12,779 people have realized they are better than they know.

  • The number of scholarship students Outward Bound, USA served in 2009: 12,779
  • The amount of scholarship aid Outward Bound, USA awarded in 2009: $7,470,424

I work in the Scholarship Department at Outward Bound and being a part of a process, albeit a small part, that helps students attend an Outward Bound course is my favorite part of the job; obviously (smile!).  The Scholarship program is rooted in the belief that every person should have an opportunity to experience challenge, personal growth, and improve leadership skills regardless of financial ability.   As a former student, outdoor leader/instructor, and overall “tree-hugger” I believe whole-heartedly in the positive impact Outward Bound courses can have on young people – well, really all people!

There is a magical, many times unexplainable, transformation that occurs when one stares fear and the unknown in the face and conquers one challenging climb, rapid, or day on the open sea at a time.  The individual experiences all of this on such a personal level, and yet that individual is part of a group that, in the beginning, came together as strangers learn to work as team, only at the end leave as family.

As a member of the Scholarship team, it is these individuals (students, Partners, parents) that I work with that make this job so enjoyable.  Whether I am speaking with a parent who has just realized that the dream of sending their child on course is now possible through the Student Opportunity Fund (SOF), or enrolling a Morehead-Cain Scholar who is gleefully choosing a course, or helping a Partner find a deserving student to receive a Leadership Award, to me, it is these relationships that I care so much about.  And being part of team, an organization, that creates opportunity where none seemed to exist before just reinforces that what we are doing at Outward Bound is opening doors to elevate young minds to new heights.   One student at a time, one scholarship at time, we are creating positive change in the lives of many people; many of whom would otherwise not be able to afford to attend Outward Bound.

But don’t just take my word for it…read for yourself.  Below is an excerpt of a letter from 2009 Oregon Pinnacle Scholar, Jenny:

“Through all the challenges, tasks, accomplishments, and even failed attempts I have grown physically stronger, but more importantly mentally stronger.  I know I can push further and deeper, and achieve what I put my mind to…. I am a stronger leader and an understanding follower.  I am so grateful for this experience”

And from David, a 2009 SOF recipient from Colorado:

“You helped finance the single most amazing journey of my life, and for that I am grateful beyond words… if life ever gets too heavy for me, I can just remember my view of Lizard Head Peak and Wilson Meadows on solo day to bring me back to center.  I wish you a life beyond your wildest dreams because that is the gift Outward Bound and you have given me!”

A past Outward Bound participant is quoted saying, “we are better than we know.  If we can just be made to see it, perhaps for the rest of our lives, we’ll be unwilling to settle for less” – I find it powerful to think of all the individuals Outward Bound serves, many through scholarship support, that are now, and in the future, “unwilling to settle for less….” What do you think?

To learn more about scholarship opportunities at Outward Bound, or for more “warm & fuzzy” letters to make you smile (or cry), please contact the Scholarship Associate @ 888.837.5204 Ext. 2433 or awilliamson@outwardbound.org

Blog Contributor: Alston Williamson

Alston starting working at Outward Bound in February 2009 as an Admissions Advisor in Golden, Colorado and moved into the Scholarship Department in July.  Originally from Savannah, Georgia, Alston participated in her first Outward Bound course in the Florida Everglades in 1994.  She has happily landed in Colorado and is psyched to work for Outward Bound.

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