We are a small company with over 30 years of combined experience working in Outdoor Education and Wilderness Therapy. Our staff is a team of veteran guides and experiential educators who share a passion for bringing unique and impactful learning experiences to our students, giving them tools to help them succeed in life that can’t be learned in a traditional classroom setting – like leadership, self-efficacy and teamwork. We serve Homeschool students and families of all backgrounds and worldviews who have an interest in expanding their horizons and experiencing the world in a way that few people get to – up close and personal, with experienced staff there to facilitate learning experiences, maintain a safe environment and cultivate a healthy group culture.
Due to our strong background in experiential education and our first-hand experience with it’s effectiveness, our philosophy is founded on on the Experiential Ed model, which is as follows:
For our programs, we break down this recipe and apply it as follows:
Step 1: Take a willing student. We do not accept students who do not want to be on our trips. Our programs are designed to be a fun and exciting challenge, not a punishment. Our enrollment application process is focused on selecting students who have a genuine desire to learn and challenge themselves, have fun, and meet other young people with a similar mindset.
Step 2: Place them in a novel setting. We travel to foreign countries, and while we are always there to support students and keep them safe, we do not insulate them from the experience of the world around them. They interact directly with homestay families, rappel a waterfall, learn to ask for directions in a city . These are as novel a setting as you can get.
Step 3: Within a cooperative environment. From the first hour of each trip, we start building the group dynamic by setting a strong culture of cooperation. Group meetings are held daily and students are taught how to communicate effectively to resolve any conflicts. In our experience, the shared experience of our trips brings students together and forms bonds that can last a lifetime.
Step 4: Present them with unique, problem solving challenges of increasing difficulty. We structure each trip to have a natural progression that gives students more challenge each day. While day 1 might be simply hiking into a homestay, day 5 might be setting up their own tarp shelter and spending a night in the jungle and day 8 might be rappelling a waterfall. Each group member will need to not only learn to trust themselves, but support their fellow group members in order to succeed.
Step 5: Student Succeeds or ‘Fails Forward.’ While we don’t believe in contrived experiences, we do set students up for success. The first challenges are easy and students receive a lot of support from trip leaders. As challenges get more difficult, trip leaders allow student room to succeed on their own, or ‘fail forward’. We frame failing forward in a positive light, extract as much learning as possible, and set the student up for a second attempt if they are willing. If they are unwilling, that is fine as well – the goal is for them to learn something about themselves in the process, not meet an arbitrary standard of success.
Step 6: Debrief the experience and transfer lessons to future endeavors. While we hold group meetings every day to check in on everyone, impactful experiences such as the waterfall rappel are debriefed and unique, individual meaning as well as learning is drawn out of each student. For example if a student was anxious about the waterfall rappel, but did it anyway, how could that be applied to their anxiety about their college application or upcoming job interview? What did they learn about trusting the process in order to descend the waterfall?
Zach Mumford, Director
A lifelong Homeschooler/Unschooler, Zach began solo traveling in Latin America at the age of 18. Hooked on travel and the outdoors, at 21 he moved to Costa Rica full time, where he worked for Outward Bound Costa Rica and spent 1,000 days in the field instructing Leadership Semester courses and assisted in teaching over 30 Wilderness Medicine and Rescue courses. He later served as Field Director for Pure Life Wilderness Therapy, where he created one of the most advanced Risk Management plan’s in Latin America’s outdoor industry and trained and managed a team of 18 field guides. At Experiential Travel, he brings his background in safety and group facilitation, as well as his passion for travel and adventure, to every course. He is fluent in Spanish and has lived, traveled and worked in Latin America for over a decade.
Certifications: Wilderness First Responder, CPR/AED, Technical Rope Rescue: Operations, Whitewater Rescue Technician, NAUI Advanced Diver.
Rachel Albright Mumford
Rachel first attended an Outward Bound course as a student in 2007, which awoke her passion for travel, adventure, and Latin America. She returned 8 years later to work as an instructor before moving on to direct the extension program at Pure Life Wilderness Therapy. She is due to graduate with a Masters in Social Work from UNC Chapel Hill in 2020, but leads trips with Experiential Travel when her study schedule permits. Rachel has an undergraduate degree in International Relations and Spanish.
Certifications: Wilderness First Responder, CPR/AED, PADI Advanced Diver
Donna has been an intrepid adventurer her whole life. From working and living on sailboats, to being a Sea Kayaking guide off the NC coast, to being a professional chef, Donna has done it all. With over 10 years experience as an instructor for Outward Bound in Costa Rica, she brings a seasoned eye and a fun-loving spirit to every trip.
Certifications: Wilderness First Responder, Technical Rope Rescue: Operations
Diego was born and raised in the highlands of Costa Rica where arguably the best coffee in the world is produced. With a fierce passion for travel and educating others about his country, Diego is fluent in English, holds a degree in Management of Natural Resources from the University of Costa Rica, and has over 10 years experience instructing for Outward Bound. He is a gold mine of information on culture, customs, food, history, politics and eco-systems and soccer teams of Central America.
Certifications: Wilderness First Responder