Outward Bound was founded in 1941 during World War II to provide young sailors with the experiences and skills necessary to survive at sea.
Named after 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 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 adventure-based education program in the world.
In the early 1950s, Josh Miner founded the Outward Bound movement in the United States, and in the ensuing decade, Outward Bound pioneered wilderness experiential learning with the establishment of the Colorado Outward Bound School in 1961. Outward Bound’s curriculum established the standard for outdoor education: adventure, challenge, character development, compassion and social and environmental responsibility.
In 1991, Outward Bound established the Pinnacle Scholarship Program to increase student diversity and provide opportunities for highly motivated and low income students to enroll in Outward Bound courses. California leaders, investors and nonprofit partners pioneered the program, which is now offered nationwide.
In 2008, Outward Bound launched its first West Coast, urban-based “Center” in San Francisco (“Bay Area Center”) following the successful establishment of other Centers in Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, New York and Philadelphia in the 1980s and 1990s. Urban-based Centers reach more underserved urban youth populations through a menu of programs that promote personal transformation using the natural and historical settings of cities and their surrounding areas.