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Essential Eligibility Criteria - Expeditions

Essential Eligibility Criteria
Expeditions at Outward Bound California

Outward Bound California (OBCA) expedition courses range in length from 3-65-days in length which all share a goal of changing lives through challenge and discovery.  The course areas in which our programs take place are challenging, exposed and remote; often more than 1hr from definitive medical care.

The health and safety of our students and staff is of great importance, and we place top priority on the educational quality of the experience for all participants.  In order to achieve the intended outcomes, individuals on each course must be fully capable of and committed to engaging in course activities, meeting physical and social challenges and tending to their personal needs as well as the collective needs of the group

OBCA values diversity, equity and inclusion and strives to provide culturally responsive programming in a positive learning environment for all participants.  Our instructors are skilled experiential educators and group facilitators, but OBCA does not specialize in experiences for people with disabilities or significant mental health, emotional or behavioral conditions. Our staff are neither therapists nor medical professionals, and are neither trained in adaptive programming or able to provide specialized, individual support.  

The Essential Eligibility Criteria (EEC) are applied to all participants on expeditions in backcountry course areas.  Participants are evaluated on both the General Criteria, and activity-specific criteria listed below. If participants cannot meet the EEC , a determination will be made as to whether we can reasonably accommodate them with neither undue financial burden nor jeopardizing the health, safety, and positive learning environment for all students and staff members on course, and while still adhering to the fundamental nature of the course as planned.  

General

  • Able to understand verbal and visual instructions individually and in a group setting, and follow such instructions whether supervised or not.
  • Able to comprehend hazards and safety concerns after sufficient instruction, and to adhere to safety policies and procedures even when instructors are not present.
  • After sufficient instruction, able to identify and recognize inherent hazards posed by the environment (e.g., steep or uneven terrain, moving water, sun, wind, cold, etc.) and other participants (e.g., fatigue, state of mind and other influencers of judgment and decision making).
  • Able to effectively communicate to others personal distress, injury or need for assistance, and communicate to others any hazards and dangers that they perceive.
  • Able to adapt to the physical, mental and emotional rigors of the expedition, given a supportive and inclusive environment.  
  • Able to live in primitive conditions for the duration of course, often more than a day from advanced medical care.
  • Able to stay alert and engaged for extended periods of expeditionary travel and living.
  • Able to demonstrate adequate self-care after sufficient instruction, including staying adequately hydrated and nourished, maintaining hygiene and using clothing and equipment to maintain warmth and protection from the elements in temperatures ranging from below freezing to over 100 degrees fahrenheit.
  • Refrain from the use of alcohol and/or tobacco (unless otherwise approved), controlled substances, and any misuse of prescription or OTC drugs. If using prescription drugs, able to follow correct dosage and usage and keep them in good condition between resupplies (up to ten days) with or without instructor assistance.
  • Able to contribute to a safe social and emotional learning environment, respecting all stated identities, and maintaining appropriate, non-exclusive relationships with other group members and instructors.
  • Able to refrain from sexual activity, harassment and bullying, and all other behavior that disrupts the learning of others or the cohesion of the group.

Desert Backpacking & Backpacking Courses

  • Able to carry a backpack weighing a minimum of 40, or up to 45% of body weight, that will include personal clothing, group food and equipment.
  • Able to wear an appropriately sized and adjusted backpack, as per manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • Able to travel each day wearing a loaded backpack, while maintaining adequate balance, over steep and uneven terrain, on trail with the potential for short sections of off trail travel, including sections of scrambling, and crossing rivers and streams that do not have bridges.

Alpine Backpacking Courses

  • Able to carry a backpack weighing a minimum of 40, or up to 45% of body weight, that will include personal clothing, group food and equipment.
  • Able to wear an appropriately sized and adjusted backpack, as per manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • Able to travel each day wearing a loaded backpack, while maintaining adequate balance, over steep and uneven terrain, on and off trail, at elevations of 8000’ or more, including sections of scrambling, and crossing rivers and streams that do not have bridges.

Rock Climbing Courses

In addition to Backpack Criteria (desert, alpine, general) able to:

  • Able to wear a climbing helmet, as per manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • If participating in belaying, rappelling and climbing activities, able to wear a climbing harness, as per manufacturer's recommendations.

Mountaineering Courses

In addition to Backpack Criteria (desert, alpine, general) able to:

  • Able to wear a climbing harness and helmet, as per manufacturer’s recommendations.
  • Able to participate in belaying, rappelling and climbing activities.
  • Able to maintain comfort and composure during extended times at heights and exposure.

Sea-Kayaking

  • Able to wear a Personal Flotation Device (PFD or “lifejacket”), as per the manufacturer's recommendation, able to maintain a face up position in water while wearing a PFD, and make progress through the water to shore or a rescue boat.
  • Able to follow instructions immediately upon sudden immersion into cold water, whether the instructions have already been taught or are communicated in the moment.
  • To enter a kayak cockpit with ease and execute a wet exit in the event of a capsize. To re-enter a kayak from the water with minimal assistance from others.
  • Able to be in an upright position in a kayak and maintain stability.
  • Able to maintain comfort and composure during extended times in open water.
  • To control a paddle and pull it through the water to steer and move the kayak forward
  • To carry a 60 pound kayak with another person.

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