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Dear Community

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To Our Community,

If you were to ask any instructor what story they consistently tell about the history of our school, many, if not all will recount the story of Kurt Hahn courageously taking a stand against Germany’s political climate in the 1930s. These instructors go on course with dozens of students each year, and each course, they describe with solemnity and pride the way that the founder of Outward Bound had the audacity and moral integrity to speak out publicly against radical authoritarian nationalism. We as staff feel that the time has come for the North Carolina Outward Bound School to take a similar stand against our current political climate. This presidential administration is negatively impacting the lives of our students, staff, and the environment we work in. It’s time to take a stand.

We denounce the manner in which this administration has worked to undo fair and equitable access to healthcare service. This affects our instructors, our administrative staff, our students and their families. As a respected leader in the field of outdoor education, it is imperative that we demonstrate the ability to take action, to inspire, and to guide others to speak out. We urge our community to speak out against legislation that restricts the rights of citizens to receive basic healthcare.

It’s time to take a stand.

We denounce the manner in which this administration defunds government entities such as the Environmental and Natural Resources divisions of the Department of Justice. This directly contradicts our core value of environmental stewardship. Again, as leaders in our industry, we must demonstrate our willingness to speak out against environmental degradation and this administration’s refusal to accept and address climate change. One of the most fundamental themes to every Outward Bound course is that of Leave No Trace. We teach our students to move with intention throughout the backcountry, to consider the precious commodities of fresh water and fresh air, to recognize how human-induced climate change is negatively impacting places like the Florida Everglades. We urge our leaders at Outward Bound to speak out against legislation that restricts public access to the truth about climate change.

It’s time to take a stand.

We denounce the manner in which this administration rejects refugees seeking political asylum based on ethnic and religious discrimination. This directly opposes our core values of diversity and inclusion. We must speak out against explicitly racist statements coming from our national leader, against voter suppression, against mass deportations, against internment camps, against racial, ethnic, and religious profiling. We must make a statement reminding our staff and alumni that Outward Bound is a school of inclusion, not exclusion. Outward Bound is a school of respecting, embracing, and celebrating diversity. Silence is the same thing as cowardice and compliance. Every instructional team strives to create an emotionally and physically safe space for their crew by teaching, demonstrating, and upholding our core values of diversity and inclusion. The North Carolina Outward Bound School must strive to do the same by outlining our commitment to these fundamental guiding principles.

It’s time to take a stand.

Our educational framework and methodology does not exist within a vacuum. As an organization built on the foundation of service, we must actively take responsibility for our social environment. We must serve our students from a place of honesty, truth, and compassion. Let us do the right thing by speak out against this dangerous presidential administration, an administration fueled by dishonesty, fear, and hate.

It’s time to take a stand. If not now, when? What is the line for North Carolina Outward Bound School?

Let us be a school that staff are proud to work for. Let us be a school that stands up for what is right. Let us be guided by the integrity of our moral compasses and the courage of our founder. This is what Kurt Hahn stood for, and if we do not follow his teachings, then we should not call ourselves Outward Bound.

We must join other Outward Bound Schools in issuing a formal statement. We demand the scripting of a document that not only denounces the current administration, but also empowers staff to take a stand in the field. Other organizations are speaking out, attached are their statements as examples. We request that this statement is shared not only to current staff, but also to alumni and trustees. Is this an organization fueled by values or by finances? Let us not be afraid to speak out for fear of losing a dollar. We believe that this document has the capacity to channel frustrations and discontent into a positive direction.

Outward Bound cannot run without its instructors, logisticians, site managers, kitchen managers, administrators, program team members, trustees, and anyone who believes in Outward Bound, past and future. We feel the need to advocate for one school, one nation, one world, one love.


(Letter from Outward Bound California)

Dear OBCA Staff and Board community

I can only imagine that many of you awoke this morning (or went to bed late last night) with heightened emotional sensitivity and a flood of unanswered questions. Yesterday's Presidential election result in the United States, regardless of where one might sit on our political spectrum or whom you personally supported, was historic, shocking, disorienting, and/or unexpected.

In light of this historic event, it is important for us, the OBCA community, to allow ourselves the space and time to reflect, talk, think, and re-center ourselves and where our values sit. That is deeply personal work and I encourage you to do that, at your own pace with those whom you love and value. And I ask all of you to do that together, as you feel comfortable doing - to support one another and this great group of dedicated people as we often do - and in the ways in which are so core to Outward Bound's values.

For OBCA, our work continues. As Bay Area Program Director Maggie Lyons Weller so often reminds us, "We do good work." And that good work doesn't change with the political landscape, no matter how disruptive - it is as important now as it always has been - to help young people, Veterans, and adults find the strength of character, the ability to lead, and an ethic of service for oneself and one's community. And, yes, in the coming days many of our students and staff will feel more confused, more vulnerable, and possibly more unsafe than they have before. We will need to act with and teach compassion - to develop and nurture our students on course and each other as we work together, building from the goodness of all people.

We do this work to help make our communities better places - to support the growth through challenge that we value - and that Outward Bound is so very good at providing, especially when the winds get fierce.

It is hard. But we already know that already. And we will continue to do the very best we can because that is who we are as individuals and as an organization. Be good to one another. Be great for our students.

"Without self-discovery, a person may still have self confidence, but it is a self confidence built on ignorance and it melts in the face of heavy burdens. Self discovery is the end product of a great challenge mastered, when the mind commands the body to do the seemingly impossible, when courage and strength are summoned to extraordinary limits for the sake of something outside the self--a principle, an onerous task, another human life." -Kurt Hahn

You are needed.

Josh Brankman

Executive Director

Outward Bound California

(Letter from New York Outward Bound)

Dear Friends of NYC Outward Bound Schools,

This election has left many of our students feeling vulnerable, confused and frightened. At NYC Outward Bound Schools, we are committed to ensuring that our students receive the support they need to navigate these uncertain times. More broadly, we are committed to ensuring that they receive the kind of education through which they learn to practice mutual respect, moral courage, compassion, and empathy for others, the building blocks for their engaging in lives of meaningful civic participation.

The roots of those commitments trace back to the educational philosophy of Outward Bound’s founder, Kurt Hahn. Click here to read a piece written by our President & CEO, Richard Stopol, which highlights the lessons that philosophy offers post-election America.

Thank you, as always, for your support of our work. Together, we can draw upon the lessons Hahn has to teach us to help bring out the best in our young people and in our country.

(Letter from University Presidents)

Dear President-elect Trump,

As do you, we “seek common ground, not hostility; partnership, not conflict.” In order to maintain the trust required for such productive engagement, it is essential that we immediately reaffirm the core values of our democratic nation: human decency, equal rights, freedom of expression and freedom from discrimination. As college and university presidents, we commit ourselves to promoting these values on our campuses and in our communities, and we stand alongside the business, nonprofit, religious and civic leaders who are doing the same in organizations large and small.

In light of your pledge to be “President for all Americans,” we urge you to condemn and work to prevent the harassment, hate and acts of violence that are being perpetrated across our nation, sometimes in your name, which is now synonymous with our nation’s highest office. In our schools, on job sites and college campuses, on public streets and in coffee shops, members of our communities, our children, our families, our neighbors, our students and our employees are facing very real threats, and are frightened.

One of the roles of leaders is to protect and empower the most vulnerable. As president-elect, this responsibility rests heavily on you. Let this be a mark of your leadership.

* This document was scripted, signed, and sent by the college and university presidents of over 100 institutions of higher education in the United States.

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