The History behind Outward Bound

Outward Bound is a non-profit, outdoor-education organization which aims to encourage personal growth as well as social skills of participants by using challenging expeditions and activities in the outdoors.

The mission statement of Outward Bound South Africa is to empower young South Africans with the character, will, values and self-belief to live their lives to the full and to consistently make the right choices.” Outward Bound South Africa does this through adventure-based learning interventions, providing safe, expeditionary learning experiences that open the eyes, mind and souls of our participants. In so doing Outward Bound South Africa aims to set thousands of young people free from lives of poverty, mediocrity and destruction, and to contribute to the prosperity, pride and success of our country. We use outdoor and adventure activities as a profound metaphor through which to promote individual growth and community transformation.


Who had the brains to put this together?

Kurt Hahn and Lawrence Holt, with the support of the Blue Funnel Line, started the first Outward Bound School situated in Aberdovey in Wales in 1941. Outward Bound grew out of Hahn’s work in the development of the Gordonstoun School and what is now known as the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. Kurt Hahn felt that young people were not prepared for the hardships of life on a mental, emotional or physical level.  He saw their lack of enthusiasm, lack of care and skill, lack of adventurous spirit and lack of motivation.  He knew that qualities such as perseverance, compassion, initiative, fitness and life experience were lacking in the youth.  Outward Bound’s founding mission was to give young men the ability to survive harsh conditions at sea during the war by teaching confidence, perseverance, and tenacity of spirit and to build experience of adventure and to handle harsh conditions.

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Outward Bound South Africa Founded in the aftermath of Apartheid, as a result of the visionary efforts of Charles P Stetson, an American philanthropist from Connecticut. Outward Bound SA started in 1992. Today, Outward Bound SA’s central focus is to impact the lives of young people in South Africa who have been marginalized and disadvantaged by the political history and injustices of the past. It helps people develop life skills, compassion and a determined, positive attitude toward life and its many challenges.

 What’s In a Name…

The name Outward Bound comes from a nautical expression that refers to the moment a ship leaves the harbor. This is also signified by Outward Bound’s use of the nautical flag, called the Blue Peter.

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Our motto: “To Serve, To Strive and not To Yield,” was adapted by JF Fuller from “Ulysses“, a poem written by Alfred Lord Tennyson.


… Come, my friends.
Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Though much is taken, much abides; and though

We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are —
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

Alfred Lord Tennysen

Our programs are challenging, but never overwhelming; they stretch but never break; they are memorable and life changing.