Voyageur Outward Bound School (VOBS) is a nonprofit organization and is proud to be part of a national network of Outward Bound schools in the US and all over the world. Outward Bound entities collectively serve around a quarter of a million people a year in over 30 countries and has reached over seven million people in its 70-year history.
Outward Bound’s roots go back to 1941, when influential educator and philosopher Kurt Hahn developed a survival training program for British sailors based on a philosophy that training through challenges produced better outcomes and greater impact than training for challenges because it created transferable character traits. In 1962, Josh Miner, adopting Hahn’s philosophy, founded Outward Bound USA. Since its inception, Outward Bound has been the pioneering leader in outdoor experiential education, serving over one million students from all walks of life and immersing participants in challenging expedition courses that inspire discovery. Minnesota’s independent 501(c)(3) Voyageur Outward Bound School is a true jewel in this crown. Opened in 1963 in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area of northern Minnesota by founder Bob Pieh, Voyageur Outward Bound School was the first Outward Bound School to put girls on course in 1965 and the first in the United States to conduct urban programming.
VOBS has two program bases in Minnesota and one in Texas. We founded our Twin Cities Center in Saint Paul, MN in 2011 for the specific purpose of bringing Outward Bound experiences to urban youth. Whether we are working with young adults challenged by homelessness or junior high school students who find themselves in the principal’s office too often, our goal is the same: to provide opportunities for adventure and challenge in a group setting, where individuals can grow personal skills and contribute to a positive group culture.
Homeplace, our base camp in Ely, MN, is sandwiched between the boundaries of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness. We serve women’s groups, veterans, youth, teens, adults, college students, alumni, outdoor educators, teachers, professionals and at-risk youth. We strive to connect these folks with the power of an amazing ecosystem to cultivate personal excellence. Lastly, our Texas base in Big Bend National Park allows us to strengthen and diversify our programming, offering unique opportunities for challenging desert backcountry experiences and whitewater canoeing. This venue also provides VOBS with unique professional development and leadership opportunities for our own staff.