Dear Friends,

I hope this letter finds you and your families safe. The COVID-19 pandemic has had a broad-reaching impact for Outward Bound, our communities, and society as a whole. For the past three months, the Outward Bound system has worked together to determine paths forward while keeping the health and well-being of our staff and students as a top priority.

All Outward Bound Schools in the United States have agreed to cancel Open Enrollment courses offered nationally for July and August. As local conditions improve, it is possible that a limited number of community-based programs of small intact groups may run this summer, including Outward Bound Professional programs. Each program will be considered on a case-by-case basis and must meet Outward Bound USA’s requirements and regulations for safety, as well as those at the local, state, and federal levels.

While our staff feels a deep sense of loss for the student experiences and growth that will be missed this summer, we are discovering new ways to serve our community and connect with students and educators online. Our programming with students pursuing The Duke of Edinburgh's International Award is thriving and our team is organizing service projects in the Strawberry Mansion neighborhood.

In the coming weeks, we will continue to pay close attention to directives from the Philadelphia and Pennsylvania Departments of Health and will be focused on restarting our programs in the fall, either in their traditional format or as new distance-learning programs. The Discovery Center will remain closed to the public through June 30, 2020. To view updates about the center and announcements about reopening, please visit discoveryphila.org.

This is not the season we imagined or the conditions any of us want to be in. But I am so proud of the compassion, commitment, and creativity of our crew. And I am deeply grateful for our trustees, donors, and institutional partners who have supported POBS through these challenging times.

For those who can, we ask you to consider making a gift to the Philadelphia Outward Bound School. Your generosity at this critical time helps to ensure that POBS is ready to support our students when they will need Outward Bound the most.

Stay safe,

Meg Wise
Executive Director

May 27, 2020

 

A Message from Outward Bound USA | National Program Update

Latest Course/Program Information as of May 21, 2020

For the remainder of 2020, Outward Bound in the United States will offer limited programming that meets strict pandemic response requirements established by OBUSA in coordination with regional Outward Bound Schools and aligned with the regulations and public health guidance at local, state and federal levels.

In light of the numerous and significant challenges of managing the threat of COVID-19 to students, staff and our communities, Outward Bound summer programs will be significantly reduced.

This decision has unique implications for each regional Outward Bound School. We acknowledge and empathize with those shouldering the impacts and repercussions: our Schools, our staff, our communities and our organization as a whole. There will be reductions in operations and students served, community impact and likely further reductions in staff. We make this decision together, knowing it is the right thing to do and with the utmost regard for the safety and well-being of those affected.

The outbreak of the novel coronavirus pandemic is the very definition of uncertainty in the face of significant challenge. While a great deal remains unknown about the virus itself and how communities across the country will continue to be impacted and respond, what is abundantly clear is that it has never been more important for Outward Bound to demonstrate leadership in assessing, mitigating and managing risk.

Outward Bound is ideally positioned with teaching locations in diverse and remote areas across the U.S. and a range of program types where the number of students, days in the field, types of activities can vary widely. With the guidance of Outward Bound USA Safety and Risk Committees, working in partnership with Outward Bound Schools, those courses, activities and locations that meet or exceed a risk management threshold will be offered.

Information for Staff and Supporters:

To our staff, we are humbled and inspired each day by your dedication and passion for the values and positive impacts of Outward Bound. With the changes to our programs this year, we recognize that there will likely be downsizing across the Outward Bound network. Each of our Schools has rushed to secure critical loans and funding to keep as many staff employed as possible. We are so grateful for each and every one of you who have given so much as a part of our organization.

Outward Bound is a community, and our community events are also impacted. Currently all gatherings and events are cancelled or postponed; many have been re-created as virtual, online events. This precaution includes all Staff, Alumni and Fundraising events, and is in alignment with CDC guidance.

In our workplaces, we have eliminated in-person meetings and non-essential travel in favor of online or teleconference meetings. We are following the guidelines set by local governments and school districts and requiring all employees to work from home.

COVID-19 is unlike anything we have seen in our lifetimes. We will continue to monitor the situation and take proactive steps in support of the national and local efforts to slow the spread of this disease and to reduce the risk of significant impacts to our future students, our staff and our communities.

For reliable information on the COVID-19 pandemic, please refer to the resources below: The Outward Bound Community is resilient. We will continue to tap into our values, our strengths and lean on one another, with compassion, in the coming weeks and months. We will face this challenge, like those we equip our students to face in life, with an undefeatable spirit, tenacity in pursuit, readiness for sensible self-denial, and above all, compassion. We are incredibly grateful for your understanding and support.

Sincerely,

Josh Brankman, Executive Director, Outward Bound USA

May 21, 2020

Additional updates and information may be found on Outward Bound USA's website here.