“The classroom instructors with Outward Bound are true professionals. They are able to get to know the students, challenge them, and support young people to do things within their class time that they normally might not do. The lessons learned in doing so bolster a confidence level that students carry with them long after leaving the OB class time.” – Shane Pluchos, Reynolds Middle School AVID and Social Studies
Since 2011 Northwest Outward Bound School has brought its educational framework into school settings in Portland. Portland Public Schools Program hit the ground running in 2020 with nine courses already in progress in Reynolds Middle School and Reynolds High School. These courses meet once a week for eight weeks. Most of the sessions are held right in the classrooms and work on objectives including community-building, leadership, collaboration, and communication. Our team of skilled facilitators leads students in activities that require working as a team to problem solve and overcome challenges. In an age of constant digital connectivity where youth increasingly communicate through devices, these sessions provide opportunities for students to develop critical social-emotional skills by working together in a technology-free zone. In addition to teamwork and problem-solving skills, students often gain increased self-awareness through reflective activities and discussions facilitated by our instructors.
About halfway through the eight-week course, students participate in a full-day field trip. The field trips include indoor rock climbing at Mazama Mountaineering Center, hiking in Oxbow Regional Park, and a challenge course day. The field trips provide an opportunity for students to stretch their comfort zones even further, overcome perceived limitations, and be active out in nature. These days tend to be highlights of the student experience.
In addition to public school programming, Portland Programs also offers programs for groups and businesses. In 2019, we facilitated team building programs for 160 OHSU medical school students, 70 employees from Legacy Group (Seattle, WA), and the Senior Leadership Team of Tofurkey (Hood River, OR). We also ran specialty programs for Washington Conservation Corps, the City of Gresham, and Word Is Bond, a Portland-based group whose mission is to build positive relationships between young Black men and law enforcement.
Portland Programs served 460 students through our public school programming in 2019, with a total of 750 students when including group contracts.
The Portland Programs team greatly appreciates the support and collaboration of our program partners. And none of this would be possible without our instructor team, whose curiosity, compassion, and dedication provide inspiration to our students every day.
– Written by Robyn Gelfand