Due to safety considerations related to COVID-19, we’ve cancelled all summer programming until September 1. We are continuing to plan and enroll for Fall 2020 programming. Registration for 2021 courses will be available in August 2020.
Dear Students, Families, Alumni, Donors, and the Northwest Outward Bound Community,
I hope this letter finds you and your families safe. I’m writing today with a heavy heart. We have made the difficult decision to cancel our July and August wilderness courses. While what we can offer students may be needed more than ever at this time, unfortunately we will not be able to do so this summer.
The factors contributing to this decision are numerous. Most of our courses take place on state and federal lands which are currently closed, and Oregon restrictions prohibit overnight programs for school aged children this summer. Additionally, proper physical distancing and the lack of available testing hinder our ability to run safe, high-quality courses. Ultimately, our high standard of safety and care, and our continued commitment to reducing viral spread drives this very tough decision. As a result, our governing Board of Directors voted on May 19, 2020 to cancel all of Northwest Outward Bound School’s wilderness courses with start dates in July and August. Our school is part of a national network affiliated with Outward Bound USA and we’ve worked closely these past months to ensure coordination and alignment in safety standards. They have provided a statement regarding their approach and response to COVID-19 HERE.
Our staff feel a deep sense of loss for the student experiences and growth that will be missed this summer. We know how critically these experiences are needed right now, not just for our students but also for ourselves. In the midst of a global pandemic, we know that our core outcomes are crucial, and the social and emotional learning we facilitate is badly needed at this time. We wish we could operate this summer, and it's devastating in so many ways to have to cancel. But we also know it is the prudent and appropriate action.
We exist to serve our students, and to do our part to create a world that is more sustainable, peaceful, and equitable. In the face of this pandemic, we remain committed to this mission and know that in the coming year it is more crucial than ever to serve students. We have asked that currently enrolled students consider a fully transferable credit, usable through September 2021. Our hope is that all of our students from 2020 are able to register for 2021 so that impactful Outward Bound experiences are simply delayed, not missed. Courses for next summer will be available for enrollment beginning this August.
We know that our challenge is not unique and that your family may also be financially impacted. If you are able to support Northwest Outward Bound School through these challenging times by making a donation, your gift is needed and deeply appreciated. Donate using this link: https://www.nwobs.org/donate/. Your donation to NWOBS, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, is tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law. For those who can, we ask you to join us in investing in a future that enables us to rise to the new needs of our students.
As an organization, we are leaning into our capacity to adapt. It’s what we do on course, and it’s what we have been doing during this pandemic. We are exploring online courses, deepening our engagement with 50+ years of alumni, and continuing to build impactful partnerships with other organizations so that we can serve, inspire and help this generation of youth navigate the challenges posed by COVID-19. I welcome your ideas and suggestions as we make our way through this uncharted territory, and we’ve created a SURVEY to capture your ideas about how we can adapt. We will continue to tap into our values and our community, and I am incredibly grateful for your support as we lean on one another. I know that we can face this challenge as a community; there is more in us than we know, and we are Outward Bound, resilient together.
Marc Heisterkamp Executive Director Northwest Outward Bound School
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