Outward Bound, as we have come to know it today, began somewhat humbly in 1933 with the opening of a small school in Scotland, called the Gordonstoun School. It was here that Kurt Hahn, a German-born educator, first began applying the principle that character development, leadership, and service should have an equal emphasis as traditional academics within education.
When war broke out in Europe in 1939, so did the next step in the evolution of Outward Bound. Sir Lawrence Holt, a parent of a Gordonstoun student who owned a large merchant shipping company, insisted that incomplete training was the cause of so many seamen’s unnecessary deaths in the Battle of the Atlantic. Hahn and Holt recognized that these young seamen had not yet been faced with adversity, so when they were faced with it they became overwhelmed and failed. These sailors needed to learn the will to survive, rather than simply the skills to survive. Together Hahn and Holt created a one-month curriculum that immersed young men in adventurous outdoor situations to help them develop confidence, perseverance, and camaraderie with their peers. Above all, the program was designed to help them discover they were far more capable and resilient than they realized.
Since 1941, Outward Bound has evolved and adapted its programs and venues but never departed from Hahn’s original mission. Now, more than 75 later Outward Bound schools in over 30 countries on six continents worldwide, prepare people to take on challenges and achieve more than they ever thought possible.
Head over to our blog to learn how Outward Bound came to the US and how North Carolina Outward Bound School was founded.