In 2002, when the Philadelphia Outward Bound School (POBS) moved into the Sedgeley Porter’s House we had two full time staff and fewer than 250 students annually. POBS’ planned to use Sedgeley Porter’s House as a base from which to grow. By 2008, POBS’ full time staff of 10 plus almost 30 seasonal field instructors were delivering programs to over 3,500 students – youth and adult. It was time to find a permanent home base for the Philadelphia Outward Bound School.

The Strawberry Mansion (formerly East Park) Reservoir

In January of 2009, POBS held a meeting to invite discussion about its search for a permanent home in the city. Audubon Pennsylvania attended that meeting and presented POBS with an option to consider the East Park Reservoir project – together. Inspiration happened and, for the first time, Audubon and Outward Bound – internationally recognized thought leaders in environmental stewardship and experiential education – formed a unique non-profit joint venture to bring this idea for an experiential and environmental outdoor education center – The Discovery Center – to life.

Discover Yourself In Nature

Now open to the public, The Discovery Center is the headquarters for POBS and a Philadelphia-based education center for Audubon Pennsylvania. The Discovery Center’s indoor and outdoor classrooms, exhibitions, trails, aerial teams challenge course, climbing wall and observation decks engage participants from adjacent neighborhoods, the city, and across the region.

The Discover Center and the Community

A top priority for POBS has been to make The Discovery Center and its amenities accessible and welcoming. On select Saturdays each month we host community-focused programs at the Center — canoeing on the Reservoir in the summer, ziplining on the Challenge Course in the fall, and rock climbing in the Climbing Tower during the winter. Many of these events have been held in conjunction with programming by Audubon Mid Atlantic, so participants could for example attend a bird walk in the morning and canoe or zipline in the afternoon.

Check out this blog post about community use of The Discovery Center, and visit The Discovery Center website for more info and upcoming events.

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How exciting for Philadelphia that The Discovery Center project brings the community together with the educational resources of Outward Bound and Audubon to reopen the East Park Reservoir for outdoor learning and conservation. In this beautiful natural place, young people and adults will discover their potential while exploring this wonder of  nature.
Michael Nutter, Former Mayor of Philadelphia