Risk Management Philosophy
Since 1941 over 650,000 students in the U.S. have participated in Outward Bound programs in cities, mountains, deserts, rivers, and oceans – and on Challenge Courses like ours in Leakin Park. Over the years, and throughout a wide variety of activities, Outward Bound has worked diligently to achieve and maintain an excellent safety record. Today, Outward Bound is seen as an industry leader in risk management.
Risk and uncertainty are central to adventure and personal growth. By embracing this philosophy, Outward Bound is committed to systematically identifying, assessing and mitigating hazards, while at the same time providing real challenges to our students.
All of our programs utilize a "Choose Your Challenge" philosophy that enables participants to define their own level of challenge in a supportive setting. Participants are never forced to participate in an activity that they feel uncomfortable with.
Outward Bound Safety Assessment
Our challenge course program, including challenge course elements, participant gear, and facilitation staff fulfill the Association for Challenge Course Technology (ACCT) standards for construction, inspection, use, and training.
As part of an ongoing effort to monitor and improve safety, Outward Bound programs are regularly reviewed and audited by both internal and external teams in order to proactively identify and assess potential hazards as well as areas of commendation. Outward Bound has been a leader in wilderness safety and risk management for over 50 years and is a co-sponsor of the annual Wilderness Risk Management Conference (WRMC). This national conference brings together outdoor industry leaders to learn and collaborate with each other to advance safety and risk management in the outdoor education and wilderness adventure community.
Outward Bound Staff Training
Outward Bound instructors are experienced and qualified outdoor professionals committed to their students’ wellbeing through their values, judgment, words and actions. They are certified as Wilderness First Responders or the equivalent and meet all Outward Bound, local, state and federal requirements for their positions. Outward Bound staff are trained to identify, assess and approach risk as a learning tool, to be managed but not eliminated, with the goal of providing Outward Bound students with the opportunity to gain insights and perspectives into their own and their crew’s capabilities that are unavailable anywhere else.
Outward Bound Program Elements
Initiatives: Group games and problem solving challenges that foster group interactions and collaborative problem solving. These activities are done standing, sitting, and may involvement movement.
Low Elements: Low elements are often used as a progression to the challenge course as they work to build trust, safety, and confidence within the group. To complete low element challenges, participants may be standing on the ground, on low cables, or wooden platforms. There are many ways that participants engage in low element challenges—ranging from group lifting, spotting, balancing, or coaching.
Challenge Course: The Challenge Course is often the pinnacle of the group experience. These elements are designed to give both the individual and the group the opportunity to push mental limits and apply group learning from the day. Participants wear a helmet and harness and climb a high element on a belay system. Participants may climb using rock holds, ladders, nets, or ascend poles with metal hand/foot holds. Participants complete the challenges in various ways such as traversing across a cable while holding onto a rope, stepping from platform to platform, or utilizing teammates to cross the challenge on a wooden beam. There are many ways that participants engage in challenge course elements—ranging from climbing to holding the climbers belay rope.