OutwardBoundpostSaturday afternoon was perfect for a game of kickball at the Outward Bound Basecamp. Photo by Don Nelson

 

BY DON NELSON

Outward Bound is back.

After a one-year hiatus, the organization’s Mazama basecamp is ramping up for a full season of activities beginning this month.

The Mazama facility was closed in 2012 because of financial difficulties, but the organization’s leaders said it always intended to re-open. Fundraising and reorganization efforts have brought the multi-faceted outdoor programs back up to full speed in the Methow Valley, where many Outward Bound staff alumni continue to live and work.

The basecamp has been operating on a limited basis for several months, according to Washington Program Director Josh Cole. Staff training began in May.

Last Saturday (June 8), the basecamp hosted a variety of activities for staff, board members and community. An auction raised $9,400 that will be used for student scholarships.

Outward Bound will employ a local staff of about 50, and expects 220 or more students this summer. Staff and students alike come from all over the country.

“We bring a lot to the valley,” Cole said. “We have a positive economic impact.”

Cole had told the Methow Valley News in late 2011 that he expected the basecamp to be operational again in 2013.

Associate Program Director Megan Fraser said the basecamp’s 2013 staff has a combined experience of 284 years. Cole recently received his 10-year pin.

Outward Bound’s Portland-based executive director, Mitsu Iwasaki, was on hand for Saturday’s activities. His Outward Bound experience goes back to 1996 and includes a stint in the Methow.

“It’s thrilling to be back,” Iwasaki said.

Outward Bound training prepares staffers to be community leaders and to take on important roles in other nonprofits, Iwasaki said. He said the Methow staff is “exceptional … they are a real asset.”

Outward Bound board members Steve Smith and David Moskowitz also attended Saturday’s activities, which included a lively kickball game in a meadow under the Goat Wall’s imposing brow.

Andrew Gray

Andrew Gray

Liberty Bell High School student Andrew Gray, who had graduated the night before, took part in the festivities as well. Two years ago, he was the beneficiary of the Outward Bound Pinnacle Scholarship Program. The program matches community mentors with students who engage in course training and community service. Liberty Bell has one scholarship a year.

Gray said his Outward Bound experience helped him develop the determination to pursue his passion for cooking, which means that he will be attending the Oregon Coast Culinary Institute in Coos Bay this fall. Gray’s senior project was about Outward Bound.

Liberty Bell teacher Dani Golden, who is Cole’s wife, said the Pinnacle program is designed to create confidence and leadership skills.

“We have so many students who would benefit,” she said.