The Outward Bound expeditionary learning approach is an educational framework that emphasizes high achievement through active learning, character development and teamwork – across diverse learning environments.

The positive outcomes our students experience – whether they are middle and high school age, college age or adults – manifest in the form of increased self-confidence, awareness and respect for the interdependence of individuals and a desire to make a positive difference in their own lives and in the lives of others. Strangers become life-long friends. Small accomplishments on a course become life-long habits. Through shared challenges, adversity, failure and success, students discover and develop new skills, confidence and passion.

The idea that “you are needed,” no matter who you are, is a critical ingredient to the success of Outward Bound programs. And it is this element of inclusiveness and reliance on teamwork that sets an Outward Bound expedition apart from any other learning experience; expedition members are “crew, not passengers.”


Outward Bound learning expeditions are designed and delivered according to three main principles.


Outward Bound students move through a sequence of engaging experiences, like backpacking, that promote skill mastery and incorporate reflection. Throughout the activity, students learn from their success as well as failure.


The unfamiliar settings where Outward Bound expeditions occur challenge our students mentally and physically. Amidst the demands of the expedition, students learn to dig deep and to push themselves, where they often find there is more in them than they know.


Each expedition is designed to support physical and emotional safety. Skilled and compassionate instructors use group facilitation methods and the natural world around them to help foster a caring, positive and inclusive group culture.


The Four Pillars represent the foundation of Outward Bound and are at the core of every course we deliver. 


Building the physical and emotional stamina to meet challenges.


Modeling quality and intention in one’s actions.


Being resourceful, recognizing and applying personal strengths.


Selflessly engaging in the welfare and dignity of others.


Regardless of the program, terrain, length, or curriculum, all Philadelphia Outward Bound School courses are designed with three outcomes in mind:


Participants will come away with an increase in self-confidence. Courses guide people to be more compassionate toward others and live a healthy and balanced life.



Outward Bound teaches the ability to set goals, inspire, and guide others to achieve more. We encourage collaboration, communication, problem-solving, and conflict-resolution.


Our instructors explain the value of social and environmental responsibility with an emphasis of actively engaging in service to others.

To learn more about our education approach, check out these articles on Social Emotional Learning, the Domains of Thriving, and Outcomes Data.