It’s All About Transforming Lives Through Outdoor Experiential Learning Adventures
By Northeast High School Teacher Andrew Adams
Hey! Are you an Experiential Learning Advocate?
I am. Here’s why:
Life’s peaks and valleys are conquered the same way — step by step. It’s the journey, with struggles and triumphs, that shapes our adventure, and in Outward Bound’s case, our growth.
As a Philadelphia high school teacher at one of the largest high schools in the city, I have had the extraordinary privilege of witnessing the incredible impact that the Philadelphia Outward Bound School has had on my students.
As a board member, I am sharing experiences as an educator in the district that underscore the transformative power of Outward Bound and to seek your support in ensuring that more students can benefit from this life-changing programming.
Step by Step
My partnership with Outward Bound began in the spring of 2018 when I accompanied ten freshmen on a 5-day Outward Bound Expedition. It was during this expedition on the Appalachian Trail that I first realized the profound impact that outdoor experiences can have on individuals. The healing power of the trail, with its 98-year-old white blazes, became evident as my students and I navigated its ridgelines.
“As a Philadelphia high school teacher at one of the largest high schools in the city, I have had the extraordinary privilege of witnessing the incredible impact that the Philadelphia Outward Bound School has had on my students.”
The experience on the Appalachian Trail, facilitated by the patient, experienced, and engaging POBS crew, not only changed my worldview but also influenced my pedagogical approach. The essence of the Outward Bound mission—discovery through challenge—was palpable as my students and I faced the physical and mental demands of the trail. We discovered the importance of compassion, mental fortitude, and teamwork as we overcame challenges ranging from steep climbs to unpredictable soaking weather.
The impact of this expedition extended far beyond the trail itself. Upon returning to the classroom, I saw a noticeable transformation in my students. They exhibited empathy, resilience, and a newfound appreciation for the natural world. As I reflected on this experience, I realized the need to integrate these principles into my teaching. In collaboration with my colleagues at Northeast High School, we founded the Natural Resource Management program, a community focused on conservation, protection, and responsible interaction with our environment.
This program, inspired by the principles of the Appalachian Trail and Outward Bound, became a testament to the enduring impact of outdoor education. Through activities such as building rowboats, earning drone licenses, raising and releasing trout, and repairing riparian areas, we aimed to instill in our students the values of self-discovery and challenge.
Recently, I had the privilege of returning to the Appalachian Trail on another 5-day expedition, this time with students from the Natural Resource Management program. The magic of seeing Outward Bound strip away external baggage, instill confidence in students, and inspire them to reshape their post-pandemic world was truly remarkable. The trail became our classroom and Outward Bound our teacher in character development.
I am truly grateful to the Philadelphia Outward Bound School for fostering the growth of our program and for delivering distinctive, thoughtful programming that has the power to inspire anyone who spends even an hour engaging with their staff.
Why Your Support Matters
The story of our Outward Bound partnership shared above illustrates the life-changing impact of Outward Bound on students and educators alike. However, these transformative experiences are not possible without the support of advocates for experiential learning like you. Philadelphia Outward Bound School relies on donations to continue providing these invaluable opportunities to students who may not otherwise have access to such life-altering adventures.
Your contribution can make a real difference by:
- Enabling More Students to Participate: Your support will ensure that more students, particularly those from underserved communities, can benefit from Outward Bound programs.
- Expanding Program Offerings: Donations will help broaden the range of outdoor activities and expeditions, allowing students to explore and learn in diverse environments.
- Providing Scholarships: Your generosity can fund scholarships for students who may face financial barriers to participating in these transformative experiences. Philadelphia Outward Bound is part of a network of OB schools across the country. I’ve had my students participate in 21 day courses all across the country at no cost to them. They come back as young adults with mindfulness and drive.
- Supporting Educator Training: Outward Bound’s impact extends beyond students to educators. Your donation can contribute to the training of educators, enabling them to better guide students through these life-changing journeys.
In closing, I urge you to join me in supporting the Philadelphia Outward Bound School. Your support will directly contribute to the growth, resilience, and self-discovery of students, fostering the development of future leaders who will positively impact our communities and the world.
Thank you for considering this heartfelt appeal. Together, we can continue to make a lasting impact on the lives of students through the transformative power of Outward Bound.