By Ashley Lodato

Because they spend most of their time out in the mountains, on the rocks and in the seas of Puget Sound, Outward Bound students have a fairly low profile around the Methow Valley. Yet their impact on our community is tremendous. You’re probably not aware, for example, that Outward Bound provides about 1,350 volunteer hours in the Methow Valley each year (that’s equivalent to 56 days!).

Service is a core component of all Outward Bound programs, because Outward Bound’s founder believed that one of the ways to develop strong personal character was to learn the value of being of service to others. So whether an Outward Bound program is seven days or a whole semester long, Outward Bound plans in at least one service project.

Although the local Outward Bound program has provided service for many organizations and individuals in the Methow Valley, lately they’ve been trying to prioritize meaningful and recurring projects with a core group of Methow Valley partners. Says Outward Bound program director Erika Halm, “Having dedicated service partners is valuable to us because generally the quality of the project and the sense of accomplishment and relevancy is a lot higher with returning partners.”

Photo by Ashley Lodato
Outward Bound students relax in the shade after helping Methow Arts set up for Arts Fest at the Twisp Town Park.

I spent last Sunday morning with a wonderful Outward Bound group and their instructors, setting up for Arts Fest. Methow Arts is a tiny organization, and the festival prep that the Outward Bound group accomplished in two hours would have taken the three of us staff members a full, hot, exhausting day.

Methow Arts is just one beneficiary of Outward Bound’s service ethic. In the past couple of years, Outward Bound groups have painted and done yard work for TwispWorks, Room One and Jamie’s Place, worked in the Classroom in Bloom garden, weeded and harvested with Red Shed, helped Methow Trails with signage and trail maintenance, repaired fences and painted for Little Star Montessori School, weeded and repaired irrigation with the Methow Conservancy, weeded with the U.S. Forest Service, and helped private landowners with post-fire native plant restoration.

Erika talks about how Outward Bound helps students transfer the lessons of service learned on their Outward Bound courses to their experiences at home: “The framing is so important, so that students understand what their few hours of work are doing for this community. Pulling weeds in 90-degree weather after you’ve been backpacking for three weeks may sound uninspiring, but proper framing about recovery and restoration post-fire and seeing photos of what Outward Bound students have accomplished in three years can make it really rewarding! Service is one of our outcomes and taking the concept from on course (service to your patrol) to our community helps provide inspiration and some examples of transference back to their home communities for our students.”

From the Methow Valley nonprofit community to Outward Bound — thank you!


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