“Outward Bound Costa Rica inspires and develops leadership, compassion, responsibility, respect for the environment and commitment to serve through adventure-based outdoor experiences led by a skilled, safety-conscious staff.”
There are Outward Bound schools in 34 countries across the globe, each applying the practices and philosophy of Outward Bound to fit their local needs. The result is a large tapestry of ideas and course types that seek to fulfill the core values of Outward Bound across the globe.
The first Outward Bound school was founded in 1941 in the tumultuous waters of the North Sea during World War II, to provide young sailors with the experiences and skills necessary to survive at sea. Named after the nautical term for a ship’s departure from the certainties of the harbor, Outward Bound was a joint effort between British shipping magnate Sir Lawrence Holt and progressive German educator Kurt Hahn. Hahn had developed his progressive ideas, first as founder of the Salem School in Germany, and later at Gordonstoun, a boarding school in Scotland, that soon became one of Britain’s most distinguished and innovative schools. Hahn believed education must encompass both the intellect and character of a person. In creating the first Outward Bound school, he was able to utilize the experiential learning model to employ real and powerful experiences as a means to gain self-esteem, discover innate abilities, and cultivate a sense of responsibility toward others. Outward Bound has since become the premier adventure-based education program in the world.
In September 1991, fifty years after Hahn founded Outward Bound, James Bradley Rowe (Jim) traveled to Costa Rica by land after working as an instructor for Colorado Outward Bound School (COBS). During the first year in Costa Rica he focused on learning first-hand about the indigenous culture, rainforest ecology, and geography of Costa Rica. He returned the second year with a single raft and some scuba diving equipment to begin an outdoor adventure company.
Rowe’s third year saw expansion with equipment, river rafting, and mountaineering surrounding his central location in Quepos, which had three uncrowded rivers ideal for rafting. Running day trips on the rivers helped him build the capital needed to establish a school for running courses more relevant to his philosophical approach to instructing. Slowly, he started leading trips whose objectives were to learn through adventure. He founded Save the Rainforest Expeditions School (STRES) to work with youth while applying the same philosophies as he used at COBS. STRES strived to focus on teaching self-reliance, leadership, compassion, and service in a Costa Rican environment.
In 1994, Rowe applied for and received a provisional charter, which would become a permanent charter after three years dependent on the ability to adhere to Outward Bound International’s (OBI) policies and procedures.
In September 1997, Outward Bound Costa Rica received a full charter from Outward Bound International and established within Costa Rica as a fundación, the Costa Rican equivalent to a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Since 1997, Outward Bound Costa Rica has honed the approach to experiential education in Central America. We strive to provide the opportunity for individuals and groups to understand their personal values and build a sense of self-worth by uniquely leverage the physical challenges of the natural environment here. Our staff love sharing their knowledge and passion about the local environment, outdoor activities, and conservation with students.