Parent Information

Answers to frequently asked questions by parents sending their children on Outward Bound

We know and respect that parents have concerns for their children's safety and well-being. Here are some frequently asked questions by parents. If your question is not answered here, please contact us.

My child is not a strong swimmer, will this be a problem on the river?
NO! Weak or non-swimmers will be in the same craft as the Instructor.We have a compulsory swim to assess each participant’s swimming ability prior to the river trip. All instructors are trained in river rescue, which is a nationally accredited certificate, so your child will be safely cared for.Rivers are not very wide, making bank access easier. We use a grade one PFD (personal floatation device), worn at all times on the river, which is the maximum lift of a life-jacket designed for open water.

If my daughter has her period, can she still participate fully, especially in the water activities?

YES! There are many opportunities for privacy during the course.As we are near water often, there are plenty of opportunities for the girls to wash and maintain high hygiene standards.We ask that your daughter carry her own supply of sanitary requirements although instructors do carry emergency supplies.

Does my child have to wear hiking boots?

A sturdy shoe can be just as good however hiking boots are good for ankle support and may prevent the incidence of rolled ankles. They are more waterproof than your average sneaker so will be more durable in the bush. Hiking in wet sneakers can often cause blisters and does not provide adequate support. Hiking boots are expensive and if your child doesn’t wear them again it can become an unjustifiable expense. Hiking boots must be well worn in, or they are more trouble than they are worth, above all make sure footwear is comfortable. These days you can purchase ‘hybrid’ shoes which are cross between a hiking boot and a sneaker and may be more comfortable and easier to wear in - talk to your local outdoor camping store. The main features to look for in footwear are: comfort, durability, sturdiness, a good tread and ideally waterproof to some extent. Socks are also a very important consideration. Outward Bound has a proud partnership with Mountain Designs.

Do boys and girls share the same bivvies (shelters)?

NO! At no stage do boys and girls share bivvies and the instructors/teachers monitor very closely. They will however be sharing team roles and working together closely throughout the day.

What happens if I need to get a message to my child on course?

You can phone our national base in Tharwa and the message can be relayed to the instructor. This is only for emergency situations, as we would like to maintain the ‘place apart’ experience.

What happens if my child has an injury on course?

All instructors are medically trained with a nationally accredited Wilderness First Aid qualification. We have a comprehensive safety network, which includes staff and vehicles that are accessible 24 hours a day throughout course for assistance in the event of an emergency. The instructors will radio call for assistance (for parent information only, do not inform kids of the radio). All instructors carry a complete first aid kit, which can be replenished throughout the course. All parents will be notified of any reportable injuries during course and if further medical treatment is required. The child may need to rest at basecamp or be taken to the nearest doctor if required.

What is the most common injury?

Blisters, pre-existing ankle and knee injuries.

How does Outward Bound care for my child?

At Outward Bound safety is paramount and staff are trained to care for the physical and emotional well-being of all participants. In fact staff are specially selected based on their compassion and care for other people. Outward Bound have very high standards of risk management, safety procedures and training to minimise any potential risks during course. Activities eg. abseiling are often ‘perceived’ as high risk but there are many safety precautions set in place minimising the risk. With activity sites, participants are given safety equipment like helmet, harness, rope etc. and thorough instruction and supervision making it a very controlled environment.

What level of fitness is required of my child?

We recommend an average level of fitness. At times it may be demanding even for someone who has a high fitness level, however the level of physical challenge is always appropriate to the group.The group always stay together and can only travel at the pace of the slowest member. Whilst it is not essential, we strongly recommend your child prepares for the course by walking, up and down hills, with some weight in a pack in the shoes they will wear on course.

My child is a vegetarian, are they catered for?

YES! Please use the medical form to inform us of any dietary requirements that your child may have. It is difficult to cater for individual needs if we are informed on the course, so make sure early notice is given. If a food allergy or specific food eg. Gluten free, you may be required to supply your own supplement food in this case.

If my child gets hungry can they bring their own snacks?

NO! There is enough energy and nutrition in the course food to support the group for the trip, unless there is an underlying medical condition ie. diabetes. Food on course is an educational tool and helps to ensure a ‘place apart’ experience for all. The students are responsible for preparing and cooking the food for the group (including teachers and instructors) so they will have a vested interest in ensuring the meals are good. Bringing snacks will cause an inequality among group members, it means that whilst one is filling up on lollies they are not getting adequate nutrition and energy for what is required, and individual snacking detracts from the sense of community. We provide sufficient snacks and fruit throughout the course. It is important to keep pack weights to a minimum and only carry essential items.

My child has never been away from home before, is this a problem?

It may be difficult for your child initially, however they are with friends and staff who will be there for support. Instructors often face this issue and know how to deal with it.

Do they have showers? How do they wash?


There are no showers, they will often be involved in water activities or close to rivers and creeks giving them a chance to get wet and clean, but no soap or shampoo products can be used as they will pollute our waterways. Strict hygiene practices are followed throughout course, including hand-washing facilities with disinfectant.

Why do we use iodine?

It has been shown to be the best method of killing bacteria in the water. We are aware that some people have allergies to iodine, you may want to bring some puri-tabs with you. The water that we use is communal, and not always knowing what is up stream or what is in the water system, iodine is a requirement.




A Message to Parents

Parents consistently tell us that they want their young people to grow into confident, resilient and responsible adults. That is why they have chosen to send their children to Outward Bound for over 50 years.

Outward Bound challenges young people to discover talents and resources within themselves. Our courses build on success and achievement to empower students to assume responsibility and develop life skills such as peer leadership, decision-making, problem-solving, goal-setting, and clear and honest communication.

While our courses are mentally and physically rigorous and do strengthen individual character, Outward Bound is not a survival school, nor is it therapy: we do not "fix" kids. Our courses are not designed to correct errant behavior. If you believe your child is an "at-risk" youth and needs specific help, please call us to discuss whether an Outward Bound course would be suitable for your child. 

Outward Bound's reputation is built upon it's exceptional staff. We employ inspiring leaders for their compassion, integrity and passion for helping people discover their potential. Our staff are highly skilled outdoor professionals who bring to Outward Bound diverse life experience. Their discipline and dedicated professionalism ensures that your child's safety and well-being is their number one concern.

Outward Bound's safety and operating procedures have become recognised as being amongst the highest in adventure-based education. Safety protocols in all of our programs ensure that risk is more perceived than real. We train your sons and daughters in the skills, responsibilities and discernment necessary for safe wilderness adventure. Instructors closely supervise students until they demonstrate the proficiency and confidence required for greater self-reliance. The process of students taking responsibility and learning to assess risk is an integral part of every Outward Bound course.

Student safety is our number one priority.

Here's what some of our parents have said about us:

Encourage your child to go. The experience is truly worthwhile and the organisation of the whole trip was exceptional.

I cannot praise it enough. I sent my son on an adventure that brought the best out in him. He returned a well adjusted young man full of hope and optimism.


Essential Information