One of the first Outward Bound schools in the nation, Northwest Outward Bound School originated in 1965 in Eugene, Oregon, and the first wilderness courses were facilitated in the nearby Three Sisters Wilderness in the Central Cascades of Oregon. Within a few years, the School had moved to a new location in Portland, and by the late 1970’s, we offered courses in wilderness settings in Oregon, Washington, California, and Idaho. After a series of mergers which culminated in Outward Bound USA, a national organization, we have come back to our roots and back to our original name: Northwest Outward Bound School. We are proud to be a part of a national network of regional schools.
Outward Bound originated in Great Britain during World War II as a program to help young sailors respond capably to the harsh realities of sailing the high seas during the war. After discovering that older sailors fared far better than the younger ones when facing challenging or life-threatening situations, Kurt Hahn, Outward Bound’s founder, helped build a program to develop the depth of confidence, self-awareness, tenacity, and compassion for other that younger sailors needed to thrive. From the outset, Outward Bound prepared people to address challenges, work together, and achieve more than they ever thought possible.
With a curriculum based on Kurt Hahn’s belief that character development was just as important as academic achievement, the new school became the wellspring of experiential learning in the post-war period, and Josh Miner brought Outward Bound philosophy to the United States where it blossomed across our country. Outward Bound schools and centers have emerged throughout the United States and globally, currently serving approximately a quarter of a million people a year in over 30 countries.