Outward Bound of the Americas Symposium 2023: OBC’s learnings and takeaways
It’s always exciting to meet and learn from other Outward Bound schools around the world! And that’s exactly what happened from April 5-8, when our Principal Rob Wallis, our Ontario Wilderness Program Manager Maria Paterson, and our Ontario Wilderness Course Director Scott Dressel attended the second Outward Bound of the Americas Symposium at the stunning Colorado Outward Bound School (COBS) in Leadville, Colorado. The event, which coincided with Outward Bound USA’s National Trainers Conference, was a rare opportunity for the various schools to network, share their experiences, and tackle new issues together.
Present at the symposium were the Outward Bound schools from Brazil, Costa Rica and Mexico, as well as the 12 schools from Outward Bound USA and special guests from Outward Bound Germany and Hong Kong. It was truly inspiring to meet our colleagues from other countries, to learn more about the programs they offer, and most importantly, to experience our shared passion for the Outward Bound which, even though we work with different populations and in different locations, are all connected through the same educational philosophy and goals.
For our team, attending the symposium was an opportunity to learn about new templates for program design, practical tools for dealing with emotional dysregulation in students, and to compare different ways we formulate our curriculum and connect it to mainstream education. It was also an invaluable opportunity to see that all schools, no matter where they’re from, have similar concerns and to share ideas on how to overcome them or look at them from different perspectives.
We believe that our participation in the symposium will benefit OBC in many ways. For example, we can now explore areas in programming and operations that we weren’t previously aware of, and have gained a new perspective on designing courses for our students in Canada. We have also gained a better understanding of what Outward Bound stands for internationally.
We’d like to thank Delta Dental in Colorado for sponsoring our team to attend the event! We’d also like to give a special shout out to Iain Peter, the Executive Director of Outward Bound International, who led a workshop on staff competency and how we can better support our staff. It was great to see how other schools support their team and what we can do to ensure we always send our best people into the field.
Most importantly, attending the symposium got us fired up for the 2023 season with a renewed context and understanding of what we’re all here for! We can’t wait to implement some of the things we learned and continue to provide life-changing experiences for youth in Canada.