Dear Friends,

I hope that you and your loved ones are safe and weathering the COVID-19 emergency as well as can be expected. All of us at the Philadelphia Outward Bound School wish we could be connecting with our students and partners on the Insight days and expeditions that fill our spring 2020 calendar.

If this were any other year, I would be writing to tell you that our team of talented instructors had just finished a week of team building exercises out on field expeditions and were sitting down for a week of workshops on safety, social-emotional learning, program evaluation processes, and diversity, equity and inclusion. We would be kicking off our spring season at The Discovery Center and our Wissahickon high ropes course, and prepping gear for multi-day expeditions along the Appalachian Trail and Delaware Water Gap for thousands of students.

Instead, we are navigating new and challenging terrain just as you are. While none of us have hiked this trail before, we are following tried and true Outward Bound values: we are committed to the highest safety standards, we believe in our inner strength and resilience, and we are compassionate teammates who offer assistance to whomever needs it. We encourage you to embrace these values too.

While the Philadelphia Outward Bound School staff is working from home, for now, we will be ready to restart our programs as soon as it is safe to do so. Following orders from Mayor Kenney and Governor Wolf, The Discovery Center is closed. Pennsylvania schools are closed indefinitely, and Outward Bound USA has advised that no programs be delivered between now and June 1st.

Until then, we are working to strengthen our organization outside of program delivery. We will be attending Salesforce tutorials, revising curricula and manuals, and connecting with our alumni and supporters online. The next several months will test us, perhaps in ways we can’t imagine right now. But we know our students and program partners will benefit from POBS programming more than ever when the crisis is over and we are determined to be here for you.

Stay safe,

Meg Wise
Executive Director

A message from Outward Bound USA’s Executive Director

To Our Students, Families, Program Partners and the Outward Bound Community,

Outward Bound USA shares your concern over COVID-19, the novel coronavirus, and its impact on our students, families and communities. Our priority continues to be the health and well-being of our students and staff.

Outward Bound USA is working in coordination with all 11 Outward Bound Schools across the U.S. as well as industry peers and state and national health authorities. Together, we continue to monitor and assess the evolving situation and take appropriate action regarding Outward Bound programs in and originating from the United States.

Course/Program Information for Parents, Students, Partners and Clients:

All international and domestic programs offered by Outward Bound in the United States will be suspended through May 31st. Outward Bound USA is committed to reducing the rate of ‘community spread’ and its emerging systemic impact on public health. While the landscape is changing daily, we remain hopeful that some, if not many summer courses will run. Check back periodically for updates as we continue to re-evaluate.

If you are concerned about the possibility of future cancellations due to potential COVID-19 related travel restrictions or a COVID-19 illness personally impacting your family, please know that we have updated our cancellation policy. We’ll be happy to explain it; please contact us at 866-467-7651.

Information for Staff and Supporters:

Outward Bound is a community, and our community gatherings and events are also impacted. On March 12th, Outward Bound USA recommended to our Schools and supporters that gatherings and events of over 50 people should be cancelled or postponed for at least a month. This recommendation includes all Staff, Alumni and Fundraising events, and is in alignment with CDC guidance.

In our workplaces, we seek to limit the potential of transmission by re-emphasizing hygiene practices, following CDC guidance, and encouraging social distancing. We are scaling down or eliminating in-person meetings and non-essential travel in favor of online or teleconference meetings, when possible. We are asking employees showing flu-like symptoms to work from home. And, in several regions, we are taking the lead from local governments and school districts and proactively encouraging all employees to work from home.

COVID-19 is an emerging issue and unlike anything most of us have seen in our lifetimes. We will continue to monitor the situation and take proactive steps in support of the national effort to slow the spread of this disease and to reduce the risk of significant impacts to our 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.

Please check back to this page for updates.


Josh Brankman Executive Director Outward Bound USA

March 24, 2020

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