The History of North Carolina Outward Bound School
The name Outward Bound comes from the nautical term describing the moment a ship leaves the safety of the harbor for the unknown challenges and adventures of the open sea.
The mission of North Carolina Outward Bound is to inspire people to discover and develop their potential to care for themselves, others and the world around them through challenging experiences in unfamiliar settings.
Click to read the Design Principles and Outcomes for North Carolina Outward Bound courses.
Click to review The Basics of a North Carolina Outward Bound course (age groups on course, hygiene and mail).
Outward Bound was founded during World War II. German U-boats were sinking British merchant ships, and many merchant sailors were dying as they waited to be rescued from the rough and frigid waters. Sir Lawrence Holt, owner of the Blue Funnel shipping line in Great Britain, called upon a progressive educator, Kurt Hahn, to help him uncover the answer to this question: Why were the older, more seasoned sailors surviving at a rate much higher than the younger and presumably more fit sailors?
Hahn identified the problem as a lack of confidence rather than any shortage of skill or equipment. He recognized that the younger sailors had not yet developed an understanding of their own physical, emotional and psychological resources. The older men were able to draw on their life experiences and inner resources to survive the hardships presented to them.
To address this problem, Hahn opened the first Outward Bound School in Aberdovey, Wales, in 1941, providing participants with a series of progressively challenging opportunities for success. Since then, Outward Bound has become the oldest, largest and most recognized wilderness educational organization in the world.
What We Teach
The Four Pillars and Principles
The Four Pillars represent the historical foundation of Outward Bound and are the core of our course design and delivery. We teach and work by the values of our Four Pillars and Principles.
- Physical Fitness – building the stamina to meet physical and emotional challenges
- Craftsmanship – modeling quality and intention in our actions
- Self-Reliance – being resourceful by recognizing and applying our personal strengths
- Compassion – selflessly engaging in the welfare and dignity of others
The following Principles complement The Four Pillars and are incorporated in each of our programs.
- Safety - managing risk for both physical and emotional safety in all course activities
- Service* - acting without thought of recognition to meet the needs of others and our environment
- Courage – taking appropriate risks to advocate for others as well as yourself
- Leadership – using collaborative relationships to initiate action
- Diversity – embracing individuality as a source of learning and growth
- Environmental Stewardship – preserving and respecting our natural world for ourselves and future generations
* If a specific document needs to be completed by our instructors to verify service hours, it is the student’s responsibility to bring that document to course for instructors to complete, sign and return to the student prior to course end.
What to Expect
North Carolina Outward Bound teaches wilderness leadership skills and provides challenging opportunities to put those skills into practice. Depending on your course, you may learn outdoor skills including backpacking, rock climbing, whitewater canoeing or sea kayaking. Often called the "hard skills," well-developed technical skills are the foundation of outdoor leadership.
We will also teach you "soft skills": how to communicate effectively with one another, how to inventory and mobilize your personal resources to successfully overcome challenges, as well as how to process and understand your experiences by sharing them with your crewmates. Both these "hard" technical skills and "soft" interpersonal skills serve as the medium through which we provide all our students the opportunity for personal growth.
In order to meet North Carolina Outward Bound’s educational objective of developing each student’s self-reliance, our goal is to place relatives and friends in different crews. (Exception: Parent/Child courses).
You will be in the wilderness most of your time at Outward Bound. A tarp or tent will be your home. Do not expect "the conveniences of home," rather, open yourself up to discovering the joys of living simply.There will be a great deal of emphasis placed on shared responsibility while at Outward Bound. You will be expected to participate in crew chores and activities. Other responsibilities are learned as your instructors teach you basic skills then step back and let you apply your newly acquired knowledge. For students, this may represent one of their most memorable Outward Bound experiences: the positive feelings of pride and self-confidence that come from "doing something myself."