Case Studies

Outward Bound Canada is grateful for opportunities to partner with schools and community groups across the country to provide a wide range of programs so that youth from diverse backgrounds can explore nature with the support of highly skilled instructors who ensure that these authentic adventures happen in a safe, challenging and supportive manner. Here are a few case studies that outline the benefits of schools and groups partnering with Outward Bound Canada.

Haskayne Case Study

About Haskayne
The Haskayne School of Business at the University of Calgary was founded in 1967 and is one of the top business schools in Canada, and top 100 in the world. Haskayne Adventure Leadership Education, offered through the Canadian Centre for Advanced Leadership in Business, depends on Outward Bound Canada, a leader in Outdoor Adventure Education since 1969 to deliver this key component of their program. It is offered for credit through Organizational Behaviour and Human Resources (OBHR 559.01).

Why Haskayne chose Outward Bound Canada
Haskayne recognizes that putting students into groups that tackle real-life, unpredictable situations without a definitive solution on a wilderness expedition is an accelerated way to put into practice the leadership skills they read and learn about in class.

In the words of Dr. Julian Norris, Faculty at Haskayne and former Associate Director of Outward Bound Canada: “You can read a lot of books about it but it won’t make you a better leader – it’s only by leading and reflecting on those experiences that we really develop ourselves, and this is an opportunity to accelerate that development. It’s through the way that we work with challenge, that we can discover the courage, determination and depths of character that we can draw on for a lifetime as a leader. When you live leadership, you can develop skills and capacities you probably didn’t even know you had.”

What is the Haskayne Leadership Expedition?
The 5-day backpacking expedition takes students into the spectacular high mountain terrain in the Kananaskis region of the Rocky Mountains. Students are immediately immersed into learning to lead through every aspect of the course. Instructors facilitate this learning by providing the ‘safety net’ of their expertise and experience, while stretching the students’ ability, allowing them to take responsibility for the group as they navigate problem-solving challenges, unpredictable conditions and challenging wilderness terrain. The students complete leadership assignments, small group work and structured personal reflection. Taken together, these elements are used as a foundation for developing and practicing the fundamentals of advanced leadership.

To get a sense of the expedition, check out these videos about the 2014 and 2015 programs. And here’s a video from Dr. Julian Norris, in which he describes the Leadership Expedition.

What were the outcomes:
Outcomes were analyzed using a pre- post- retro-active survey, and growth was seen in all 5 categories (in particular, Social Competence and Environmental Responsibility):

Graph showing outcomes of Outward Bound Canada course

In the words of Haskayne students:
“You’re out there running the outcome and the future of your day – you’re in charge and you learn a lot from it.”

“We all left with questions answered that we never thought to ask ourselves.”

“By digging deep you’ll find resources that will serve you in your professional and personal life for years to come.” – Dr. Julian Norris, Haskayne Faculty


Greenwood case study

About Greenwood College School

Greenwood College School is a premier independent school in Toronto focused on building character, which makes Outward Bound Canada a perfect fit. One of the ways Greenwood does this is with a strong outdoor education program; Greenwood has a climbing wall in ‘The Lodge’ foyer!  For over 10 years, they have chosen Outward Bound Canada to deliver key components of the ‘Outdoor Leadership Program.’

Why Greenwood Chose Outward Bound Canada

Greenwood takes advantage of Outward Bound Canada’s status as one of Canada’s premier outdoor organizations, and it’s National presence. For example, we take Grade 11 students from Toronto’s Greenwood College hiking in Strathcona Provincial Park on Vancouver Island. Greenwood is also attracted to Outward Bound Canada’s focus on building character – Resilience, Compassion, Connectedness and Leadership – as well as OBC’s expertise in risk management, and attention to program quality.

In the words of Greenwood’s founding Principal David Thompson:  

‘A backcountry classroom, using all that the Canadian landscape has to offer, helps stave off childhood obesity, improves cognitive skills and offers hands-on learning. In educational parlance, we know character education and outdoor education go hand in hand: Across the country, values like independence, interdependence and sensible risk-taking-all important for success in school and in life-are being instilled in students via ropes courses, mountain tracks and rushing whitewater.’

What is the Greenwood Outward Bound Experience?

Most recently, OBC took 30 Grade 11 students through Vancouver Island’s rugged mountain wilderness – Strathcona Provincial Park – for a 7 day backpacking expedition. Students learn about resilience and how to push and motivate themselves and their peers through challenging moments; the sense of fulfilment knowing that they were able to achieve what they never thought possible will stay with them forever. This course prepares students for the future of work, with the Social and Emotional skills that increase their employment prospects. Students journey through the world with a greater understanding and respect for the environment, and habits that improve their mental and physical health.

What were the outcomes?

Outcomes were tested using peer reviewed, validated evaluation tools showing improvements in each of Compassion, Resilience, Connectedness and Leadership. 94% of students saw an improvement in at least one of these attributes.

In the words of Greenwood students:

“Our instructors were really good and helped us learn the skills that we needed to succeed in our final”

“It was hard but made me stronger”

“Our instructors were the most impressive leaders I’ve had yet. Their enthusiasm blended with their humour and created the perfect charisma to learn from”

“I learned how to cook on an open fire, how to tie a variety of knots, and how to motivate myself to complete a task. We all worked so hard to endure and overcome our own challenges”


van tech case study

Van Tech LRP Program

Known as ‘Van Tech’, Vancouver Technical Secondary School is located in the East side of Vancouver, B.C. The Leadership and Resiliency program is funded by Vancouver Coastal Health, and aims to ‘increase the skills and capacity of young people to be happy, healthy, & strong members of our communities is the focus of the LRP. The LRP seeks to achieve the following outcomes with youth:

  • Increased healthy relationships
  • Increased/supported healthy coping strategies
  • Setting optimistic and fulfilling future goals with plans for achievement

Outward Bound is able to take advantage of a pre-existing school group who have been selected because they have the capacity to improve but perhaps not the means to do that. That’s where we are able to put our funding dollars to good use.

Why Van Tech LRP chose Outward Bound Canada

Van Tech LRP came to Outward Bound Canada looking for an experience that takes the students into nature to work outside, and that provides different learning opportunities. Outward Bound’s staff focus on building a strong relationship base with the students, to build trust and be able to facilitate growth in the youth. What the students learn about Leadership and Resilience before they come on an Outward Bound course can be put into practice in a very real way as they overcome challenges and solve real-world, immediate problems together. This is paid forward as a very concrete metaphor for life during debriefs and reflection time.

In the words of Murray Anderson, School Facilitator at VT LRP:

“On top of the logistical pieces that Outward Bound takes on, such as gear, locations, and risk management, Outward Bound staff are really skilled at working with very diverse youth and youth of different backgrounds. For Van Tech LRP it’s really a match made in heaven for a youth group like us, coming together with an organization that really complements what we’re trying to achieve in our program.”


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