A Powerful Force for good since 1961

Over 50 Years of Outward Bound in the U.S.

“There is more to us than we know. If we can be made to see it, perhaps for the rest of our lives we will be unwilling to settle for less.”

— Kurt Hahn, Founder

Outward Bound was founded in 1941 in the tumultuous waters of the North Sea during World War II, to provide young sailors with the experiences and skills necessary to survive at sea. Named for the nautical term for a ship's departure from the certainties of the harbor, Outward Bound was a joint effort between British shipping magnate Sir Lawrence Holt and progressive German educator Kurt Hahn. Hahn had developed his progressive ideas, first as founder of the Salem School in Germany, and later at Gordonstoun, a boarding school in Scotland, that soon became one of Britain's most distinguished and innovative schools. Hahn believed education must encompass both the intellect and character of a person. In creating the first Outward Bound School, he expanded the concept of experiential learning to include real and powerful experience to gain self-esteem, the discovery of innate abilities, and a sense of responsibility toward others. Outward Bound has since become the premier experiential education program in the world.

History of Outward Bound in the United States

The history of Outward Bound in the United States began in the early 1950s when Josh Miner, an American who taught under Hahn at the Gordonstoun School in Scotland, was inspired by Hahn's philosophy and teaching model. Over the ensuing decade, and with the support of other inspired and capable individuals, Miner founded the Outward Bound movement in the United States and established the first U.S.-based Outward Bound School in 1961. This first Outward Bound School was founded on the principles of hands-on learning through outdoor adventure. In 1962, Outward Bound led its first U.S.-based course. C-1, had 35 students who set off on June 16 in the Colorado Rockies. 2012 marked Outward Bound's Golden Anniversary and 50 years of leading the way in experiential education in the United States.

Outward Bound gave rise to an entire outdoor education industry in the U.S. Today, with its nationwide system of wilderness courses, special programming for at-risk youth, professional and group programs, and community-centric programming spanning the continent, it is as strong and relevant as ever. Hundreds of courses are delivered each year through a national network of regional schools, and we serve thousands of students with diverse interests, varying physical abilities and social backgrounds.

Outward Bound is the leading experiential education organization in the United States, helping to change lives and communities for the better. In these challenging times, Kurt Hahn’s vision of learning through experience is as valuable and necessary now as ever before.