Module Overview

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With Pali Outback, we offer several modules to teach students how to survive and thrive in wild spaces, and offer a customized program to suit your campers’ requirements. Educators build the 3-day experience by selecting from varied modules that stem from the three categories from Institute’s original core programs: Outdoor Education, Science, and Leadership. A full day schedule at Pali Outback consists of integrated learning activities through hiking and exploring the wilderness, with evening activities complementing the day’s learning experiences. Learn more about our modules by exploring these categories.


The Leave No Trace Principles are important elements in learning how to navigate the wilderness and to be responsible environmental stewards. The first element of this crucial philosophy is to plan ahead and prepare. With Pali Outback, we offer several modules to teach students how to survive and thrive in wild spaces.


Outdoor Basics and Trip Prep 

 This module covers the basic elements of outdoor trip preparation, including:

  • Introduction to equipment
  • Proper and safe usage of all essential gear
  • Packing a backpack: how to do it and what to prepare for
  • The standards of trail etiquette
  • The importance of the Leave No Trace (LNT) principles

Beyond gaining hands-on experience on group gear and learning how to use it, Pali Outback students will learn the steps of outdoor trip planning, which includes selection of a route, monitoring weather forecasts, packing necessary equipment for location and climate, and meal planning and packing. All of this is integrated with LNT principles as the core foundation.

Each group will also begin foundational team building activities, which are key in forming a successful and close-knit group. Students will receive their trip overview, learn to plan, and be able to ask questions to Pali Outback staff. Basic wilderness first aid training is also available (not certificated).


In this module, students learn the basics of reading and utilizing a map, and how to operate a compass for navigation. Beginning with basic topographical maps of the area, Outback students will learn how to find their way through the wilderness, building not only their basic navigational skills, but their confidence as well.

Once students understand the foundations of map and compass navigation using our topographical trail training, Outback participants will guide the group on all subsequent hikes to each campsite, with instructors always present for any assistance, questions, or confidence boosts.


Under a night sky unblemished by light pollution, students stargaze and learn about the cosmic expanse beyond. Outback campers will see the night sky and learn about navigating by stars, enjoy a tour of the seasonal constellations, and hear the myths and legends of these celestial bodies. Students will be able to sit back and soak in the Milky Way Galaxy and expand their astronomical knowledge, and perhaps spot a shooting star or two.

Night Hike

This class explores the different adaptations nocturnal animals utilize, showcasing through numerous sensory activities. Outback participants will learn how human senses change in the dark, and how nighttime creatures have heightened senses relative to us. Older groups have the option of a solo walk on the way back to the campsite, with students given a two-minute gap between each individual, with instructors bookending the group to ensure safety.

Forest Ecology 

Students learn about the ecosystem around them as they hike through the forest. They learn how to identify plants and animals, think critically about the world around them, and discuss the impact of forest fires. If desired, students can begin field notebooks to record their observations about the ecosystem, sketch plants and animals, and identify key adaptations different organisms have.

Outdoor and Survival Skills 

This course goes into additional outdoor skills that students could find useful in the backcountry. We cover shelter building and choosing locations to camp, water purification strategies, and discuss fire building (however, due to fire restrictions we cannot build fires in the San Bernardino National Forest).

Winding Down/Evening Debrief

While the San Bernardino National Forest is susceptible to forest fires and campfires are not allowed, this doesn’t stop Outback campers from enjoying evening group time. The evening activities center on large group games in which all members are encouraged to participate around an anchored lantern. Groups tell riddles, jokes, and stories around the lantern, play games, and enjoy each other’s company as we wind down from the long and fulfilling day.

Team Building 

Students will face a sequence of challenges that they must overcome together. Emphasis can be on trust, communication, leadership, and/or problem solving (among other outcomes) depending on what the teachers would like their groups to work on. As the students work through the challenges presented to them, they will also process each activity to emphasize the learning outcomes of each and extend these beyond the specific activity or even this course.

Final Reflections 

This is the cumulative group reflection on their experience with Pali Outback. Through a few different activities, students will be guided through processing the experience they have had over the past 48 hours, what they have learned, and how they can apply it to life outside of Pali and the backcountry. Students will also have the opportunity to acknowledge others in their group for stepping out of their comfort zones, helping others, etc.

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