The Outward Bound Final Expedition: Exploring the Effect of Instructor Positioning on the Student Experience


  • Andrew J. Bobilya Montreat College
  • Kenneth R. Kalisch Montreat College
  • Brad Daniel Montreat College


There is a need to investigate specific components and their influence on participant outcomes within Wilderness Experience Programs (Ewert & McAvoy, 2000; McKenzie, 2000; Schuman, Paisley, Sibthorp, & Gookin, 2009). This study examines one component of the Outward Bound wilderness program – the Final Expedition. The Final Expedition is a student-led portion of the wilderness expedition. Recent research has shown the Final Expedition to be one of the most memorable and significant course components from post-course surveys at Outward Bound Singapore (Gassner, Kahlid, & Russell, 2006), the National Outdoor Leadership School (Sibthorp, Paisley, Gookin & Furman, 2008) and Montreat College's Discovery Wilderness Expedition (Daniel, 2003). There is also agreement among many scholars that instructors have a significant influence on successful participant experiences in wilderness programs (Ewert & McAvoy, 2000; Hattie, Marsh, Neill & Richards, 1997; Kalisch, 1999; McKenzie, 2000). The role of the instructor(s) in the individual and group process remains one of the most important variables in the Wilderness Experience Program (Hattie et al., 1997; Kalisch, 1999). The success of the program rests largely in the hands of the instructors who are in direct contact with the students in the wilderness. Their ability to effectively provide skill training, group facilitation, individual support and adaptive programming greatly affects the participant's experience (Kalisch, 1999).