"Eccentric perhaps, innovator certainly, great beyond doubt," said HRH Prince Philip, Patron of Outward Bound, of Kurt Hahn, who is the individual most widely associated with the beginnings of Outward Bound.
Kurt Hahn's distinguished career in the field of education saw him inspire two unique educational enterprises, the United World Colleges and Round Square Conference of Schools emphasizing service to humanity. He founded two outstanding and innovative schools in different countries: the Schloss Salem near Lake Constance in his native Germany, and later the legendary Gordonstoun School in Scotland. Here among his first class of young men was Prince Philip, later the Duke of Edinburgh. Hahn declared over 60 years ago that 'the young have to be protected against certain poisonous effects inherent in present day civilization. He identified 'five social diseases that surround youth,' whose characteristics are a decline in...
In 1939 with war ever closer, Hahn had another inspiration. He dreamed of a new location where he could run a "short course", a residential programme of roughly a month's duration, where young men could experience the outdoors and work towards their personal development. Other men shared Hahn's vision: Lawrence Holt, a Gordonstoun parent and a director of the Blue Funnel Line, who was keenly interested in training for the sea and sea survival and who coined the term "Outward Bound" which describes ships' crews leaving the certainties of home and embarking on bold adventures. And Jim Hogan, an educator with ideals similar to Hahn's, an enabler who turned visitor into realities, who later become the first Warden of the first Outward Bound School. So Hahn-the dreamer, Holt-the provider and Hogan-the facilitator established the Aberdovey Sea School in 1941 on the west coast of Wales which offered a 28-day residential course. Twenty-four boys enrolled in the first "standard" Outward Bound course of training, service, reflection and team-building.
The rest is history. The Outward Bound Trust was formed in 1946 with an eye to expansion and to oversee fund-raising, publicity and recruitment of staff and students. A "mountain school" was established at Eskdale in Britain's Lake District in 1950 where a different kind of wilderness was used to the same ends. The first all-girls' courses were held there the next year. And then Outward Bound International truly began through Great Britain's Commonwealth of Nations and within Hahn's native country: schools were begun in Kenya, Germany, Malaysia, Australia, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Singapore and New Zealand.
"All youngsters need the opportunity of proving themselves to themselves, and education must provide such opportunities." - Kurt Hahn
The first Outward Bound school in the United States was established in 1962 in Colorado by Josh Miner, a disciple of Hahn's at Gordonstoun; over the next half-decade four more US schools were set up - Outward Bound methods and goals become the backbone of the US Peace Corps training programme around the world in the mid-60s; by the end of that decade the first co-educational courses were offered in both the UK and US and an urban programme, using another kind of wilderness, was up and running. Other centres were subsequently established in Canada, Hong Kong, Lesotho, Belgium, Japan, the Czech Republic, South Africa, Indonesia, Costa Rica and many more uprising. Two dedicated urban centres were founded in the US cities of New York and Boston; and the US, too, began an initiative to enter the mainstream of America's educational system through Outward Bound's affiliation with the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
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