Our History - Outward Bound Canada Outward Bound Canada


For centuries, the term "outward bound" described a ship as it left the harbour and headed out to face the challenges and risks of the open sea. For the sailors, it implied commitment to a long journey, and of course, adventure. Today "Outward Bound" means much more than this.

"Outward Bound transcends class and individual differences and kindles within each of us a sense of community and strong dedication to service. The wilderness environment allows one’s veneers to slip away, and each person can grow through daring to risk, to care, and to share with others. As an educational forum, Outward Bound offers true learning, involving heart, mind, and body, in a way that will last a lifetime."
Kurt Hahn, Outward Bound founder

The idea was that of Kurt Hahn, an inspired educator, instrumental in founding Gordonstoun School in Scotland, the Duke of Edinburgh Awards, and the United World Colleges. From his desire to ignite and sustain the inner strengths of youth, he developed a philosophy that used adventure and community service as training vehicles through which youth could mature and develop a sense of responsibility and compassion. To make such experiences available to all youth, not just private school students, Hahn sought financial support in 1941 from Lawrence Holt, a shipping executive.

The battle of the Atlantic was underway and Holt had become concerned that young sailors lacked the physical and emotional stamina to survive a lifeboat rescue.

In 1941, the first Outward Bound courses were launched in Wales for sailors, students, apprentices and cadets. Holt believed in training “not for the sea, but through the sea”. All Outward Bound programs use the challenges and inspiration of the natural environment – rivers, lakes, mountains and oceans – to bring out the best in everyone.

Our core values are unquestionable, and the philosophy behind Outward Bound has remained consistent for over sixty years. In Hahn’s words: “I regard it as the foremost task of education to ensure the survival of these qualities: an enterprising curiosity, an undefeatable spirit, tenacity in pursuit, readiness for sensible self-denial, and above all, compassion."