Sponsored: Portland, OR. “Adventure and challenge!” Those are the words which have drawn thousands of students to the Northwest Outward Bound School over the past 50 years. “Outward Bound has completely changed the course of my life. I’ve been continuously given the tools to discover both my positive and negative qualities and ways I can overcome both mental and physical obstacles,” explains a Reynolds High School student named Bridget who has benefited from a scholarship to attend the program. 

The nonprofit is in the middle of its year-end fundraising campaign, working improve the lives of individuals, and thereby the whole community. Northwest programs are research-based and proven to enhance developmental outcomes for youth including self-confidence, goal-setting, empowerment, teamwork, and compassion. Northwest range of programs include multi-day/multi-week excursions, school-based programs in low-income neighborhoods, and targeted courses for vulnerable populations such as veterans, grieving teens, and LGBT communities.

Here’s a video about the program.

Northwest Outward Bound School measures student success in the following areas:

  1. Character Development: demonstrating increased self-confidence, self-actualization, and compassion toward others and live a healthy and balanced life.
  2. Leadership: demonstrating the ability to set goals and to inspire and guide others to achieve them, as well as to collaborate, communicate, solve problems, and resolve conflicts
  3. Service: Students demonstrate social and environmental responsibility and actively engage in service to others.

Outward Bound originated in Great Britain as a program to help young sailors prepare for the demands of naval combat. Founder Kurt Hahn designed the program to help young recruits to build self-confidence, grit, and a spirit of teamwork in the face of adversity by encouraging them to challenge themselves. Outward Bound is founded on the idea that experiential learning is equally as important as academic education, and that providing both learning styles for students leads to longer-lasting, more meaningful impact.

Outward Bound came to the US in 1960 and programming in the Northwest began in 1965. It serves nearly 2,000 participants each year from Oregon and Washington, as well as many who come from around the world to engage in local programs, set amongst the Pacific Northwest’s natural beauty. 

The mission of Northwest Outward Bound School (NWOBS) is to change lives through challenge and discovery. NWOBS provides uniquely intensive outdoor learning experiences for students of all ages that challenge people to reach their full potential.

From Northwest Outward Bound School (NWOBS):

What We Do:

Click here to donate to Northwest Outward Bound School (NWOBS)

Every summer NWOBS offers unique, intensive outdoor wilderness experiences for youth in the Pacific Northwest. From our Mazama base camp, students go mountaineering in the Glacier Peak wilderness, sea kayaking in the San Juan Islands, and rock climbing, backpacking, and canoeing in the North Cascades. From base camp in Bend, OR, students climb historic rock faces at Smith Rock State Park, raft down the Deschutes River, and traverse Mt. Jefferson each year. Expeditions include outdoor education in areas such as camp craft, first aid, navigation, and other skills essential to wilderness living. Through skilled instruction and mentoring, as well as team building activities with their peers, students learn to be part of a supportive community based on respect, compassion, teamwork, and working toward shared goals.

To deliver our program we partner with schools, youth-serving organizations, community leaders, and youth advocates who are dedicated to helping students reach their full potential and who believe in the impact of an Outward Bound course. Partners spread the word about opportunities, identify and recruit candidates, support students through the application process, help prepare them for their course, and assist them in coordinating their post-course service project. Beginning this year, we are allocating additional staff capacity to partnership outreach and coordination, including additional focus on Pierce County. In the past we have partnered with YMCA of Pierce and Kitsap Counties. 

Ways to support:

Although the Pacific Northwest is an ideal setting for adventure, challenge and discovery, character-building, and outdoor education, some Oregonians are not included in these opportunities. Many youth in Portland’s low-income neighborhoods and/or communities of color are underrepresented in the beautiful wilderness destinations that the region has to offer. Nationally, youth of color make up only 21% of outdoor activity participants (Outdoor Foundation, 2012). The preponderance of research shows that outdoor education boosts academic performance, fosters personal growth, benefits health, and cultivates a generation of youth who value and respect the natural world (Oregon Outdoor Education Coalition, 2015). 

Our Pinnacle Scholarship Program, established in 1992, has provided hundreds of young people across the country an opportunity to build character, develop leadership skills, and understand the importance of community service. Pinnacle Scholars are all eligible for the free or reduced lunch program. The Program depends on partners, often teachers, counselors, community leaders, or youth advocates, who are dedicated to helping youth reach their full potential and who understand the impact of an Outward Bound course. Partners spread the word about scholarship opportunities, identify and recruit candidates, support students through the application process, help prepare them for their course, and assist them in coordinating their mandatory post-course service project. Current Pinnacle Partners in Oregon and Washington include: Summer Search, Liberty Bell High School, Native American Youth and Family Center, Reynolds High School, Neil Armstrong Middle School,  Upward Bound Tonasket and Portland Community College’s TRIO Talent Search.

Our Portland Schools Program is a semester-long progressional series of character and team-building activities for underrepresented middle and high school youth in the Reynolds School District. Over 80% of our students come from low-income households (eligible for Free or Reduced Lunch) and 74% are students of color. By providing opportunities for high quality outdoor experiences, youth in Portland have more access to a valuable tool for enriching their lives, improving their opportunities for school success, and participating in the unique experiences that define and unite us. In 2017, we expanded into Reynolds High School, creating more long-term, impactful leadership opportunities for students, supporting them through the 8th – to 9th grade transition. Research shows that the 9th grade transition is a particularly vulnerable year for students who are at risk of not completing high school. Students who feel confident and connected to school in 9th grade are more likely to succeed (“Ninth Grade Counts.” All Hands Raised, 2016.). In the 2016 graduating class at Reynolds High School, only 67% graduated on time compared to the statewide average of 75% (The Oregonian Your Schools, 2017.). The Portland Schools Program is proven to support students in building the skills and resiliency for personal and academic success throughout their lives.

Click here to donate to Northwest Outward Bound School (NWOBS)