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Outdoor leadership expeditions for young adults, like Outward Bound and others, are expensive and elite. But I am wondering if they are effective? Do they accomplish their goals of elevating kids' "leadership" and living skills? Does anyone have experiences of either going through these themselves, or sending their kids through one? And if so, is there is much difference between the programs? I'd prefer to hear from those with experience, rather than from those who have an opinion but no experience.

asked Jan 22 '13 at 14:15

Kevin%20Kelly's gravatar image

Kevin Kelly

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I have attended both a RYLA (Rotary Youth Leadership Award) camp and Outward Bound. Depending on your knowledge and life experience, these courses may teach new skills and show you things about yourself that you haven't seen before. However I am not sure that the courses have an real long time impact. At the time of the course when you are all gung-ho and surrounded by people who are feeling the same, it seems like you can take on the world, but when you get back to your usual life and that support network has gone it is much harder to keep up the momentum. The idea of the founder of Outward Bound was that he had 'noticed' people how had previously triumphed over adversity had a much better survival rate in situations such as shipwrecks. He figured then if people were artificially but through adversity (walking long distances and camping under bits of plastic) it would make them more resilient. I don't know his original premise has been statistically proven or if anyone has studied the effectiveness of the subsequent programs, The quality of the facilitators plays a big factor. On the Outward Bound course I went on, I already had experience in all of the activities (rafting, bushwalking, abseiling) and was familiar with all of the psychological theories they were working with, to the extent that on the last day I managed to convince the leader that I was a 'mystery shopper' sent from head office to spy on them. I didn't get that much from the 'experience' but it was a pleasant 7 day walk in a part of the world I hadn't been before.


answered Jan 22 '13 at 16:32

AlternateRoute's gravatar image


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Asked: Jan 22 '13 at 14:15

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Last updated: Jan 28 '13 at 09:30

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