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Self Discovery through Challenge + Adventure

“There is more to us than we know. If we can be made to see it, perhaps for the rest of our lives we will be unwilling to settle for less.” — Kurt Hahn, Founder Inspired by Anne-Laure’s post “Need a Job, Invent it!” I realized there was one program I know quite well that is creating resilient, self actualized (well alright, with respect to Maslow, on their waaay to being self actualized) young people poised for growth and successful employment. Outward Bound is an experiential education school out to change the lives of young people through challenge and adventure. The School’s core values- compassion, integrity, excellence, & inclusion & diversity- guide everything they do.

Photo of Em Havens
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What’s curious about Outward Bound is that it was founded by German educator Kurt Hahn over 50 years ago, in the tumultuous waters of the North Sea during WW2 to provide young sailors with the experiences and skills necessary to survive at sea (something, Hahn noticed, the older sailors possessed and the younger lacked).

Hahn believed education must encompass both the intellect and character of a person. In creating the first Outward Bound School, he expanded the concept of experiential learning to include real and powerful experience to gain self-esteem, the discovery of innate abilities, and a sense of responsibility toward others.

Using the mountainous wilderness and open sea as a training ground, today Outward Bound caters to people from all walks of life.
Students not only learn technical climbing, mountaineering, and sailing skills, but also critical thinking skills, how to collaborate on a diverse team, communication techinques and ultimately what it takes to be a leader. After all, it’s pretty difficult to climb a mountain in the middle of a hailstorm if you don’t know how to communicate with your teammates. Courses are built around a progression that delivers powerful life lessons by encouraging participants to safely and confidently, step outside their comfort zones and travel in spectacular wilderness areas.

At OB, experience navigating your way through inhospitable outdoor environments, and drawing on the core values for support when life becomes inevitably challenging, is a skill that will only continue to grow & be 100% translatable into seemingly unrelated situations (e.g. in the boardroom, at the desk, working on a team, etc). A key belief in the OB curriculum is that you cannot grow without stepping outside of your comfort zone into your challenge zone. When you're able to do that, you will achieve more than you ever thought possible. The confidence gained here has the ability to then translate into many different facets of your life- and builds up an unstoppable ability to grow & maintain resilience in an ever changing world. 

Sustainable success and sustainable employment is not a question of of what kinds of jobs we can create, but rather how we might support young people to step bravely and confidently into their best selves.

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Photo of Ashwin Goutham Gopi

What a wonderful example, this is awesome! There's something about engaging in manual work that makes people more transparent to themselves and to others.