“He sees himself as a leader and looks for opportunities to lead….I think he thinks for himself more.”
These parent comments are no accident. Our aim is to develop and build upon the students social and emotional learning skills, or what we call character, leadership and service throughout the Outward Bound experience. To do so, and to do so consistently we build on our values of compassion, excellence, inclusion and diversity, and integrity and scaffold the course plan with our design principles and program and teaching progression. All the time remembering our mission: To change lives through challenge and discovery.
These principles and progression demand our courses provide opportunity for both the challenge and the discovery. Tyler Fish, Associate Program Director states, “An Outward Bound course has to be hard. That’s how we push our edges. Everybody has edges and once you get close to your edge you start to feel. Once you start to feel, you start to more effectively learn.” Our challenge as a staff is to meet each student at their starting point so the challenge, the hard stuff Fish speaks of, isn’t over or under whelming, but instead meets them right at the edge of questioning whether they can successfully meet the challenge. To strike this balance, each course is first designed with same design principles of our educational framework.
- Learning Through Experience – Voyageur Outward Bound School facilitates engaging, relevant, sequential experiences that promote skill mastery and incorporate reflection and transference.
- Challenge and Adventure – Voyageur Outward Bound School uses familiar and unfamiliar settings to impel students into mentally, emotionally and physically demanding experiences while managing appropriate risks.
- Supportive Environment – Voyageur Outward Bound School designs experiences that support physical and emotional safety and develops a caring and positive group culture.
Our values and design principles must be in place because it is the intention of each course that each “crew” of students moves from novice to mastery. This progression demands success and failure. Both are used to teach individuals and the crew important lessons, gaining confidence to take steps through the challenges they are faced with, be it physical, emotional or social challenges. In the end, the group owns the decisions, the route, the group roles, ultimately the responsibility to complete their course and graduate. To do so, we take the lessons of founder Kurt Hahn and move our students through a progression of graduated levels of responsibility and independence. It’s our progression of:
Training Expedition – During this phase of course, instructors are engaged in a lot of teaching. The instructors’ role is to give a foundation of skills and knowledge so the students gain:
- personal, interpersonal and technical skills
- practice problem-solving and decision making skills
- experience natural consequences and rewards.
Main Expedition – With a foundation of skills, the crew moves onto this phase of expedition where the instructors start to transfer responsibility to the students so they gain confidence in themselves and realize they “can do it.” During this phase students:
- face adversity
- experience success and failure as learning opportunities with coaching and feedback
- solve real problems using effective communication and conflict resolution skills.
Final Expedition – This is the time the crew gets to apply all their skills and demonstrate their mastery. Instructors recognize and affirm the students’ gains, resulting in:
- responsibilities passed from instructors to students
- collaboration skills as the students develop a common vision for their final
- application of the mastery of skills to achieve personal and group goals. During final expedition students become leaders who work together to scout travel routes, support one another, and complete their expedition.
Continue reading the Theory of Change Part 3: The Impact.