Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Kili Team 2015: Bill Elgie

Did you know: Kilimanjaro lies within the 756-square-kilometer Kilimanjaro National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is one of the few places on earth that encompasses every ecological life zone including tropical jungle, savannah, and desert to montane forests, subalpine plants, and the alpine zone above timberline.

Our next profiled climber, Bill Elgie, is certainly looking forward to seeing the part and its sights. Learn more about Bill's journey here:

"Although I studied biochemistry at University, I have always known that I wanted to work in outdoor education.   From summer camp counselor to canoe tripper to field naturalist, I have always pursued jobs that helped me develop as an outdoor leader.   For me, working at Outward Bound was always my “dream job”.  From 1987 to 1993 (with some interruptions) I was lucky enough to work for Outward Bound as an instructor and course director here in Ontario and overseas in Australia, Wales and Scotland.  It’s been over 20 years since Leslie and I retired from OB to get “real jobs” and raise our 3 children, but in my mind, I am still an Outward Bound instructor.  

For the past 15 years I have worked for Upper Canada College as Director of their Outdoor Education Centre, “The Norval Outdoor School”, located on the Credit River near Georgetown, Ontario.  We live right on campus with a 450-acre forest as our back yard. It has been a great place to live and raise a family.  

This year my wife Leslie Hoyle and I are taking a deferred salary leave (sometimes called a 4 over 5) to try out new adventures and to revisit some of our old favourites.  We are avid canoeists, so many of our plans involve canoe trips, but we are open to all possibilities.  When Sarah told us there was the opportunity to join the Kilimanjaro 2015 expedition, we jumped at the chance to be part of such an awesome group, raise funds for valuable OB programs and to have the trip of a lifetime."

To support Bill in his journey, please consider giving to his personal giving page here.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Kili Team 2015: Leslie Hoyle

Did you know: Kilimanjaro was first climbed on October 5, 1889 by German geologist Hans Meyer, Marangu scout Yoanas Kinyala Lauwo, and Austrian Ludwig Purtscheller. After reaching the summit, Meyer later wrote that they gave “three ringing cheers, and in virtue of my right as its first discoverer christened this hitherto unknown—the loftiest spot in Africa and the German Empire—Kaiser Wilhelm’s Peak.”

She may not be the first, but our next profiles climber, Leslie Hoyle, will have a trek no less challenging or important.  Read more about Leslie's journey here:

"I was working as an outdoor education teacher when I met Bill. After we married, we worked for Outward Bound Australia, then travelled back to work for OB in Canada. Our next season we had a 6-week old baby in tow, so I became Logistics Coordinator at Homeplace.  Although I haven't worked for OB since 1993 those years have certainly affected my approach to life. 

I never thought I would leave Outdoor Ed but with three young children I eventually became a classroom teacher.  I am currently on a "4 over 5" year off from my job as a music teacher in a K to grade 5 school in Milton with the Halton District School Board. I am proud that after a lifetime of family canoe trips our older children, Cameron (age 21 at U of Guelph) and Evelyn (age 19 at Kings in Halifax), have both had summer jobs as canoe trip leaders.  Our youngest daughter Annie (age 13) is a jazz singer with a wicked cross-bow draw. My favourite hobbies are singing barbershop with the Circle of Harmony Chorus, sewing quilts and canoe tripping.

Sarah and I co-instructed a memorable OB course back in the day, and I am absolutely thrilled to be going on expedition with her again."

To support Leslie in her journey, please consider giving to her personal giving page here.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Kili Team 2015: Anne Fitzgerald

Did you know: Mount Meru, a 14,980-foot volcanic cone, lies 45 miles west of Kilimanjaro. It is an active volcano; has a snowcap; lies in Arusha National Park; and is often climbed as a training peak for Kilimanjaro.

Well she may not be training on Mount Meru, but our next profiled climber, Anne Fitzgerald, is certainly training away. Read more about Anne's journey here:

"I consider myself fortunate to currently serve on the Board of Directors of Outward Bound Canada ... and am honoured to undertake this challenging climb with the intent that I be able to help other people participate in the incredible programs offered by Outward Bound.  

By day, I now work as the Chief Legal Officer for Cineplex Inc. and I love my work, but I have a built-in desperate need to be in the outdoors.  As a youth from North Carolina, I had the opportunity to participate in my first Outward Bound program, which eventually led to participation in a number of OB schools in the US, eventually my undertaking work leading a youth leadership development expedition in Alaska.   My youth Outward Bound experiences were instrumental in my developing inner strength - and I am grateful for those experiences as I have had to draw upon that Outward Bound resilience many times in my adult life, both personally and professionally.  

While I am an outdoorsman at heart, I have been sitting at a desk for many years now and, admittedly, I'm a bit intimidated to be taking on Kilimanjaro at this stage in my life. I last climbed a mountain of any substance 25 years ago!  This challenge will undoubtedly bring back those feelings from when I was a teenager where I experienced the most formative learnings of my life.  And now through this Kilimanjaro fundraising expedition, I have opportunity to give back to this great program and ensure that people who are less fortunate than I was have this same opportunity!"

To support Anne in her journey, please consider giving to her and Ian's personal giving page here.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Kili Team 2015: Ian Tuck

Did you know: The youngest person to climb Kilimanjaro is Keats Boyd, an American who trekked up Uhuru Peak at age 7. What's most interesting though is that he managed to dodge the 10-year-old minimum age limit!

Our next profiled climber, Ian Tuck, hopes to take-on the challenge of Kilimanjaro with the energy of a 7-year-old. Read more about Ian's journey here:

"I am President at NoGlobalBorders (a Logistics Software & Customs Brokerage company) by day, and President of Bon Vivant Spirits Agents by night. While I don’t have a long history of climbing intimidating mountains, and most of my contact with the wilderness has been through childhood viewings  of “Wild Kingdom” episodes (with Marlon Perkins, sponsored by Mutual of Omaha), I *was* a Beaver, Cub Scout and Boy Scout. That said, my wife Anne Fitzgerald (who is an experienced mountaineer and outdoorswoman) is on the board of Outward Bound, and I’m looking forward to sharing the experience of a multi-day trek with her, and chronicling via words and photos our trip up Kili.

Through [my wife] Anne Fitzgerald’s stories of her experiences with Outward Bound and my experience with the Toronto chapter of Outward Bound, I’ve seen how much of a difference the organization makes in people’s lives. It’s an honour to be participating in this climb to further the valuable work that they do."

To support Ian in his journey, please consider giving to his and Anne's personal giving page here.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Kili Team 2015: Richenda Crawford

Did you know: Kilimanjaro is a giant stratovolcano that began forming a million years ago when lava spilled from the Rift Valley zone. The mountain was built by successive lava flows. Two of its three peaks—Mawenzi and Shira—are extinct while Kibo, the highest peak is dormant.

Unintimidated by Kilimanjaro's volcanic peaks, our next profiled climber is Richenda Crawford. Learn more about Richenda's journey here:

"20 years ago I was introduced to Outward Bound through an invitation to attend a focus group, which led to chairing the famous out of the box ‘In Town event’, joining the Board of Outward Bound Western Canada, and eventually becoming a very proud Alumna of the BC 21-day Adult Mountain Challenge in 2000.

While this was the most physically demanding venture of my life, it was also the most rewarding and left a lifelong impact. As I was on the Board at the time, I was looked upon by the two instructors as the most unlikely person in my patrol to accomplish this, and was probably only there to spy.  But I was strong mentally and completed the challenge, bare boobs and all, and still keep those memories close to my heart to get me through difficult times.

I continue to support Outward bound’s Women of Courage program, a cause I’m very committed to, as even within my own financial services practice I’ve too often witnessed the scars verbal abuse can leave, especially among women in their 70’s who are widowed or given no say in their financial matters, then left with no self-esteem to carry them forward.

While born with ballet slippers, I continue to challenge myself physically and mentally and keep plugging away one step at a time.  Sometimes a small step is all it takes. Whether that step takes you to the top of Mt. Kilimanjaro or toward a less adventurous pursuit, your choice is to keep moving, at your own pace.  Or do nothing at all. 

Over the years I’ve continued to cultivate a passion for many outdoor activities and have been fortunate to have travelled the globe.  Though happy to call Vancouver home, the draw to the unbeaten paths found in the less developed parts of the world have particularly captured my heart.

And in that spirit, I am proud to be part of the 2015 Kili climb with Outward Bound Canada.  Go team go!"

To support Richenda in her journey, please consider giving to her personal giving page here.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Kili Team 2015: David Wong

Did you know: The oldest person to summit Kilimanjaro is 85-year-old Swiss-Canadian Martin Kafer who reached the top of Uhuru Peak in 2012, beating Richard Byerley who hiked to the summit in 2011 at age 84. Kafer’s incredible feat is also amazing because his wife Esther became the oldest women to climb Kilimanjaro at age 84. The couple are now duel record holders as the oldest man and oldest women to have successfully climbed Mount Kilimanjaro.

Well he is certainly nowhere near the oldest climber, but it will still be a memorable experience for our next profiled climber, David Wong, none the less.  Read more about his journey here:

"To serve and strive and not to yield - I remember at the young age of 20 (hmm seems so long ago) those words made quite an impact on our very green outward bound group at the Keremeos Mtn School in BC.  Despite wanting to yield a few times the great guides and program inspired us to somehow dig deeper and to actually enjoy the outdoor mountain experience and the inner strength it developed.  The unique outdoor environment for building teamwork and compassion certainly started a lifelong love of the outdoors and of thinking beyond one's own needs. 

Soon after I ended up going into Family Medicine at UBC and I am now a family doctor doing locums in rural Alberta.  This has given me time to pursue my love of the outdoors both locally and overseas with trekking, mountaineering, canoeing and backcountry ski trips. I have been fortunate enough to volunteer at Alpine Club of Canada mountaineering camps as a camp doctor and to accompany good friends on outdoor trips up in the western and eastern Canadian Arctic as well as overseas in Ladakh,  the Andes and Himalayan mountain regions.

It has been great to start shifting into a giving back mode with some overseas work and supporting friends in their developing country medical health initiatives. Having received a bursary from outward bound to attend the Keremeos camp so many years ago it is fitting to return the support back towards the present excellent outward bound programs.  I am looking forward to a repeat great experience on Kilimanjaro with an enthusiastic team spearheaded by the passionate Sarah Wiley and her amazing crew."

To support David in his journey, please consider giving to his personal giving page here.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Kili Team 2015: Jill Wagman

Did you know: Kilimanjaro is not a peak you can climb on your own. It is mandatory to climb with a licensed guide and have porters carry your equipment. This sustains the local economy and allows local people to reap the rewards of tourism.

Jill Wagman will be one of our climbers who gets to climb with our excellent team of guides this January.  Read more about Jill and her journey here:

"Growing up in Toronto as an only child of mature parents, I had little exposure to the outdoors, with the exception of summer camp, which was my favorite part of the year. As a teen and young adult, I embraced camping and learned my true love for the peace and inner strength the outdoors gave to me.

A few years after graduating university, I joined Eckler Ltd., an actuarial consulting firm. In 2000, I became an owner of the firm and, in 2012, I was appointed the firm's Managing Principal. Despite the long hours, tremendous challenges and being tied to a desk for days on end, I love my job. But as time passes, I recognize that I need to do more for myself and my community. I want to make an impact by either influencing or helping people, while challenging myself in ways that I never have.

When I was invited to climb Kilimanjaro with Outward Bound I realized it was the perfect opportunity for me to test my strength (inner and outer). I believe that climbing Kilimanjaro will develop me in ways I still can't fully comprehend, while enabling me to support an organization dedicated to positively transforming individuals by helping them find their own inner strength.

As our adventure draws near, I am extremely excited (and a bit nervous) for the experiences that lay ahead. I look forward to developing new friendships, learning new things and hopefully accomplishing something I never would have dreamed I could do!

I am absolutely delighted to be joining the 2015 Kilimanjaro team. I look forward to the shared adventure, meeting each unique personality and the Outward Bound journey that awaits in January 2015."

To support Jill in her journey, please consider giving to her personal giving page here.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Kili Team 2015: Jo Hoffman

Did you know: Kilimanjaro has 2.2 square kilometers of glacial ice and is losing it quickly due to global warming. The glaciers have shrunk 82% since 1912 and declined 33% since 1989. It may be ice free within 20 years, dramatically affecting local drinking water, crop irrigation, and hydroelectric power.

While that is certainly a concerning environmental issue, one woman who will be able witness this issue first-hand is Jo Hoffman.  Jo is also part of the 2015 Mt. Kilimanjaro team.  You can learn more about her journey here:

"I am a "Fifty Something" Mother of two boys aged 19 and 17 and partner of Pippa for 29 years (but who's counting).  We live in Langley, British Columbia on 5 acres with 2 horses, one standard poodle, one cat and 3 goldfish.  I am a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst in private practice. The focus of my work is using 'talk therapy' to help people, most of whom are having troubles related to past traumas.

When I first read the promo material from about the Kilimanjaro climb my first thought was that my eldest son Aidan, who had spent two summers on Outward Bound programs would love to have a chance some day to climb Kili. But then, another  thought,  a far more dangerous thought came to mind,  "Why not me?"  "Why not now?"  I gave it some thought. There seemed to be lots of good reasons for it to be me, and for it to be now. But mostly, I heard the Knock of Opportunity. And as ususal, it seemed to me to be a good idea to answer. 

But then there was the fund raising.  Yikes! The effort involved in preparing to climb a mountain is one thing, but fund raising, that's a whole other level of challenge. Once I managed to calm the anxiety caused by the thought of shy old me having to ask people for money, I saw the importance of the fund raising component.

I have first hand experience with how outdoor leadship experiences can change lives.  As a young adult I led canoe trips for youths, both for 'Junior Rangers' in Northern Ontario and for troubled youths who lived in a facility in Edmonton.  As was true with my own son, you could see them  flourish  in the ability to take responsibility for themselves and to care about the well being of others. As a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst, I have no doubt of the benefits for survivors of trauma.  At this point in my life, I'd like to do what I can to enable others to experience these benefits through Outward Bound's scholarship program. 

So its really a win-win all round.  I get the chance to challenge myself in a whole new way (both mountain climbing and fund raising) and I have a chance to 'pay forward' all the opportunities I've been fortunate enough to have.

So here's to challenges, in what ever form they appear!  Its a chance to live out of the best parts of ourselves! "

To support Jo in her journey, please consider giving to her personal giving page here.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Kili Team 2015: Sharlene Weitzman

Did you know: At 5895 metres (19,341 feet) tall, Mount Kilimanjaro is the tallest free-standing mountain in the world (rather than being part of a mountain range).

Well that fact doesn't intimidate the first of our Kili climbers to be profiled! Sharlene Weitzman has started her fundraising and is preparing to take-on Kili as we speak. To learn more about her, here's a little more on Sharlene:

"When I told my seven year old son I was climbing Mount Kilimanjaro he made me promise I would go with him again when his “lungs are big enough”. Hello Kilimanjaro 2025. Until then, I’m focused on reaching the summit in 2015, talking to my maker and embracing the second half of my life from the top of the world. 

I was born to advocate for children. I am currently the Chief Operating Officer of Bayfield Treatment Centers a multi-disciplinary mental health treatment centre for the most complex young people from across Canada. In my role as a social worker over the past twenty years I have recommended Outward Bound too many of the young people I have worked with and their participation in the program has always been life altering. Now it’s my turn. 

 When I was seventeen I climbed Mount Tateyama in Japan. At 40 I climbed down Mount Etna in Italy. At 47, Kilimanjaro here I come!! 

I am thrilled to challenge myself: physically, emotionally and spiritually and to share the experience with a group of new friends’. I’m particularly pleased to be undertaking this adventure with my dear friend Jill Wagman all under the auspices of Outward Bound."

To support Sharlene in her journey, please consider giving to her personal giving page here.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

2015 Outward Bound Canada:
Mt. Kilimanjaro Fundraising Expedition

From January 11th to 22nd, 2015, 10 climbers and 2 Outward Bound instructors will be in Tanzania, attempting to summit Mt. Kilimanjaro, the highest mountain on the African continent at 5895m.

However, this team’s challenge began months ago with they each individually committed to physically and mentally preparing for the climb and raising funds for Outward Bound Canada’s “Core Funded Programs” for women survivors of violence, Veterans, Aboriginal youth and inner city youth.  Our goal as a team is to raise $50,000 for these programs so that more individuals representing these populations can experience Outward Bound.

Over the next several weeks we will be profiling each of our 2015 Mt. Kilimanjaro climbers so you can learn more about them and their incredible efforts.

Please Join Us in reaching our goal by making a donation to the
2015 Mt. Kilimanjaro Climb and clicking on the “Canada Helps” icon below:

You can make a general donation to the climb or dedicate it specifically to one of the climbers.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Alumni Profile: Daniel Kelly

From Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Daniel is active in student government at his school, as well as being a peer tutor and a member of his school's improv team. As such, he made an outstanding candidate for a 2014 RBC Aboriginal Youth Leadership Scholarship.  

Upon returning from his trip, Daniel sent a heartfelt thank-you letter to RBC Foundation, who funded his Outward Bound course. His experience mirrors what we have heard from so many of you over the years. It is a reminder of why Outward Bound Canada and generous partners like RBC are deeply committed to Outward Bound’s charitable initiatives, including the RBC Aboriginal Youth Leadership Scholarship Program.
Here’s what Daniel had to say:

To the Wonderful RBC,

In the following letter I can only begin to describe my immense gratitude.  Thank-you, thank-you for this life changing experience that I could’ve never had, had it not been for your generous donation.  The RBC Aboriginal Youth Leadership Scholarship brought me an opportunity that I will never forget.

I left my home on Vancouver Island, British Columbia and travelled across the entire great nation of Canada.  Far, far away from my home and comfort zone I lived through the greatest adventure of my life. The Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick became my home for the following two and a half weeks. In this home I laughed, I cried, created bonds with new people and was pushed to the absolute limit of my abilities.

We spent the first night getting to know our new family. It was strange at first but soon we warmed up to each other. Nervous and excited, we went to sleep.  The following days we spent in and around the marvelous and extreme tides of the misty Bay of Fundy. We paddled around the coast, stopping only to camp and eat.  We lived in our boats. I christened mine ‘Lemon of Hope’ after its bright yellow colour. We became salty and sandy, learned about the tides and water, tried sardines for the first time and developed a passionate hate for wetsuits. We learned how to stuff a dry sack, carry a kayak and do the sweep stroke by sitting on our life jackets. My aching arms and soaked feet became a sign of satisfaction and enjoyment. My biggest success of the trip came as I led the kayak fleet back to our home-base campsite, fulfilling my role as ‘Leader of the Day.’

We finally exited our boats for the last time. We said goodbye to our pumps, paddles and neoprene gloves. We packed up our hiking backpacks and headed into the coastal wilderness for our intense hiking trip. Never have I felt so bitten, tired, damp and smelly as I did during our backpacking expedition. Pitching our tents every night and painstakingly boiling water over our tiny camp stove. On our final three days the sky opened up and the water just poured.  The perpetual state of being wet became my biggest challenge.  We truly became a team and family during those hard days. When you are the coldest and wettest you’ve ever been, huddled with nine other people under a single tarp, a bond is formed. 

I shared this time with a group of crazy, amazing and inspirational people that I will never forget. I shared some insane highs with this group, a full-out water war between the kayaks that carried on to the beach under the gorgeous sunshine.  And some pretty dismal lows, shivering and wet and exhausted with nothing dry in sight as the rain pounded on. 

This experience has changed my life.  Never will anything be as amazing (or awful) as my experiences on Outward Bound. My eyes have been opened as I was exposed to a plethora of brand new and amazing things. I can never fully express how deeply and truly thankful I am for this wonderful time.


Daniel Kelly

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Alumni Profile: Krista Thrasher

When alumna Krista Thrasher saw a job posting for a new National Marketing & Events Coordinator at Outward Bound Canada she jumped at the opportunity – in fact, hers was the very first resume we received! After participating in a 2004 OBC Youth Challenge course, Krista’s passion for Outward Bound Canada and its programs never ceased. The organization held a very special place in Krista’s heart.  Now we are able to put her amazing strengths to work for all of our alumni, donors and prospective students and parents.  We are very excited to have her on board to work with all of you.

You can read more about Krista’s journey here:

“ It was 2004 and I was 14 years old. Like many 14-year-olds, I was in transition. I was a pre-teen, my hormones were raging in full force and I was just about to enter my freshman year of high school that September. To top it all off, I had just entered foster care. 

My body was changing, my school was changing and now my family was changing too. 

In order to help me process all these changes, Jared, my social worker, proposed I take an Outward Bound Canada course in the summer.

All I could think was, "21 days? That's pretty much an entire month!" Let’s be real, could I really pick up and leave my friends for 21 days? No shower for 21 days?! I saw it as a huge challenge but I was intrigued. I attended the information session and I was approved for the course, as well as a bursary. I decided to go, and that was it! It was settled. 

Two weeks before the course, Jared and I grabbed the course packing list and bought everything I would need for the trip. My course start-date was fast approaching and I was both terrified and excited. 

Day one of course crept up before I knew it. I said goodbye to Jared and he said, "Good luck! You'll do great!" When I got to the course start location and met the rest of the group there were about 10 girls in total, all of us going through our own very unique transitions. As soon as I met the entire group, I knew it was going to be an interesting journey. 

To start, we learned the basics of paddling and how to use the forest as a washroom, packed our bags and off we went. I remember it pouring rain for about 3 days straight. It was rough. We paddled and paddled. It seemed like we were making no progress at all, the wind was so strong. Our canoe kept filling with water, we were drenched. We kept moving, and eventually we would find a nice place to set up camp. We piled out of the canoes and scrambled for our dry shoes and clothes. I didn't realize it then, but I was so grateful for those dry socks and shoes. 

I also learned how to portage on course. I had no idea what portaging was but I soon found out. I remember climbing over these huge boulders thinking "how do these instructors expect everyone and everything to make it over this stretch? Are they nuts?" We did it. The self-doubt may have kicked in, but we pushed through. 

Mid-course was the 48-hour solo. I have to admit, I was dreading it. The thought of being alone for 48 hours made me sick. I hated being alone. I cried pretty much the entire time and when my instructors came by my site to check in, I would start rambling and try to talk their ear off at the chance for human contact. They would smile and carry on. It was all part of my journey. 

In 21 days I had learned how to portage, paddle a canoe, white-water kayak, rock climb, walk high-ropes, run 7km, create my own shelter in the woods and solo a canoe. Physically, I was learning new skills and building resilience. 

The coolest take-away looking back after 10 years is that I'm finally realizing my greatest strength. Although I remember acting as the motivator of our group in tough situations, I didn’t see it as a strength at the time. Mid-portage, or in the morning when it was time to get up and no one wanted to leave their tent, I'd encourage the girls and put a positive spin on things. I simply assumed that was just how I had operated in those specific situations. However, after pulling out my report card the other night (I received a high-school credit for my course) and reading comments from my instructors, it became clear that this was bigger than the occasional word of support, it is part of who I am. 

My Outward Bound course showed me where I thrive and where I need to be patient with myself. My greatest strength is positivity and it has carried me to where I am today. As for being at peace in solitude, I have come to terms with the fact that this will be a life-long practice for me, and that's okay. Outward Bound has helped me to identify this challenge in my life and has given me the stepping-stones to work with it.

OBC has always had a place in my heart, and it's no wonder. The course taught me resilience in a time I needed it the most. I was invited back to OBC the following summer to take a leadership course in the Rocky Mountains but unfortunately I didn't attend. After University I reached out to OBC to connect again, this time on a different level, with a marketing focus! It’s now 10 years later and my two worlds are colliding.

In closing, I would like to send thanks to every donor supporting Outward Bound Canada. You really can provide a life-changing experience for teens that need it the most. Not only did it help me when I was in one of the toughest times of my life, but it has followed through and helped me in some unexpected and wonderful ways throughout my life.” 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Powerful Impact of Boys-Only Programs

At Outward Bound Canada we believe that young boys need a safe but challenging environment to grow and a sounding board to help them reflect as they explore their place in the world and to determine where they see themselves heading. Who do they want to be as an adult? What are their responsibilities as a man? What are they good at? How can they develop better relationships at home or at school? What are their unique gifts and where is their place in the world?

A formal rite of passage traditionally helped young men find the answers to many of these questions. Every culture has a different tradition and timing for this particular milestone; however, they all generally have the same purpose - to propel a boy’s transition into manhood, giving him the confidence and tools he may need along the way. Decision-making is upon them and a rite of passage can act as a pivotal moment in their life, helping young men get to know themselves well enough that they can navigate through the years that lie ahead.

Today, when a boy definitively makes the transition into manhood is certainly up for debate. Is a boy’s rite of passage when he receives his driver’s license, allowing him the freedom to come and go at his own will? Or, when he transitions into high school? Or, maybe it's when he moves out of his family/guardian’s house?

In addition there are more and more young men struggling through their adolescence – whether they have difficulty with school, socializing outside of social media or video games or developing healthy relationships at home or in their communities.  Many young men simply seem unsure of themselves and how they fit in.

Our solution at Outward Bound Canada has been to develop boys-only programming that meets the needs of young men today who are a little lost and uncertain of what they are capable of. Furthermore, these boys-only programs have been around for decades and there's a reason! On course, boys learn important life skills such as caring for themselves, taking responsibility for their choices and confidently express their needs and opinions. Boys-only courses also allow for an open and honest dialogue where young men can feel comfortable discussing the unique challenges that they face without censoring themselves for a co-ed audience. Finally, by learning basic camping and wilderness skills, boys learn to take responsibility for themselves and connect through activities that generations of men before them had grown up learning.  This not only opens their eyes to new experiences, but it also helps them feel capable, skillful and sure of their abilities as they grow into men.

We are helping boys take charge of their life this summer. The following boys-only courses are available for the summer of 2014:

If you think this would be a great experience for your son, just click to sign him up today.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Alumni Profile: Bob Foulkes

Bob Foulkes may have been a little late signing up for Outward Bound, taking his first course at 46, but nevertheless the experience opened the door to a lifetime of adventures that have energized, enlivened, and enthused him for more than 20 years.  This year, at the vibrant age of 65, Bob took on another Outward Bound Canada adventure, he summited Mount Kilimanjaro and helped to raise almost $100,000 in support of Outward Bound Canada’s charitable programs as part of our January 2014 Reach Beyond Expeditions team.

With a new book out titled, Off the Couch and Out the Door (currently available through Outward Bound Canada here, with part of the proceeds being donated back to us), Bob describes his Outward Bound Canada experience and all he gained from that first experience.  The story is characteristic of what we often hear from alumni about their Outward Bound experience, we chose to profile Bob in our March Alumni Corner and share these excerpts from his book.

“In June 1995, at the age of 46, without a taut muscle in my body and weighing in at over 230 pounds, I bumbled and stumbled into my first grand adventure. It was one of those ‘it seemed like a good idea at the time’ stories that men recount to a licensed emergency responder or the attending physician - usually while sitting on the edge of an emergency room examination table.

My life changing experience, my epiphany, was an Outward Bound backpacking trip in the wilds of the Coast mountains north of Whistler, British Columbia’s world famous ski resort. For eight days, I was one of ten who, with two leaders, hiked in the wild, not a road, restaurant, hotel or traffic light in sight. No Holiday Inn, just a tent we packed on our back. No MacDonalds, just non-perishable nuts and grains. No showers, just icy streams to wash away our grime. Rugged yes, beautiful yes, haunting most certainly; relentlessly intimidating to an out-of-shape, overweight city boy - you bet.

I can pinpoint the exact date when I woke up to what I was missing. It happened the day my son came back from a seventeen day Outward Bound adventure. He was a changed man, he had left Calgary a boy and returned home a confident, self assured young man. He radiated energy. Whatever it was he found, it was so bright and shiny that I wanted it too. At 15 he was a bit young to be my muse but he could be my role model. I decided I wanted  my own Outward Bound adventure. 

I wanted to conquer an epic test. I did decide I needed a bit of insurance. I talked two friends, Ian and Stephen, into joining my adventure. Both were single and free of complications. They were older than me and hopefully in worse shape. Cynical, yes; but a man has to do what is in his own interests.
The day arrived. We joined each other in Vancouver and bussed up to Pemberton to meet our group. We were older than the others, six women and one man, by at least 20 years. Most were from BC, the furthest one from Scandinavia; most of us were doing this for the first time. Roy and Colin were experienced leaders who had done many Outward Bound trips. Their obvious competence calmed us all.

Our days were consumed by the basics. We ate food that was chosen because it was light, easy to carry or lasted a week without going bad. We ate couscous, rice, lentils, oatmeal, and every other dry good and grain known in the third world…

We lived in one set of clothes for eight days. A stream provided good news/bad news; a chance to wash off the sweat and grime balanced against the inevitable heart stopping moment when the ice cold water touches delicate skin; I found all my skin was delicate, especially below the waist line. In this simple, elemental trade-off, I came to believe that standards of personal hygiene should be flexible and situational. 

Colin and Roy taught us to rappel down a steep cliff; I’m now ready if I ever need to rappel down from my tenth floor Vancouver apartment … We [also] hiked up a mountain to the summit; our mountain, our summit…. We hiked with a 50 pound pack on our back, the most fun is getting used to the change in my center of gravity. There’s nothing more thrilling than losing my balance and falling backwards in front of everyone…

[Then] we changed campsites, another hike through the bush. From this new site we are sent on a solo, a day of aloneness designed to facilitate self reflection… Roy came to get me 24 hours later. I had survived, passed the time, couldn’t wait for it to end and was packed and ready to go long before he came to get me. I was overjoyed to see him and couldn’t stop chattering. [However], deep reflection, revelations, insight, personal enlightenment and meaningful life lessons eluded me. I came to the realization that deep down, I am quite shallow. 

With as little drama as when we started, we ended our epic adventure in a rainstorm on the edge of a logging road. We shared big hugs and a group picture, one I still cherish…. We went down to the main building, showered, ate real food for the first time, got on our bus and went back to our lives. 
I walked away knowing my life would never be like it was before. My Outward Bound adventure was transformative, I felt profoundly, positively changed. 

[After the trip and] back in Vancouver Kristen, my daughter, met me for a debrief. She gave me a photo, taken a few years back when I was at my worst; a smoker, a drinker, stressed out and hollowed out from work, incapable of even minimal sustained exercise. 

I was Ebenezer Scrooge, visited by the ghost of Christmas past. That picture captured the old me; now there was a chance for a new me. It would take work to make it last but I had at least taken the first steps; now a non drinker, a non-smoker, a bit slimmer and more physically capable than I had ever imagined. Ironically, I was demolishing a big Mac while reflecting on all this; how quickly I revert to my old self. 

I had found some of what Blair discovered, I would be forever grateful that he had broken trail on this adventure. He would occasionally remind me we were not quite equals; he had led the way, he had done it first and he had done it longer, 17 days to my eight. Even so, I could understand his adventure because I had done it; I knew the depth of his courage and his fortitude. We had a bond, better than father/son, we were fellow adventurers. 

I felt a renewed sense of optimism, confidence and energy. 

I was more calm, more self assured, more joyful, more aware and more together. 

Somewhere in the mountains I had dumped my cynicism, ennui and moral fatigue. 

It was a start, who knew where it would lead?” 

To learn more about where his Outward Bound experience led, read Off the Couch. Out the Door, available here, or visit his website: bobfoulkesadventures.com.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Bob Foulkes, Climbing To The Top of Africa

Bob Foulkes may have had a later-than-usual start in signing up for Outward Bound at the age of 46, but his experience opened the door to a lifetime of adventures that have energized, enlivened, and enthused him for more than twenty years. From wilderness hikes in Canada’s Rockies to learn-to-run clinics, marathons and a half Ironman, Bob has really become an unapologetic adventure junkie.

Bob's most recent adventure was part of our January 2014 Mount Kilimanjaro team, at the vibrant age of 65 may we add.  While the climb is challenging and the group's limits were all tested, Bob says his only serious aversion was his reaction to having to wake-up at 11PM on summit day in order to stat climbing, especially when lethargy and a serious loss of appetite due to the elevation were also weighing on him. Bob beautifully describes his full journey on his blog here and we encourage you to check it out.

Congrats on submitting Kilimanjaro Bob! We were proud to have you as part of the team and you really have come to embody Kurt Hahn's words when he said "There is more in us than we know if we could be made to see it; perhaps, for the rest of our lives we will be unwilling to settle for less".

Monday, January 27, 2014

Expedition Successful!

Our January 2014 Kilimanjaro Fundraising Expedition has now, sadly,  come to an end. What a huge success! Our team of 11 participants and 2 Outward Bound Canada instructors, with the excellent support from the local Chagga Tours crew, all summitted the mountain successfully. We also raised $100K for Outward Bound Canada's charitable programs for Women survivors of violence, Veterans dealing with transitional challenges, Aboriginal youth and youth at risk. Thank you all for your support of the climb and of our fundraising efforts - we could not have done it without the backing of friends and family.

Please consider joining the OBC July 2014 Kilimanjaro Expedition in support of our Veterans Program or the January 2015 Expedition. To find out more go to our website. 

Thursday, January 23, 2014

We arrived back in Moshi and the Kilemakyaro Lodge last night, exhausted, dirty, but fulfilled and proud of our group accomplishments. Not only did all 13 of the team summit the highest mountain in Africa (and one of the seven summits), but the team collectively has raised to date $90k. Only $10k more to reach $100K so, if you can help us get there (or have friends who can) please do! All funds raised go to support Outward Bound Canada's charitable programs for women survivors of violence and/or abuse, Canadian military veterans, aboriginal youth and youth At risk. 


After hot showers, an evening celebratory dinner and long sleeps at only 3000ft elevation we all are feeling better today.   This morning we were in Moshi being tourists doing some shopping, eating and visiting with the families of some of our guides. This is a picture of our team lunching at the Union Cafe - a local hangout with great coffee!  

And then later this morning we arrived in Amsterdam. We have been enjoying being at sea level and eating dutch pancakes! Arriving home soon....

Over and Out!

Monday, January 20, 2014

At Millenium Camp

Wow, what an epic 24hrs!

We left last night at midnight and the final members of our group got into our campsite for this evening at 4:00pm - 16hrs later. During that time we climbed 3500ft to the summit of the highest mountain in Africa and then descended 7000ft to our final campsite. We are all exhausted but elated and badly in need of showers and sleep.

Tonight will be our final dinner on the mountain - we are being served the traditional "chagga" meal of banana and meat stew with ugali. I think some of us are hoping there will also be less exotic soup and toast for our "alitude" affected tummies.

Tomorrow we have a final hike out through the forest, amidst beautiful trees and flowers, to our pick up at Mweka Gate and the beginning of celebrations back at the Kilemakyaro Lodge in Moshi. I will try to post some pictures from our adventure once back at the lodge when I have better reception. We love you all and miss you.

In the meantime, here is a picture from climber Kristen's blog of Karanga Camp:

We've Made It!!

Great news, the ENTIRE 2014 Mount Kilimanjaro team made it to the summit this morning!  We started at 12:20. We arrived just before 8:00 and got down about 10:30. We now need to pack up camp and hike for another 5 hours+ to our final camp.

Now the team is heading back down to the Millennium Camp at 12,500ft.

Here is a picture of team climber Kristen's blog (sent by one of our partners, Closing the Gap Healthcare Group) at the top:

And here is a picture from the summit in 2013 so you have a sense of what the 2014 would have seen this morning:

Sunday, January 19, 2014

On our way to the Top!

We are heading up to the top of Mt Kilimanjaro - Uhuru Point - tonight at midnight. Everyone is feeling good, excited and a little anxious. It should take us between 6 to 8 hours to summit, ascending 3500ft or 1000m.   We will then descend back down to our high camp at 16000ft and then onto our final resting spot tomorrow night at the Milenium Camp at 12500ft.   We will put up a post tomorrow morning to let you all know how we did. 

Spirits are high and we are thinking of you all. Send good thoughts our way!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Karanga: Day 4

Today the group arrived at Karanga! The group is great! Everyone is well and feeling good.

Here is an excerpt from climber Kristen's blog:

"We started our hike at 9:00.  Today we tackled the Barranco wall – and Team Outward Bound won!  It is an enormous cliff wall, with switch backs all the way up – 1000′. We often had to use the technique of “3-points of contact” to be safe.  Our guides are amazing.  In tricky spots they stand on the down side, ready to save us.  Luckily our whole team is fit and able – and we handled it like champs!  It certainly is humbling when we watch the porters carry our gear and jugs of water on their head up the wall at twice our speed.  We then went up and down through a few valleys and across small streams.  We arrived at camp around 2:30.  Now we are all chilling in our tents and getting some rest.

It is cold and rainy today (and yesterday too – but I think I forgot to mention that).  It was about 5 degrees this morning.  Nights are below zero.  It is crowded in my Mummy sleeping bag, with 2 hot water bottles, my camera, GPS watch and cell phone and socks and mitts that I need to dry out."

Otherwise, the group is ready for the summit climb tomorrow night. Just finished a great meal in our warm cozy dining tent, eating chocolate and laughing hilariously (especially Meghan!). Fun group, beautiful mountain and incredible adventure. Thank you for your support. Next post from our high camp at 16000ft.

Shira to Barranco: Day 3 of the Kili Climb

The group is well and having an amazing time and enjoying each other's company. Day 3 they travelled from Shira campsite to the Barranco campsite. We got as high as 15000ft and then sleep low at just over 13000ft. They have had beautiful, sunny weather and everyone is well. The next morning they challenged themselves with the famous Barranco Wall. They miss all their friends and family and are grateful for their support.

As climber Kristen wrote on her blog (here): "What an amazingly perfect day!!!"

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Three of our intrepid guides

Three of our intrepid guides - Ape, Cide, Gerald - wearing their OBC buffs! We are in good hands...

Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone on the Bell network.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Leaving for the Mountain!

This morning we are leaving for our mountain and everyone is excited and a bit apprehensive. We had a good "layover" day yesterday at the Kilemakyaro Lodge - eating good food, going for a short practice hike in the noonday hot African sun, napping, more eating and then packing and preparing for our summit attempt. The group has come together well - from BC, Alberta, ON and even Arizona and, in true Outward Bound style, we are building a community. We will likely be unable to send as many photos going forward as it is harder to get the "bandwidth" on the mountain to send big files. We will send when we can. But, we are all healthy and well-excited and ready for our big adventure! Thank you to our families, friends and supporters for your contributions to our fundraising efforts (close to $85k right now and still coming in) and to helping us get here and following our progress.  

The Kili2014 team.  

Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone on the Bell network.

Pre hike yoga moves.


We are all well here at the foot of Kilimanjaro! What a beautiful place to be resting up before our big trek begins tomorrow. We had a sleep in, breakfast of fresh fruit, pancakes, eggs, coffee and tea and then spent some time getting to know each other and meeting our Chagga Tours guides. We are off for a short day hike in the local coffee plantation in order to stretch our legs and prime our climbing legs! In this picture, Martha (one of the OBC guides) is leading us in some pre hike yoga stretches.   

Hakuna Mattata! 

Sarah and the Kili 2014 group.  

Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone on the Bell network.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Pancakes in Amsterdam

The team has arrived safe and sound to Amsterdam, enjoying a pancake breakfast around 4am EST this morning before taking off again for Tanzania.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

And they're off!

Part of the team relaxing in the Toronto airport lounge, awaiting their flight to Tanzania via Amsterdam. 

And The Journey Begins...

Today’s the day the hikers start their journey! They will be leaving Toronto’s Pearson International Airport and flying to Tanzania via Amsterdam.  Then, three days from now, once they get settled and prepped and after registering with the park authority at the Machame Park Gate, they’ll begin their climb through the lush forest at the base of Kilimanjaro. That first day of hiking they will start at an altitude of 5,942ft and climb for 6 hours to a height of 9,911 ft. They’ll hear many exotic birds and may see the black and while Colobus Monkeys as they make their way through the forest before spending their first night at the Machame Camp just above the forest zone. 

For our final climber profile we are featuring none other than the team’s fearless leader herself, Outward Bound Canada’s Executive Director Sarah Wiley.  Read more about Sarah Below and stay tuned for updates straight from the field beginning today!

“I am currently the Executive Director of Outward Bound Canada, a position I have held since June 2010. I got my teaching degree and speciality in Outdoor and Experiential Education in 1989 and began working for Outward Bound Canada as an instructor in 1992. I left Outward Bound in 2004 and moved to Calgary where I worked as Director of Student Life at Strathcona-Tweedsmuir School and then moved to Vancouver Island where I was the Deputy Head of School – Operations at Shawnigan Lake School.

I have a Masters of Education and an MBA, have travelled extensively and have climbed mountains in South America, North America, & Africa. I have led four previous climbs up Mt. Kilimanjaro with all but three of the 40+ climbers successfully summiting. 

My husband and I have a five year old son, Hugh, and a four year old dog named Charlie who both keep us quite busy! Though I work in Toronto at OBC’s head office, I am lucky to live in the country, about 90mins northwest of the city.  I am really looking forward to spending ten days on the mountain with what seems to be a fabulous team and am grateful for the fundraising efforts to date. With the funds raised from this climb, we will be able to increase access to Outward Bound programs to those who will most benefit from them.”

Please help Sarah and her fellow climbers reach their goal by making a donation to the 2013 Mt. Kilimanjaro Climb, clicking on the "Canada Helps" icon below:


Friday, January 10, 2014

So Many Ways to the Top

We are only two days away from our climbers taking off for Tanzania! Climbing Kilimanjaro requires no technical climbing or mountaineering experience. The biggest challenge and danger is the high altitude.  Otherwise, Kilimanjaro has five common routes to its highest summit: Marangu Route; Machame Route; Rongai Route; Lemosho Route; and Mweka Route. The Machame route is the option our climbers will be taking.  Although it is a popular route, it isn’t the easiest, but it is incredibly scenic and gives the climbers one extra day for acclimatization.

Our next climber profile is on Debra Ross.  We wish her and all the climbers the best of luck!  Read more about Debra below.

“Debra Ross’ penchant for success reaches far beyond the typical trail blazed by entrepreneurs before her. Since leaving home at the age of 14, she never had the financial means to pursue a conventional education and completed high school through correspondence. She then completed a post secondary  AMET program at SAIT Polytechnic, graduating with honours.  This acted as a springboard to her current business career which ultimately has served her and her community well.

Debra founded her first company, Gamma-Tech Inspection Ltd., in 2002. Debra was highly criticized by her peers for working in the male-dominated and highly regulated oil and gas industry. She has built her start up into a multiple seven-figure company that is the top of its field. Debra’s perseverance and mindset are evidence of her motto ‘A falling cat always lands on its feet’.

This self-made entrepreneur shares her success with charities and budding entrepreneurs. Debra’s persona will allow her for continued significance as she launches new ventures that will revolutionize the banking and finance industry.”

Please help Debra and her fellow climbers reach their goal by making a donation to the 2013 Mt. Kilimanjaro Climb, clicking on the "Canada Helps" icon below:

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Making the Business World a Better Place… One Step at a Time

Kilimanjaro is not a peak you can climb on your own. It is mandatory to climb with a licensed guide and have porters carry your equipment. This sustains the local economy and enables local people to reap the rewards of tourism. 

Our amazing local guides are from Chagga Tours, founded by mountain guide Michael Nelson Ntiyu from Tanzania and investor and hiker Christina Helbig from Germany.  Outward Bound Canada board member and 2014 Mount Kilimanjaro climber Edyta Pacuk will be meeting the team from Chagga Tours this January.  Read more about Edyta below or check out her personal blog about the tour here: www.marchfifteen.ca/blog.

“Edyta Pacuk, President of MarchFifteen Consulting Inc, has a mission: to make the business world a better place. Her ongoing efforts to connect organizations to community is not only a message in her work, but also her way of living. Whilst being a hopeless ideologist, she is also pragmatic and ensures that conversations about social footprints do not remain on an esoteric plane. Edyta is thoughtful and reflective in her professional practice but definitely could not be described as someone who enjoys sitting still!

Climbing Kilimanjaro with Outward Bound is another way in which she wants to contribute to increasing awareness with a particular focus on the Women of Courage Program which enables victims of violence to transform into Thriving Survivors.”

Please help Edyta and her fellow climbers reach their goal by making a donation to the 2013 Mt. Kilimanjaro Climb, clicking on the "Canada Helps" icon below:

Friday, January 3, 2014

The Loftiest Spot in Africa and the German Empire

Kilimanjaro was first climbed on October 5, 1889 by German geologist Hans Meyer, Marangu scout Yoanas Kinyala Lauwo, and Austrian Ludwig Purtscheller. After reaching the summit, Meyer later wrote that they gave “three ringing cheers, and in virtue of my right as its first discoverer christened this hitherto unknown [peak] —the loftiest spot in Africa and the German Empire—Kaiser Wilhelm’s Peak.”

While she may not be the first to conquer the mountain, Fallon will be no less excited to climb Mount Kilimanjaro this year.  Read more about Fallon below.

 “I am a licensed therapist in the state of Arizona. I provide Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for people who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and personality disorders. I am a Chicago, Illinois native and attended university in Illinois where I was a track athlete. I attended grad and medical school in the state of Arizona. 

Being an athlete throughout my life has been a major influence for me to take on many physical challenges.  Although I am from the city I have always enjoyed outdoor activities. In the last few years I have had the pleasure of experiencing outdoor activities in many different climates, most recently being on a trip to Peru assisting families who reside in the Andes. This experience gave me a first-hand experience of how a little bit of help goes a long way.

My connection to Outward Bound is completely new as Patrick Daniel introduced me to the program after he completed the climb of Kilimanjaro a year ago. I am very happy to be a part of an organization that provides these types of opportunities. I am looking forward to the physical and mental challenge of climbing Mt Kilimanjaro with what looks like a great group of people.”

Please help Fallon and her fellow climbers reach their goal by making a donation to the 2013 Mt. Kilimanjaro Climb, clicking on the "Canada Helps" icon below: