To Our Students, Families, Program Partners and the Outward Bound Community,
As the coronavirus pandemic impacts the U.S. and the world, Voyageur Outward Bound and our regional Outward Bound Schools have faced what seem to be insurmountable challenges. Over the last few months, we have continually asked ourselves: how will we move forward in the face of adversity? With the utmost concern and respect for the well-being of our students, staff and our organization, we have made very difficult decisions.
In a joint decision with the regional Outward Bound Schools across the U.S., we have decided to cancel our summer programming. This includes all Classic and Intercept courses with start dates through the end of August.
A limited number of in-person custom programs may run. This includes community-based programs, small intact groups and Outward Bound Professional programs. Each will be considered on a case-by-case basis and must meet Outward Bound USA’s requirements and regulations as well as those at the local, state and federal level. Additionally, we continue to engage with education partners to develop virtual programs allowing us to continue to serve our mission during this changing environment.
It is our goal to resume adjusted programming by late summer/fall, offering Semester, Pathfinder and Outdoor Educator expeditions to the many college-aged students who will be looking for experiential education opportunities.
For now, we will continue to assess and adapt to the situation and prepare for the revival of our educational programs once it is possible to do so. We have full confidence that Outward Bound programming in the U.S. will resume again, and we look forward to serving our communities in the near future.
To our Outward Bound Community—above all, know you are not alone. United, we are resilient together.
Jack Lee Executive Director Voyageur Outward Bound School
Outward Bound USA Official Position - May 21, 2020
For the remainder of 2020, Outward Bound in the United States will offer limited programming that meets strict pandemic response requirements established by OBUSA in coordination with regional Outward Bound Schools and aligned with the regulations and public health guidance at local, state and federal levels.
In light of the numerous and significant challenges of managing the threat of COVID-19 to students, staff and our communities, Outward Bound summer programs will be significantly reduced.
This decision has unique implications for each regional Outward Bound School. We acknowledge and empathize with those shouldering the impacts and repercussions: our Schools, our staff, our communities and our organization as a whole. There will be reductions in operations and students served, community impact and likely further reductions in staff. We make this decision together, knowing it is the right thing to do and with the utmost regard for the safety and well-being of those affected.
The outbreak of the novel coronavirus pandemic is the very definition of uncertainty in the face of significant challenge. While a great deal remains unknown about the virus itself and how communities across the country will continue to be impacted and respond, what is abundantly clear is that it has never been more important for Outward Bound to demonstrate leadership in assessing, mitigating and managing risk.
Outward Bound is ideally positioned with teaching locations in diverse and remote areas across the U.S. and a range of program types where the number of students, days in the field, types of activities can vary widely. With the guidance of Outward Bound USA Safety and Risk Committees, working in partnership with Outward Bound Schools, those courses, activities and locations that meet or exceed a risk management threshold will be offered.
International Programs & Future Course Cancellations
All international programs offered by Outward Bound in the United States are officially suspended through the end of 2020. This is due to the higher risks presented by international travel. While the landscape is changing daily, we remain hopeful that some, possibly many, fall courses in the U.S. will run. Check back periodically for updates as we continue to re-evaluate.
If you are concerned about the possibility of future cancellations due to potential COVID-19 related travel restrictions, or if a COVID-19 illness is impacting your family, please know that we have updated our cancellation policy. We’ll be happy to explain it; please contact us at 866-467-7651.
Information for Staff and Supporters:
To our staff, we are humbled and inspired each day by your dedication and passion for the values and positive impacts of Outward Bound. With the changes to our programs this year, we recognize that there will likely be downsizing across the Outward Bound network. Each of our Schools has rushed to secure critical loans and funding to keep as many staff employed as possible. We are so grateful for each and every one of you who have given so much as a part of our organization.
Outward Bound is a community, and our community events are also impacted. Currently all gatherings and events are cancelled or postponed; many have been re-created as virtual, online events. This precaution includes all Staff, Alumni and Fundraising events, and is in alignment with CDC guidance.
In our workplaces, we have eliminated in-person meetings and non-essential travel in favor of online or teleconference meetings. We are following the guidelines set by local governments and school districts and requiring all employees to work from home.
COVID-19 is unlike anything we have seen in our lifetimes. We will continue to monitor the situation and take proactive steps in support of the national and local efforts to slow the spread of this disease and to reduce the risk of significant impacts to our future students, our staff and our communities.
For reliable information on the COVID-19 pandemic, please refer to the resources below:
The Outward Bound Community is resilient. We will continue to tap into our values, our strengths and lean on one another, with compassion, in the coming weeks and months. We will face this challenge as we teach our students to approach the unknown, with careful assessment, preparation, courage and commitment to the goal and to each other’s success. We are incredibly grateful for your understanding and support.
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