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HomeSponsored contentHow Outward Bound Costa Rica builds resiliency in Ticos and international travelers...

How Outward Bound Costa Rica builds resiliency in Ticos and international travelers alike in Costa Rica

Traveling through Central America with Outward Bound Costa Rica isn’t the right choice for everyone.

If you want to stay in your comfort zone, visit only the tourist hotspots and return home sunburnt but otherwise the same person, Outward Bound Costa Rica’s programs might not be for you. But if your goal is to be challenged, to learn through your experiences and to grow your character? Well, keep reading.

Outward Bound Costa Rica offers two- to eight-week summer courses for teens, gap-year courses for recent graduates and semester-long courses for college students (or any adult up for the challenge).

The goal, says Executive Director Jim Rowe, is to use activities such as whitewater rafting, scuba diving, surfing, trekking, and service projects as a means to promote decision-making and leadership.

“The activities themselves might outwardly look like tourist activities — like whitewater rafting, which is a really cool, adrenaline-filled experience,” he said. “What we add to it is the concept of team building, decision making and implementing those decisions.”

Your Outward Bound Costa Rica experience might involve captaining a boat down the Pejibaye River — even if you’ve never rafted before. Or you might rappel down the side of an 80-foot waterfall. Or you might spend nearly two weeks in the Bocas del Toro archipelago, visiting remote islands inhabited by indigenous communities.

Photo via Outward Bound Costa Rica.


Regardless of the program you choose, you’ll participate in an educational process based on action and reflection.

“There is so much out there that is only focused on the adventure part and less so on the reflection piece, on gaining as much as you can,” said Brynna Rao, Director of Marketing and Communications. “We get people out of their comfort zone, where they’re gaining knowledge about local individuals and themselves as well.”

Outward Bound Costa Rica focuses on visiting off-the-grid locations in an effort to support local businesses and families. The focus, Rao says, is ecotourism and also sustainable tourism.

Outward Bound Costa Rica’s summer courses for 14- to 18-year olds can be beneficial to teens who will remain active throughout the program while also experiencing new cultures and learning skills that can be applied back home.

That is perhaps best exemplified by Outward Bound Costa Rica’s “signature” course, titled Service, Hike & Homestay.

“It’s the most challenging course we offer,” Rao says. “And it’s our most signature to Costa Rica because you stay with local families, learn how they grind sugar with a trapiche, and how the banana plantations function. We’re in a very remote part of Costa Rica.”

Some of the other courses offered by Outward Bound Costa Rica include Caribbean Scuba and Service, during which participants obtain their NAUI diver certification and work on conservation projects; Surf, Service and CPR, during which travelers learn how to surf and earn First Aid and CPR certifications; and the Panama Service Expedition featuring multi-day sea kayaking expeditions through the Bocas del Toro archipelago.

“The common denominator is that all of the programs share a focus on physical activities to support character development — resilience, understanding natural consequence, and face-to-face communication,” Rowe said.

Photo via Outward Bound Costa Rica.

While the majority of Outward Bound Costa Rica participants are teens from outside of Costa Rica, the organization offers a 30% discount for Costa Rican nationals and helps with scholarships to make the program more attainable.

And Rao is quick to mention that many adults who are looking for a meaningful, adventure-packed experience can benefit from Outward Bound Costa Rica’s courses too — a trip of a lifetime without the hassle of arranging the itinerary themselves.

“You can just book the ticket and come on an amazing, life changing experience,” she said.

This story was sponsored by Outward Bound Costa Rica. To learn more about Outward Bound Costa Rica, visit their website at

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