Frequently Asked Questions

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What are ‘pulling boats’?

Pulling boats are 30-foot open hulled, dual sailed boats with a rear tiller designed specifically for Outward Bound. The boats are sailed or oared depending on the weather.

How do we sleep on the boats?

There are no cabins on the boats, so the oars are laid across the hull of the boat and the students’ sleeping pads are put on top of the oars. Students fit best if they alter the directions in which they sleep—head to foot. If needed, a tarp is rigged to shelter the students from the weather.

Where do we sleep while camping?

Participants sleep in 3-person A-frame tents or under tarp shelters, which they are responsible for setting up.

Do we get to take showers?

You will not have the opportunity to take showers during the course. However, there are many refreshing water sources along the way and you will be able to shower at the end of course before you return home.

Who participates on these courses?

Our students come from all over the United States (and the world), with the majority coming from the New England states. They are ages 12 – 17, both young women and young men. Connecting with Courage®, Passages®, and Environmental Expeditions are designed for youth who are interested and motivated in a fun outdoor adventure! No experience or specific skill required.

What is ‘solo’?

Solo is a time for reflection and introspection. Students relax and recharge as they think about what they have experienced throughout their course. Typically the Connecting with Courage® and Passages® solo lasts anywhere from two to eight hours, depending on the progress of the group. The Environmental Expeditions solo is generally a 24-hour overnight experience. It is not a survival exercise. Each student is assigned an area, provided with water, food and other essentials, and monitored by instructors.

May I call home?

Students are not allowed to call home unless in case of an emergency or extenuating circumstances, in which case he or she would have access to a phone. Students can send and receive mail.

How many instructors per group?

here typically are two instructors in the field per group: a lead instructor, an assistant instructor, and a support person. When on the boat, a Coast Guard licensed captain is one of the instructors.

How old are the instructors?

Instructors are on average from 22 to 32 years of age. More experienced lead instructors tend to be in their mid-twenties and older. Summer interns who help support courses are typically in their early twenties.

What kind of training do instructors have?

All instructors are required to have completed intensive Outward Bound training programs, CPR, and First Aid. Lead instructors are required to have earned Wilderness First Responder certification and have extensive field experience working with youth and leading expeditions. Many instructors have backgrounds in education, child development, outdoor education, and clinical studies.

Does Thompson Island Outward Bound check the backgrounds of its instructors?

Yes, we conduct a GIS national background check on all employees.

May I contact alumni?

Yes. Contact us by email or by phone and we will provide you with names and phone numbers of alumni.
Email: admissions@thompsonisland.org
Phone: 617 830-5144

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