Outward Bound (OB) is an international, non-profit, independent, outdoor education organization with approximately 40 schools around the world and 200,000 participants per year. Outward Bound programs aim to foster the personal growth and social skills of participants by using challenging expeditions in the outdoors.
The first Outward Bound school was opened in Aberdovey, Wales in 1941 by Kurt Hahn, Lawrence Holt with the support of the Blue Funnel Line. Outward Bound grew out of Hahn's work in the development of the Gordonstoun school and what is now known as the Duke of Edinburgh's Award. Outward Bound's founding mission was to give young seamen the ability to survive harsh conditions at sea by teaching confidence and tenacity. Jim Hogan served as warden for the first year of the school Retrieved August 29, 2008. This mission was established and then expanded by Capt. JF 'Freddy' Fuller who took over the leadership of the Aberdyfi school and served the Outward Bound movement as senior warden until 1971. Fuller had been seconded from the Blue Funnel Line following wartime experience of surviving two successive torpedo attacks and commanding an open lifeboat in the Atlantic ocean for thirty-five days without losing a single member of the crew in Crew Not Passengers, Miner et al 2002, published by The Mountaineers Books Retrieved August 29, 2008. From the beginning community service was an integral part of the program, especially in the areas of sea and mountain rescues and this remains an important part of the training for both staff and students in Outward Bound, Wales Retrieved August 29, 2008. The first Outward Bound program for females was conducted in 1951. Fuller was seconded to the USA in the early sixties to help establish Outward Bound USA in Colorado and the first Peace Corps training camp in Puerto Rico Retrieved August 29, 2008
Outward Bound courses follow a kind of recipe or formula, termed the Outward Bound Process Model which is well described by Walsh and Golins (1976) as:
In a typical modern class, participants are divided into small patrols (or groups) under the guidance of one or more trained OB instructors. The first few days at a base camp are spent in various forms of training for the activities that the course will contain and in the philosophy of Outward Bound, a form of compassionate self-reliance combined with care for others. Activities may include one or more of the following: backpacking or hiking (hillwalking), canoeing, canyoneering, dog sledding, mountaineering, rafting, rock climbing and rappelling (abseiling), sailing, sea kayaking, and Skiing.
After initial confidence-building challenges, the group heads off on an expedition under the guidance of the instructor(s). As the wilderness skills and spirit of the students increase, the instructors ask the group to make its own decisions.
During a program instructors often aim to impart sufficient wilderness skills to assure that everyone can take part in a tradition called "solo". Solo involves instructors taking each participant to a location which is near enough to the group to be safe, but far enough away to allow reflective time alone in the wilderness. At the end of the course, participants are presented with a final challenge to show them just how much they have developed physically, socially, and emotionally.
Many television viewers may confuse Outward Bound with "reality" programs like Survivor and it appears that these programs have taken some ideas from Outward Bound. A significant difference is the way Survivor encourages cliques, power struggles and the elimination of "losers", something completely opposed to Outward Bound philosophy.
Outward Bound offers a variety of courses of different lengths year-round for ages 12 and up. Teenagers and young adults benefit tremendously from developing self confidence and leadership skills. Many adults and companies use Outward Bound strategically for team building and to return to their daily lives re-energized. Prospective attendees are generally encouraged to work before their arrival on their physical fitness.
Outward Bound also runs special courses for youth at risk. The instructors on these courses are specially trained to help this population start to make better choices in life and to better understand themselves and others.