Things to Do

Discover Your Potential With Voyageur

By  | 
Tony Maples Photography


The courage to take that first step over the rock ledge. The knowledge and discipline required to control the descent down the sheer rock wall. The trust in yourself and in your group to navigate the rapids and come through safely on the other side. Outward Bound School has been honing and developing integrity through self-exploration in since 1962. Though the school is based out of Colorado, it offers adventure programs in 11 states. Since it’s founding in Colorado, the Outward Bound School has expanded to include the Voyageur Outward Bound School, with a home base in Minnesota, but has just recently opened up programs in Texas. Read on to learn how to unveil your potential in Texas.

Desert in Big Bend National Park

Photo: Facebook/ Voyageur Outward Bound School

Voyageur offers a number of different programs for students to attend. The Big Bend program includes a little something for everybody. The programs are designed for people between the ages of 14 and 30 years old and include a 28-day course for struggling teens ages 14-17, a 30-day Pathfinder Course for ages 18-30, and 72-day Semester Course for 18-30 year olds. The Semester Course includes wilderness travel in both Minnesota and Big Bend.

Voyageur Outward Bound’s Development Specialist, Jennifer Gasperini, tells us, “Our courses are about much more than outdoor skills.  Voyageur Outward Bound has been changing lives through challenge and discovery for over 50 years. Through immersion in a wilderness setting, we teach people they have more character (perseverance, strength, grit) and leadership than they ever believed. Students have an opportunity to exercise and improve these traits working with others on [the] course and we challenge them to take that same character and leadership back to serve both themselves and their communities.”

Setting Up a Tent

Photo: Facebook/ Voyageur Outward Bound School

Students begin their journey of self-discovery by meeting in El Paso before traveling five hours to Redford, Texas.  From there they will move into Big Bend State Park and into Big Bend National Park. Upon arriving, the group sets a course for camp, plunging headfirst into the expedition. They will learn and master the skills needed to conquer one of the most challenging locales in Texas.

Voyageur’s Texas Course takes place in the bosom of Big Bend and focuses on the unique demands of the desert wilderness; however, students will also try their hand at whitewater canoeing down the Rio Grande. While there is no need to have any prior experience in camping or canoeing, being somewhat fit certainly helps in order to get the most out of the adventure.

Canoeing in Big Bend

Photo: Facebook/Voyageur Outward Bound School

Skills learned along the way include the fundamental knowledge of how to set up and break down camp, packing skills, and how to traverse comfortably through the arid, rugged terrain. While backpacking through the Chihuahua Desert, students are instructed on how to navigate using a compass and map. Through these exercises, students will also unearth self-trust, untapped discipline, and endurance.

Next, after mastering the canoe and paddles, the group will spend some time journeying down the Rio Grande, assessing rapids and building trust and leadership amongst the teams. The last set of skills earned are those required to rock climb and rappel. Students will exercise their trust in their self and others in order to overcome the edge of steep inclines and ragged cracks. Each member nurtures strength, compassion, and generosity through supporting and belaying one another.

Boy Rock Climbing Voyageur

Photo: Facebook/Voyageur Outward Bound School

After the course, graduates receive a bucket shower, completion ceremony, and celebratory banquet to go along with their newfound self-respect. For testimonies and more information visit or call the Texas Wilderness Base at (432) 652-6003.