Skip to Content Skip to Navigation

Urban Expeditions can be tailored to complement and deepen content area learning and provide students access to primary sources and hands-on experiences.

New York City’s diversity and the richness of its human and physical resources provide unparalleled opportunities for learning and adventure.

On NYC Outward Bound Schools’ Urban Expeditions, students travel New York’s streets and neighborhoods and discover firsthand the social and economic forces that shape our city. Students have opportunities to immerse themselves in aspects of life in the city that may be outside their experience, such as visiting cultural sites, social service organizations, ethnic restaurants; participating in dance or martial arts classes; engaging in street interviews and team-building initiatives; sleeping in historic houses or community centers; and participating in a service learning project.

Urban Expeditions give students a better understanding of other cultures, community leadership, community service, and the various social dynamics of a New York City community. These expeditions can be designed to focus on a particular theme, such as diversity and inclusion or service learning. or can enhance academic skills such as literacy or reading comprehension.

Typical Learning Outcomes

  • I can demonstrate leadership and self-reliance by taking ownership of my assigned roles
  • I can stretch my “comfort zone” by participating in activities that are unfamiliar or uncomfortable for me
  • I can conduct interviews with people I may not know, reflect on the interview, and share my insights with my group.
  • I can demonstrate effective teamwork throughout the trip by taking initiative to complete tasks without being asked, and helping others in my group
  • I can navigate through the city and lead my crew to our destinations using subway and street maps
  • I can fully participate in a service project that has a positive impact on the community
  • I can reflect upon assumptions about people and cultures
  • I can identify an action or behavior I can implement that will strengthen my home/school community



An important part of any Urban Expedition is creating opportunities for participants to interview people they meet. These interviews may happen at service, sleep, or food sites. They may also occur in parks, on the subway, on the street. We often ask students to interview people in a certain neighborhood and challenge them to ask questions about the themes the urban is exploring. Interviews provide powerful opportunities for our participants to meet and connect to new people.

Dinner Initiatives

Dinner initiatives are activities designed to enable participants to push beyond their comfort zones by eating new or different types of food. In addition, through negotiation with small restaurant owners they are challenged to interact in ways not customary in US culture, but common in other parts of the world. The point is not to get the lowest cost meal, although that is part of it, but to experience collective decision making and sharing and to see the process from the vendors’ point of view.Negotiations also provide participants with the opportunity to learn about different foods and take into account the dietary needs of their peers.

Food Markets

Specialty grocery stores and outdoor food markets are great ways for participants to have an experience with another cultures’ foods, or with fresh local produced foods. There are also opportunities for interacting with food sources and deepening awareness of the food they eat.

Gift Initiatives

The gift initiative allows for participant to focus and reflect on a peer, providing an opportunity for compassion and empathy. Participants will be purchasing something for someone else for a small amount of money ($5); this is a great way for students to appreciate another in the group and can be the culmination of a shadowing activity.


Urban Expedition Theme: Cultural Exploration of NYC
3 Days/2Nights

Guiding Questions

  1. What makes a ‘community’?
  2. How can exploring new places or having new experiences shape our idea of ourselves and allow us to know ourselves better?
  3. How can you envision yourself having a positive impact on your community and how might that affect the larger world?


9am: Students arrive at NYC Outward Bound Schools LIC headquarters

9:15am: Welcome, icebreaker and program overview

9:30am: Divide into crews for safety protocols and navigation lesson

12pm: Leave headquarters

12:30-2pm: Brazilian/Bengali Lunch Initiative
Crews find best deal for lunch and two artifacts to represent neighborhood
Debrief: How is food a reflection of culture?

3-4pm: Gadenpa Tibetan Buddhist Center
Students Explore different religions in New York
Debrief: What did you learn about Buddhism? Are there similarities to other religions you have encountered?

4pm: Interview Workshop on 6 Train

6pm: Graffiti tour at The Point
Students participate in afterschool programs with community kids and complete community interviews

7pm: Pasta Dinner at Café Kelston

8pm: Juggling/Circus Workshop
Students explore how the different classes offered relate to the people living in the community
Debrief: How did the class go? Was it demanding? What does it say about the community center?

9pm: Journal Time: Reflections on the day

9:30pm: Evening Meeting

11pm: Lights Out


7am: Wake-up/Pack-up/Clean-up/Eat
Student Choice: Breakfast Shopping or Bodega Breakfast?

9-11am: Riverside Park at Hunts Point for Learning Games/Initiatives
Students learn the history of South Bronx
Debrief: What have you learned about ‘community’ thus far? What does it take to implement real change?

11.30am-1pm: Barrio Lunch & Gift Initiative
Spanish speaking challenge

1:30-3pm: ‘Around the Block’ Interactive street art walk at El Museo del Barrio
Students learn about the history and culture of ‘El Barrio’ and El Museo.
Debrief: What did you learn about Latino culture? What surprised you?

4:30-6pm: Service Project Jenny Clark Family Shelter
Debrief: Was our presence needed here today? Pick the impact – us on them OR them on us?

7pm: Breakfast & Dinner Shopping Initiative at Fairway & Interviews
Students explore shopping on a budget, and practice cooking for entire group

8pm: Cooking Challenge at African Services

9:30pm: Evening Meeting

11pm: Lights out


7am: Wake-up/Pack-up/Clean-up/Eat Breakfast

8am: Subway activity and interviews

10am: Intro to Hinduism at Flushing’s Temple of Ganesh
Students learn to keep an open mind to different rituals.
Debrief: How was the temple experience similar and different to other religious places you’ve been?

11am: “Solo” in Temple for guided reflection

12-1pm: Lunch in Temple Canteen
Debrief: Did we let our assumptions of the food/style impact how we ate?

2:30pm: Return to NYC Outward Bound Schools headquarters for final debrief & Pin Ceremony

5pm: Students dismissed


Where do my students sleep?

We have variety of secure sleep sites. We usually sleep on floors with mats and sleeping bags at community centers, churches, dance studios, art galleries or other secure location. All our sleep sites are thoroughly vetted and inspected before we use that space for our programs. Your son/daughter will sleep in a gender appropriate space. An NYC Outward Bound Schools instructor will be in close proximity at all times to supervise students.

What are the qualifications for an NYC Outward Bound Schools instructor?

Instructors are trained in risk management, youth development, technical skills, facilitation, and experiential education. NYC Outward Bound Schools lead instructors have at a minimum Wilderness Advanced First Aid certification. Wilderness Advanced First Aid is a comprehensive medical training course (36 hours) designed to prepare instructors to respond to medical emergency situations.

Why is the Liability Release form so detailed? And why do parents have to sign it?

It is important that you understand the activities that your child will be participating in when signing the enrollment forms. Our Program Profile describes the specific activities your child will engage in. NYC Outward Bound Schools is a part of a larger system with many different course types, student populations, and course lengths. We share one insurance company, and have standard liability release agreement. It is a standard policy of the industry to ask for such consent.

Why does the medical and Liability Release need to be returned to school so far ahead of the course?

Returning the forms promptly allows for thorough screening, which can involve phone contact with you or your child, or a health care professional. Our goal is to make sure we are prepared to manage student medical issues in the field safely. On some occasions, we may not be able to admit a student to our courses due to a medical issue that cannot be managed safely.

Why can’t students call home while on an NYC Outward Bound Schools course?

The experience is meant to be challenging, purposeful, and thought provoking. Ultimately the experience will leave participants with a stronger appreciation for family, home and their community. Calling home can distract participants from their focus on other crew members and the emotional and physical safety of the group. In addition, it may encourage feelings of homesickness and cause participants to disconnect from the experience and their peers. Instructors carry phones and are always available for emergency contact.


Click the image to see more photos


Pricing is negotiable based on school resources and program definition. The prices below reflect a minimum of 25 student and two adult participants.

Full Day Experience: $200 per student
2 Days-1 Night Experience: $400 per student
3 Days-2 Nights Experience: $600 per student
4 Days-3 Nights Experience: $800 per student

Pricing includes cost of your NYC Outward Bound Schools Course Director, who will oversee all aspects of program starting from planning to implementation. Pricing also includes all activity facilitation, meals, equipment, and basic lodging.


Still have questions about Adventure & Team Building programs?

Interested in bringing our best practices to your classroom?

See what our clients have said

Back to top