Our Blog / Blog Posts / 2SLGBTQ+ Courses: Same Adventure, New Community

2SLGBTQ+ Courses: Same Adventure, New Community

Outward Bound is committed to equipping as many youth as possible for the future through adventures in nature. While all courses are inclusive spaces to meet and befriend other youth from diverse backgrounds, this year Outward Bound is running two courses specifically for those who identify as 2SLGBTQ+ (two-spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer). In Northern Ontario, teens will flatwater canoe in Georgian Bay, while in Alberta, young adults will backpack through the Rocky Mountains.

The organization has prepared to operate affinity 2SLGBTQ+ courses for a few years. Outward Bound wilderness expeditions and Toronto Urban programs have served many youth who identify as part of these communities. However, many staff across regions championed creating a positive space where the team facilitating the course represents the participants. Marika Chandler, the Ontario & Atlantic Director overseeing the 2SLGBTQ+ Northern Ontario course, shared why it was vital for her to establish a program in her region. “As a queer Regional Director, it has been really important to me to offer a course that can provide a space for youth to connect with others, including the staff, to explore the outdoors with those who have had a similar life experience,” said Marika.

The 2SLGBTQ+ expeditions are structured the same as other Outward Bound courses. What makes them unique is the positive community within in the group. While navigating the outdoors, participants can focus on the challenge of the course rather than be concerned about how others will react. “While debriefing questions and conversations on the course may focus on gender identity, sexual orientation, and the specific challenges and successes 2SLGBTQ+ youth face, the program will also be filled with adventure and fun, just like every expedition,” said Marika.

Learning environmental leadership, resilience, teamwork, and navigating challenges are fundamental to an Outward Bound course.  However, 2SLGBTQ+ youth already face many challenges in their day-to-day life, including building the courage to be themselves at home, school and work, and the heightened mental health challenges that often accompany that process. On a 2SLGBTQ+ expedition, participants can connect with themselves and others in nature. The societal pressures and assumptions of gender are stripped away and students can try things that they may not otherwise be comfortable doing.

Emily Sitter, the lead instructor on the Rocky Mountain 2SLGBTQ+ expedition, hopes each person leaves the course feeling inspired. “I hope they make connections with each other and feel supported and part of a community. I hope they have so much fun, see beautiful places and feel a sense of accomplishment.”

Click here to learn more about the Northern Ontario 7-day flatwater canoeing for 2SLGBTQ+ youth, or click here for information about Alberta’s Rocky Mountain 7-day 2SLGBTQ+ backpacking expedition.