Outward Bound: Outward Bound — in Boulder's back yard
By Chris Barge, Camera Staff Writer
May 26, 2005
Sharon Hotz beamed last summer as she watched her son jump off the bus after a 23-day paddling adventure in Utah.
"I've never seen anybody get off the bus so happy, healthy and strong," said the Boulder mother of three.
Her son, Ryan Reuting, 16, had won a full scholarship to go on the Outward Bound expedition. He was one of about 5,000 students who participated in an Outward Bound trip last year. And he was among the 20 percent of those who receive at least partial needs-based scholarships.
Outward Bound is known the world over as a leader in providing meaningful outdoor experiences for young people. What some Boulder County residents may not know is that the national headquarters for the organization is 30 minutes down the road, in Golden.
Furthermore, the Golden headquarters has recently become an even more major nerve center for the organization. This spring, the Golden offices took over administration for all but one of the regional Outward Bound schools.
Now, Outward Bound Wilderness encompasses Outward Bound West; Voyageur Outward Bound of Ely, Minn.; and Hurricane Island Outward Bound of Rockland, Maine. That means the Golden offices now administer programs serving an additional 1,500 students each year.
The Golden offices, once the wilderness headquarters of only the Colorado Outward Bound School, took on administration of the Pacific Crest Outward Bound School two years ago, renaming the broader regional program Outward Bound West. The North Carolina Outward Bound School is the only regional school still under local administration.
Outward Bound Wilderness executive director Bruce Fitch said the reorganization brings the Outward Bound brand more in line with its already unified reputation. It also allows for a more streamlined and efficient administration — a move that was necessary for the nonprofit to remain viable.
"We find ourselves in a more competitive climate, and we find ourselves having to be smarter and more efficient in how we operate," Fitch said.
The organization's leadership also has decided to refrain from going after niche outdoor adventure programs, in favor of staying true to the central mission of offering longer, life-changing outdoor education courses.
That's a calling that resonates with many in Boulder County. Outdoorsy Boulder is home to many alumni, including North Village Video owner Lawrence Moffett, who is featured in the climbing column on this page today. Boulder also boasts outdoor gear companies and organizations that proudly support Outward Bound, including Trango and GoLight.
"It's an ideal community to have in your back yard," said Nigel Gregory, director of development for Outward Bound West.
Outward Bound has grown beyond long trips to the woods. The Golden offices also administer programs serving businesses and professional organizations (Outward Bound Professional), school reform (Expeditionary Learning Outward Bound) and troubled youth and their families (Outward Bound Discovery).
In all, the organization's broader programs serve more than 60,000 people each year.