600

COLLEGE CREDIT: 12 credits available through WSCU

CERTIFICATIONS OFFERED:

  • CPR/AED for the Professional Rescuer (American Red Cross)
  • Scuba Diver or Advanced Scuba Diver Certification (National Association of Underwater Instructors)

COURSE REGIONS: Costa Rica (All Provinces); Panama (Bocas del Toro Province); Nicaragua (Rivas Province)

ADDITIONAL ENROLLMENT REQUIREMENTS: Phone conference with lead course instructor (Information on this requirement is sent after student has reserved his/her place on course).

DOWNLOAD PACKING LIST (PDF)

COAST TO COAST EXPEDITION SEMESTER (FALL)

  • Explore Costa Rica on foot on a 26-day trek from the Caribbean to Pacific Coast
  • Embark on our only semester with phases in three Central American countries
  • Immerse yourself in local culture with Spanish language lessons & community service projects

Embark on a 26-day cross-country expedition that will push you to transcend self-imposed limits and expand your cultural awareness. Trek through rainforest valleys and dense cloud forests as you learn the local traditions of Costa Rica. Venture into the neighboring countries of Panama and Nicaragua where you will dive into the tropical Caribbean Ocean and engage in meaningful service learning projects. You can also earn 12 academic credits upon successful completion of course.

ORIENTATION: SPANISH LANGUAGE & CERTIFICATION TRAINING

The Coast to Coast Expedition Semester commences at our rainforest base camp where you will earn your First Aid and CPR certifications and build a foundation in the Spanish language. You will participate in five, half-day lessons with a local language instructor geared to your individual Spanish skills. Throughout the week, you will also participate in various cultural excursions and group challenge activities to prepare for the journey ahead.

CROSS-COUNTRY HIKING EXPEDITION

The cornerstone activity of this course is its traversal hike across the country of Costa Rica. Learn about the rich tropical ecology and exotic wildlife as you and your coursemates trek through some of the most remote regions of Costa Rica, allowing you to build upon the Spanish foundations acquired during orientation. Increase your self-reliance and hone your craftsmanship while setting up your own shelter, mastering the techniques of backcountry cooking, and camping under the stars.

After camping along the trail for several nights, immerse yourself in the rural lifestyle and experience true Costa Rican hospitality with family homestays. Learn from the natives about traditional activities including harvesting sugarcane and grinding corn to make homemade tortillas on a traditional country stove.

THE “SOLO” EXPERIENCE

Test your self-reliance with a multi-day “solo,” a time to live off the land and on your own as you reflect in a safe remote environment and return with new conclusions about yourself and your surroundings.

NICARAGUA SERVICE EXPEDITION

Travel just across the Costa Rican border to the Province of Rivas for a multi-day service project that will spark your commitment to serve, enhance your intercultural understanding, and put your developing Spanish language skills to use. Past projects have included constructing an adult education schoolhouse, installing cleaner furnaces to reduce wood-smoke inhalation, and combating rainforest depletion.

PACIFIC WAVES SURFING EXPEDITION

Test your tenacity as you take on famous warm water surf breaks along the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica. Learn to surf or improve your surfing skills through the guidance of experienced and safety-oriented Outward Bound instructors. Our instructors provide detailed, holistic instruction about how to read waves, tides, and currents to enhance your comprehension and application of surf skills. Through group and one-on-one instruction, improve your board stance to ride more challenging breaks as the phase progresses.

WHITEWATER RIVER EXPEDITION

Improve your teamwork and communication skills as you battle some of Costa Rica’s best whitewater rivers including the Río General, Pacuare, Pejibaye and Savegre. Spend your days riding Class III and IV rapids and your nights cooking and camping under the stars. Your instructors will teach you both how to captain a raft as well as how to navigate whitewater on your own in whitewater or inflatable kayaks.

PANAMA SCUBA DIVING EXPLORATION

Travel to the 68-island archipelago of Bocas del Toro in northern Panama where you will dive into the crystal-clear waters of the Caribbean to earn your NAUI Scuba Diver Certification. Learn about the unique tropical ecology and coral reefs of the region while participating in several dives to earn your certification. If you are already scuba certified, study for your advanced certification, which includes night dive that will awe you with incredible bioluminescence. When not diving into the water, you will participate in cross-cultural activities with the natives as well as snorkel, wakeboard, and sail.

CARIBBEAN SEA KAYAK & SERVICE EXPEDITION

Continue to immerse yourself in the Panamanian culture as you and your group navigate the islands by sea kayak. Paddling by impressive mangroves and tropical coral, your multi-day expedition will both physically challenge you as well as inspire you to push on as you reach remote communities and engage in service activities. Spend your nights in distinct villages as you venture through, and return back to your home base on the island of Solarte to reflect as a group on your recent cultural adventure.

CLICK FOR ANSWERS TO FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

SAFETY

HEALTH & MEDICATIONS

FOOD, WATER & SPECIAL DIETS

PACKING

TUITION & FEES

TRAVELING TO COSTA RICA

SAFETY

For over 70 years, Outward Bound worldwide has provided high impact, life skill, and leadership development adventures. We are the industry leader in identifying risk and managing risk in wilderness areas. Risk is part of everyday life, but with our exceptional risk management systems and well-trained professional staff, we continue to be the industry leader.

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HEALTH & MEDICATIONS

We only require an up to date tetanus vaccination for course participation. There are no required inoculations to enter Costa Rica, but, we encourage students to check with their physician for recommendations of optional inoculations and health precautions. Most young people in normal health and physical condition can successfully complete an Outward Bound Costa Rica course.

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FOOD, WATER & SPECIAL DIETS

We are able to accommodate a variety of dietary requirements including vegetarian, gluten-free, lactose intolerance and nut allergies. In most areas of Costa Rica, it safe to drink water directly from the tap. While on course, students are directed to safe water sources by their instructors. Some students opt to treat all water during international travel.

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PACKING

We have compiled comprehensive packing lists for each course, which are listed under the course description and also emailed to a student once he/she has enrolled. A common misconception about Costa Rica is that it is always hot. Many course regions are almost one mile above sea level, where it can get quite chilly at night. Students will likely encounter rain showers while on course, even during Costa Rica’s dry season.

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TUITION & FEES

Tuition includes all room and board, technical gear, course activities, and in-country transportation. Airfare to/from Costa Rica is not included in the listed tuition cost, nor are personal supplies and equipment (including surfboards for advanced surfers).

We accept tuition payments by credit card, check, or wire transfer. Full payment is due 30 days prior to course start.

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TRAVELING TO COSTA RICA

Students must book travel dates to coincide with the start and end dates listed for their course session(s) and fly into Juan Santamaria International Airport (Airport Code: SJO). We recommend scheduling an arrival time prior to 2pm as course activities usually begin early the following day.

Our staff welcome students upon arrival. We use our own private transportation to shuttle to and from the airport on arrival and departure days.

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