Monday, December 28, 2015

Kili Team 2016: Chris Brophy

Mount Kilimanjaro has been the subject of many scientific studies because of its shrinking glaciers. Ice cores taken from Kilimanjaro's Northern Ice Field indicate that Kilimanjaro's glaciers have a "basal age" of 11,700 years. The slope glaciers retreated rapidly between 1912 and 1953, in response to a sudden shift in climate at the end of the 19th century that made them "drastically out of equilibrium", and more slowly thereafter. Their continuing demise indicates they are still out of equilibrium in response to a constant change in climate over the last 100 years.

Chris will be one of the few people who will have an opportunity to see Kilimanjaro's glaciers up close. Chris is 29 years old and currently resides in beautiful Victoria, BC. He spends the majority of his time working on his pilot’s license, triathlon training, and enjoying his beautiful province. With the winter coming, skiing will certainly be getting a lot of attention as well. He is also attempting to learn Spanish,, enjoys long walks on the beach :)

Chris is pumped for Kili 2016 and thinks it's going to be an amazing adventure! This is what he had to say about why he chose to take on this incredible journey:

"I completed my first Outward Bound program during high school in the summer after grade 10. Up to that point I had enjoyed Scouts Canada excursions, and camping with my family, however the mountaineering course in British Columbia raised that bar exponentially. The course was 23 days and long, and was certainly the most difficult thing I had done up to that point in my life. Through environmental, psychological, and social challenges, I believe everyone in the group gained a newfound appreciation for their capabilities, and the true depths of their physical, and mental endurance.

Outward Bound Canada strives to give people the opportunity to place themselves into challenging situations, where they will learn how to overcome difficulties, realize their potential, and gain that experience as a tool for future obstacles, and endeavours. Over the years Outward Bound has come to recognize the people that benefit the most from their programs are those in potentially vulnerable situations, specifically: Women who have experienced violence and/or abuse, military men and women struggling with the challenge of re-integrating into civilian life, and youth at risk, including aboriginal youth."

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

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Kili Team 2016: Brian Johnstone

There are several routes up Kilimanjaro, but our team will be doing the 7-day, 55 km walk up the Machame-Mweka route. This scenic route will take the team through four different ecosystems: rainforest, heath, moorland, and glacier. The route that our team have chosen may be a day longer than the other routes, but the extra night/day aids acclimatization and allows our climbers extra time to recover and prepare for the final push to the top.

Brian Johnstone is one of our climbers who will be headed up the Machame-Mweka route. Brian was born in small-town, Ontario, where he spent most of his free time playing sports and exploring in the near-by forests. A deep enjoyment of the outdoors, lead him to University, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Environmental Science. After university, Brian was lured out west to Banff, Alberta, where he pursued his interest in outdoor sports. Skiing, rock and ice climbing, camping, and nature photography are just a few of the past-times that keep him busy. Recently married in Canmore, Alberta, he resides with his beautiful wife (Lenka), and dog (Sitka). Working as the foreman for the Town of Banff grounds crew, he takes much pride in beautifying the town’s green spaces with trees, shrubs, and flowers for the enjoyment of people from all over the world.

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

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Kili Team 2016: Hartland Pitfield

Wondering what it is like every day up on Kilimanjaro? Here is how one climber explained it: "The days are spent walking through spectacular landscapes which change every day as you pass through different vegetation zones; the pace is never exhausting, as you have to walk slowly in order to give yourself a chance to acclimatize... As night falls, you tuck into the huge plates of food and the stars come out and stun everyone into silence."

Hartland Pitfield will be one individual who gets to experience this scene first-hand, as part of Outward Bound Canada's 2016 Mt. Kilimanjaro Team. Here is what Hartland had to say about his trip: "Since I was eighteen and had the opportunity to do a course in Anakiwa, New Zealand, I have understood the value of Outward Bound. Simply put, the extraordinary physical, mental and emotional challenge that a three-week Outward Bound course entails teaches you an incredible amount about yourself and your ability to work and communicate with those around you. It lays a foundation of values that helps to guide you through the challenges that life can throw at you.

For these reasons, Outward Bound has been one of my most valued life experiences, and I would recommend it to anyone. The issue is: not everyone can afford it, and often the people who would benefit from it the most can afford it the least.

Alongside my dad, two of my sisters, and a team of other Canadians, I am setting out to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro as a fundraiser for Outward Bound's charitable programs. We are aiming to raise $50,000 so that we can provide the life-transforming experience of an Outward Bound course to those who need it the most.

This trip is going to be a challenging, bucket-list trip that will reinforce some of what I have already learned and teach me other things that I haven't. Climbing Kilimanjaro with three of my family members makes it that much more special for me, and with a personal fundraising goal of $4,000, I am hoping to provide similarly impactful experiences and opportunities to those who aren't able to afford them."

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

Monday, December 14, 2015

Kili Team 2016: Holly Wagg

Weather on Kilimanjaro can certainly fluctuate. The climate is influenced by the height of the mountain. As a result, Kilimanjaro has daily upslope and nightly downslope winds, a regimen stronger on the southern than the northern side of the mountain. The average temperature in the summit area is approximately −7 °C (19 °F). Snowfall can also occur any time of year but is associated mostly with northern Tanzania's two rainy seasons (November–December and March–May). Our climbers will likely be glad they are going outside of rainy season!

The next climber we would like to profile is Holly Wagg. Here's what Holly has to say about her trip:

"Kili has been on my bucket list for a long time. Now is the time to tackle it.

I’ve opted to do #kili2016 with Outward Bound Canada because Outward Bound has been so transformative in my own life.

The skills I learned through Outward Bound moved my camping from the trunk of a car to a canoe gliding through the vast backcountry waters of Algonquin. I learned how to solo portage a canoe, rock climb and even how to spend 24 hours on my own in the wilderness with nothing but a tarp, rope and sleeping bag.

But Outward Bound is about more than just the hard skills of outdoor adventure. It’s also about personal exploration and growth. It’s about reflection and self-discovery in the natural world. For me, it came at a crucial time in my life. It truly was a life-changing adventure.

That’s why, I’m climbing Kili with Outward Bound. I may have another life-changing adventure, but more importantly, I want to use this trip to help others have a life-changing wilderness experience of their own."

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

Friday, December 11, 2015

Kili Team 2016: Robert Pitfield

Mount Kilimanjaro is the world’s highest freestanding mountain, rising approximately 4,877 metres from its base to 5,895 metres (19, 340 ft) above sea level. It is also known as "Everyman's Everest" due to the fact that no technical climbing. Now climbing Kili is still no easy feat, but with training, respect for the mountain, and knowledge of altitude it is possible for many to summit this climb.

Robert Pitfield will be one of those few who have chosen to take on such a feat. However, for Robert, one of the things he is possibly looking forward to the most is doing the climb with his kids. As he puts it, "anyone who's lucky enough to have kids in their life on whatever basis knows that it is simply one of the greatest things in life to spend time with them. This trip, with my children, who I have had the wonderful pleasure and special privilege of seeing grow into magnificent people whom I happen to love dearly, will be a singular moment in my lifetime".

As for the reason that Robert has chosen to take on this climb in support of Outward Bound Canada, robert had the following to say: "life should be about paying back for all the blessings so many of us receive. Outward Bound is an exceptional organization that has for many, many decades provided experiences for those, often desperately in need, that are deeply personal, inspirational and caring. Anyone who's ever taken a canoe trip into one of our provincial parks with a bunch of fellow trippers or anyone who's done anything with Outward Bound knows how powerful such a trip, in such natural settings, with such fellowship can be and how enduring its lessons are. This trip is part of that payback."

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

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Getting Ready!

Time to prepare the First Aid Kits for our Kilimanjaro 2016 expedition!
We'll be ready for anything!
Remember to bring your own blister supplies and Ibuprofen and Gravol.
Time flies, In just one short month we'll be in Tanzania!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Kili Team 2016: Kevin Pattrick

There are many local legends about Kilimanjaro. One explains the peak names, Kibo and Mawenzi were good neighbours, until Mawenzi played a prank on Kibo and threw away embers he had received from Kibo and claimed that they had burned out. Kibo eventually got angry and beat Mawenzi badly, explaining why the mountain is so badly degraded. This theory explains Mawenzi's name as "the Battered". Neat!

The next climber we would like to feature is Kevin Pattrick. Born and raised in Bowmanville Ontario, Kevin has always had an affinity for the outdoors and grew up spending a lot of his youth in the wooded areas around the town and the cross country ski trails in the Ganaraska.  After a brief stint in the Humber College Music Program studying as a jazz bassist, Kevin left school to spend six months travelling and camping throughout Europe, Russia, and Scandinavia. Upon his return to Canada he went west and briefly settled in Edmonton where he worked in a variety of jobs while searching for a broader purpose.  Seeking a new adventure, he enrolled in a three week Outward Bound Ski Mountaineering Course being offered in Keremeos, British Columbia. The course was an important and life changing learning experience. Returning to Ontario from Western Canada, Kevin refocused his life and pursued part time education in finance and accounting. Over the next 25 years on a part time basis, he completed a BA, B.Ed., MBA, CMA/CPA, Black Belt Master’s Certificate in Lean Six Sigma, and Executive Development training at Harvard Business School. Kevin’s career has included various management positions in finance and accounting, with past ten years as the Chief Financial Officer for a Global Manufacturing Company based in Toronto. When not working, Kevin’s hobbies include music, cabinet making, running, skiing, travel, and spending time with friends and family.

Kevin says he is doing the trek because of his own Outward Bound Canada experience, "In 1980, I decided to enroll in 21 day Outward Bound Ski Mountaineering course in Keremeos British Columbia. The experience was life changing for me, teaching me goal setting, perseverance, and reflection. As a kid seeking direction in life, the program gave me the kick start I needed to focus and not only set meaningful goals, but also how to harness the determination to see them through. These skills have served me well over the past 36 years and I still often reflect on specific experiences from that adventure and how they shaped who I am today."

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

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Kili Team 2016: Alison Pitfield

On January 10 our 2016 Mount Kilimanjaro Team will be departing Toronto and heading for Tanzania (which will take more than a day of travel) and making preparations for their trek up the mountain for the adventure of a lifetime. 

You'll be able to get updates on the team's progress here on the blog but, in the meantime, we thought we'd introduce you to each of our Kilimanjaro climbers.

First up is Alison Pitfield. Alison is one of four Pitfields on this year's team, including her father, twin brother, and sister. Here's why Alison is doing this climb:

"Outward Bound is a very special organization that enables a broad range of individuals to expand and push themselves out of their comfort zones. I have been incredibly fortunate in my life to be a part of four different OB expeditions around the world and I can honestly say every one of these experiences has shaped me into the person I am today. Outward Bound's mission is to cultivate resilience, leadership, and compassion through inspiring and challenging journeys of self-discovery in the natural world. OB has multiple charitable programs including: Veterans Program, Women of Courage, Aboriginal Programs and Youth at Risk Programs. All the funds I raise through this climb will be donated to these programs, which will help to support individuals who are recovering from trauma or facing a major transition in their lives. By giving someone the opportunity to experience team-work, self-motivation, and show them 'there is more in you than you think'...this is better than any gift possible. Some of the best days of my life were on those Outward Bound expeditions, so please help me in giving someone a 'best day' too!"

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

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

A Warm Welcome to the New Appointments to Outward Bound Canada's Board of Directors for 2015-2016!

Outward Bound Canada (OBC) is pleased to announce a number of new appointments to the organization’s governing Board of Directors for the 2015 to 2016 fiscal year.

Pamela Fralick will lead as Chair of the Board, having previously held the position of Chair of the Governance Committee. As President and CEO of the Canadian Cancer Society, Pamela brings a wealth of leadership experience, along with a passion for healthy living, athleticism and volunteering.

“We are very delighted to see Pamela step into this role as Chair of the Board with Outward Bound Canada,” says Sarah Wiley. “We know already that Pamela brings to the table a strong alignment with and allegiance to the OBC mission, as well as a drive to help others experience the physical, mental and social benefits that come with outdoor activity and adventure, and we can’t wait for her to bring this and more to her role as Chair.”

A total of five new members have joined the Board for a three-year term:

Lori Cammerota; Divisional Vice President - Finance (Cost Accounting), HBC Lord & Taylor;
Hazel de Burgh, Compliance & Risk Mitigation Solutions;
Dan Gormley, Partner, Goodmans LLP;
David Reeve, Founder/President, Distributech Inc.;
Justin Walford, General Manager, Icebreaker Canada.

Outward Bound Canada would also like to thank and acknowledge those individuals who will be stepping down from the Board of Directors: George Fowlie, Bart MacDougall, Jim McGill, Matthew McGrath, and Jan Wilmott. We are extremely grateful for their years of guidance and continued support of Outward Bound Canada’s mission.

The complete Outward Bound Canada Board of Directors for 2015-2016 is:
  • Pamela Fralick - Chair
  • Susan Dallhoff - Past Chair
  • Lori Cammerota - Treasurer, Chair of Finance Committee
  • John Terry - Secretary, Legal
  • Hazel De Burgh - Chair, Risk Management Committee
  • Anne Fitzgerald - Chair, Fundraising Committee
  • Katherine Pollock - Chair, Governance Committee
  • Mark Porter - Chair, Human Resources Committee 
  • Wendy Blain - Human Resources Committee
  • Dan Gormley - Fundraising Committee
  • John Gulak - Risk Management Committee
  • Ella McQuinn - Finance Committee
  • Edyta Pacuk - Human Resources Committee
  • David Reeve - Fundraising Committee 
  • Justin Walford - Finance Committee
  • Sarah Wiley - Executive Director, Outward Bound Canada
Outward Bound Canada Foundation Board Members:
  • Anne Fitzgerald - Chair
  • Susan Dallhoff - Director
  • Lori Cammerota - Director
Learn more about the OBC Board of Directors online at

Discover the impacts of Outward Bound Canada across the the country by viewing our 2015 Impact Report.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Alumni Profile: Adetayo and Nahyan

Adetayo and Nahyan have a lot in common. Both young men are 17-years-old, live in London, England, and are new residents in the UK. Moving to a new country is an incredibly challenging transition for many young people, but these young men are full of drive and resilience. While they did not know each other before the course, through their OBC experience and the support of the Stuart Horne Bursary, these young men came out of their shells and truly connected with their group, facing the challenges of the journey head-on and realizing they were capable of so much more than they ever thought.

We spoke with Adetayo about his OBC experience:

What impact did your Outward Bound Canada experience have on you?

Honestly, it made me really trust the outdoors. I saw it as uncertain and I was quite alien to it, so I never really opened myself up to it until Outward Bound. Back home I stayed indoors more and more, so you can imagine just how far out of my comfort zone I was. It made me more open to everything, and showed me how the outdoors is a surprisingly good distraction from the problems at home. It really allowed me to realize who really cared about me, along with who I really cared about also. It shaped my outlook on a lot of things and taught me to not be so hard on myself. Honestly, I feel like I more or less grew up on that trip, so it's three weeks of my life I will never forget. I'll definitely do some more outdoor activities.

What do you take away from the course and bring back into your life at home?

One of the things I felt really stuck with me throughout the course was the ways in which we [the group] had to deal with conflict. At first, we didn't know each other so well, and then, within 5 days, BAM! We're inseparable. The experiences we had up until practice final only lengthened our honeymoon period so it was quite amicable up until then. After practice final, it really taught me that conflict is inevitable. No matter how well you get on with someone it'll always happen, so no relationship is a smooth road. At the same time, I'm thankful that we all realized this from that moment on because conflict is a natural thing. It's not a bad thing either. So I'll definitely use it to begin to repair some burnt bridges (I had lots of them!).

What would you tell others who are thinking about potentially taking an Outward Bound course?

If you're sure about this, then take the plunge and just do it. If you're unsure about this, then take the plunge and just do it. You'll meet some of most genuine people from across the globe, ready to welcome you with open arms. If you feel restricted at home or want the chance to explore some of the toughest but all the more vibrant settings in the world, I'd encourage you to apply. There are cons as you'll soon find out, but it's overcoming these things that'll make it all the more worthwhile. 

Check out a video Adetayo and Nahyan created of their experience.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Donor Profile: Abigail Whitney

Often times our donors are alumni, having participated in one of our incredible, indelible experiences and leaving forever changed. Abigail is no exception, having started off on her Outward Bound Canada journey as a participant in one of our Women of Courage courses. Abigail now donates monthly to give back, and - while our monthly donor program is still growing - we think her reasons for donating are so inspiring that we had to share.

“I swore, I struggled, I cried but my fellow trippers refused to let me give up or give up on me. I was going to get that canoe from one end of the portage to the other on my own. And I did. Staggering onto that beach at the end, my face a mess of tears and my shoulders aching, I was overwhelmed. Not just by what I had done but how it echoed what I had done on that very day six years earlier. One of our leaders – Phyllis – came up to me as I sat by the water, hugged me and said “Happy Birthday mama.” Indeed. My boy’s birthday and that epic portage were on the same day. 

What had brought me to that moment in my life was because Outward Bound had gifted me with the opportunity to join in a one-week long Women of Courage course. With me would be eight other women all of whom were in various stages of recovery, and three wonderful, giving leaders. 

I made it through the week and it became a touchstone for my personal growth. I am in a loving and equal relationship now and have two awesome teen boys. I am thrilled to be in a position to give back to Outward Bound as a monthly donor. I love that the money I give will enable some other person to embark on their own healing journey, a journey that is guaranteed to move and touch them - and others in their lives - for the better.” 

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Alumni Profile: Dylan

Dylan first came to OBC in grade 9 when his school visited Evergreen Brick Works for a day of teambuilding and climbing on the MacDougall Outward Bound Challenge Tower. This experience sparked something inside of Dylan, and prompted him to continue his OBC adventures by taking part in our Toronto Urban Discovery course soon after. It was this experience that taught Dylan a great deal about where his passions and ambitions lie, helping to reveal a path that made sense for him and his interests in nature and outdoor education. Currently working with OBC as part of his school’s Co-op program, Dylan is continuing to learn more about his own abilities as a leader, a teacher and an individual. We can’t wait to see what he’ll do next!

Read what Dylan has to say about his OBC adventure below:

“My names Dylan Ramkay I started attending Outward Bound Canada (OBC) urban programming when I was 14 starting fresh in a new high school knowing nobody at all in my school. My first experience was having our grade 9 students come down to the Evergreen Brick Works where me and my fellow classmates participated in climbing the MacDougall Outward Bound Challenge Tower. At the starting of the day I knew and trusted no one in my grade but by the end of the day I felt as if I’ve known them for years. Having a complete stranger belay me while I climbing the 60-foot tower was a big trust exercise for a lot of us, I myself was really nervous to climb, but by doing some trust and teamwork initiatives before climbing really opened and took down those walls that me and my classmates had put up. 

I had the amazing opportunity to participate in the Urban Discovery course during the summer of my grade 10 year. This experience really opened my eyes to the world of outdoor educational learning. During that summer we spent our days learning about the nature within our city. Our main topic was lost rivers. I asked the same question you’re probably thinking about right now: what is a lost river? Well they are rivers that have been covered over not allowing for the river to flow in its natural path. We in Toronto have daylighted some of our lost rivers because mother nature worked its magic and starting to take back the route of the rivers even if there was a building in its place. With the group I learned a lot about leadership skills. Throughout the summer our group planned various different hikes and paddles within the city of Toronto.

Something I will always remember from that first course with OBC was the emphasis on teamwork and trusting your peers, which really got me and my fellow classmates out of our bubble and interacting with people who we may have not known at the beginning of the day. I wasn't an open person when I got into high school; I was a very quiet laid back person who did not interact with people a lot, but from that first day of OBC I have come out of my shell and excelled in participating and voicing my opinion inside and outside of school. 

I am now a grade 12 Co-op student working with Outward Bound Canada in the Toronto Urban Programs, teaching students of all different ages about the things OBC has taught me. 

I realized I was not the type to be stuck inside all day working in an office. I wanted to be active and I wanted to teach people about the outdoors, leadership, self-reliance, compassion, craftsmanship, physical fitness, and teamwork – all things I had learned about and from OBC programing throughout my school years. I never thought I'd be in the same position as my instructors were at the beginning of grade 9. I wouldn't think to get up in front of groups some bigger that 40 students and instruct and teach students the wonders of Outward Bound Canada programming, but with the help of the programs and opportunities my school and OBC have given me, I am now hoping for a potential job in the outdoor education world.”

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Donor Profile: Bart MacDougall

Bart MacDougall began his OBC journey in 1993 when he joined the board to help with fundraising. A true believer in the power of the outdoors with a passion for the development and education of our youth, Bart soon became “hooked” on our own brand of adventure, taking part in seven OBC experiences that he says helped take him out of his comfort zone and allowed him to discover more about himself. Bart was honoured as the recipient of our 2014 Kurt Hahn Award, in recognition of exceptional leadership and service. Bart will be stepping down from the board this year and we would like to take this opportunity to thank him for his years of dedication, guidance and friendship. Our endless thanks Bart!

Here's what Bart has to say about why he continues to give back to OBC:

“Have you heard that Outward Bound ‘changes lives’?  That is what drives me to support them.  

While there is a focus on lives that are in a difficult transition, Outward Bound benefits many lives, and it only starts with teenagers.

In the early 1990s I was looking earnestly for a community project to become involved with.  To that point I had been busy on the boards of Bishop’s College School, where I attended, and then Upper Canada College where my two sons attended.  This was followed by a stint at the Art Gallery of Ontario where I was a Trustee and involved in fundraising; however, my thoughts had always been on the development and education of our youth.  Simply put, if a young person develops in an appropriate manner, they are likely to become better citizens in a better world.  

I soon discovered Outward Bound Canada.  My only regret is that I didn't discover it sooner.  It originated during WW2 and started as Outward Bound in the UK in 1941, inspired by Kurt Hahn.  It came to Canada in 1969, but it wasn't until 1993 that I was lured onto the board - by then Chairman, Bob Couchman – in a fundraising capacity to assist with a capital campaign.   

While my interest was primarily their focus on youth, I was to learn that Outward Bound Canada also serves many young adults who find their lives in difficult transition.  Also appealing to me was the use of the wilderness as the classroom, where most people are outside their comfort zone. For me, it was where I wanted to be! But I was to learn that it was NOT these new and different skills such as canoeing, camping, climbing, skiing, and dog sledding that were important.  It was the soft, personal skills that are developed, such as the building of self-esteem, a genuine respect for others, the value of community service, and a serious concern for the environment.  All this wrapped together and you have a variety of programs that are critical to our individual and collective well-being.  

I was to find that it is not until one has the actual experience with Outward Bound that there is a true appreciation for what they do.  In spite of a couple of attempts to have me go on an OBC program, it was not until several years later that I went on my first wilderness trip, and I was hooked.  

On that first program I was with a ‘brigade’ of likeminded adults, taking an interest in what Outward Bound Canada does.  It was a combination of canoeing and climbing and all of us were outside our comfort zones part, or all, of our time in the wilderness.  New hard skills were learned, but it wasn't until we returned to base at the end of five days and "circled up" did we really understand the true benefits of the experience.  Before we were awarded our Outward Bound pins, we were all asked to summarize what we had learned about ourselves and about the others.  To bare our minds and souls to a group of peers who were strangers when we arrived is daunting to be sure.  But now you have had five days together, and silence was not an option! It was truly amazing to hear the variety of benefits and challenges that each participant outlined.  Many displayed extraordinary emotion, and it became very clear that Outward Bound Canada can bring worthwhile change into lives that are already well established and successful.  We were all left to consider what a similar experience could do for a life that is troubled, or in a difficult transition.  

 One program was only a start to my full appreciation of Outward Bound.  I have had six more since the mid-1990s and each one has been a different challenge and a new learning experience.  They have included everything from canoeing, dog sledding, cross country skiing, climbing, sailing, rowing, hiking, and of course camping.  But the real benefit comes in the development of inter-personal skills associated with being with peers outside of ones comfort zone.  The learning curve about yourself can be really steep!

Now to the challenge facing Outward Bound Canada that has been my focus.  There is a never-ending need for funds to support programs for those unable to afford them.  These are our Community Programs that we offer to urban youth; women who have been subjected to violence; Aboriginal youth, and veterans of our country's armed services.  Many in these segments of our society face serious challenges and need our support if they are to have the life-altering experience that Outward Bound Canada can give them.  I intend to continue my support, and I will always encourage others to do the same.  My thanks to all my Outward Bound Canada peers who have been with me during my 22-year journey.  I hope it will continue for many more years."

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Alumni Profile: Aidan Hoffman

Aidan Hoffman was so taken by his first Outward Bound course in the Rockies that he returned to us two years later to take on the West Coast and try his hand at sea kayaking. Aidan’s unforgettable experiences and lasting new friendships have kept him feeling connected to Outward Bound ever since (in fact, Aidan’s mother Jo Hoffman joined us just this past January for our Reach Beyond Mt. Kilimanjaro Expedition), so much so that he felt compelled to join our Vancouver team as an alumni volunteer. 

Here is what Aidan has to say about his OBC adventures:

"When I took my first Outward Bound course, I was fifteen. The course was the Rocky Mountain Discovery.

The details of the course itself took awhile to settle in. I’d been on lots of camping trips, both with my family and with Scouts Canada, but 21 days was far longer than anything I’d done before. The gear list was far more extensive than any I’d seen, but I remember being surprised by the quantities. “Five pairs of socks… for 21 days?” I thought. Of course, I’d be thankful for those restrictions in clothing later. 

After a mess of acquiring new gear, packing it, and repacking it after I found I had too much, I finally got on my way to Calgary. The course started off slowly, and I was the first student there. Over the course of a few hours, other participants streamed in, easily identifiable by their massive bags and lost expressions. Then began the hustle and bustle of preparation, and then the hiking began; 17 days of it. Even as someone who came to the course with plenty of hiking experience, I was surprised by the amount of effort and determination hiking in the mountains takes. I know now there is no greater pleasure than looking back upon a map and seeing a red line marking your past course taken that transverses 100km. 

There are many memories I have of the trip, all of which can be told better by picture than by word. Suffice it to say that we hiked up and down places that could have been in The Sound of Music or the Lord of the Rings trilogy. A moment that comes most clearly to my memory; however, is not one’s typical example of standing upon a mountaintop, but rather that of a passing thunderstorm. Our group had just emerged from the forest into a wide, open valley, from which our destination, a lone mountain, stood in the distance. Following OBC’s strict storm drill, we were too far apart to make extended conversation, and trapped on our packs, we had nothing to do but admire the scenery and the wonder of the lightning strikes for about 90 minutes. The world silent but for the sound of thunder, with our groundsheets over our heads when the sporadic rain started, this was my favourite memory of that trip. 

Apart from the fantastic scenery, something that resonated with me about that first course was the emphasis on teamwork and instilling the core values of OBC into the participants. My particular group had some rough patches early on with collaboration and had some participants that weren’t particularly enthusiastic about being there; however, with the help of the instructors and a lot of time spent in group discussion, our group’s seemingly insurmountable conflicts were successfully resolved as the course neared completion. I was incredibly impressed by the patience of the instructors and other OBC staff for the duration of my trip, and this inspired me to join a conflict resolution training program at my school in the fall. 

When presented with the opportunity to attend another OBC course two years later, after my senior year of high school, I leaped at the opportunity. This course was called the West Coast Youth Leadership course, which is similar to the Northern Ontario Leadership course currently offered but in BC. This was to be another action-packed 21 day course split between sea kayaking and the famous West Coast Trail, and I couldn’t have been more excited. Yet again, the rush to find necessary gear and pack, repack, and repack again began anew, but sooner than I would have thought I was waiting in Vancouver Airport’s south terminal with a group of other participants. By chance of fate and airline choice, I ended up not on the larger plane with my comrades-to-be, but instead on a tiny 6-seater propeller plane along with the pilot and an older lady and her lapdog. Having never flown in a small plane before, the excitement began before I even made it to Vancouver Island. 

My tiny plane landed at a remote airstrip near Tofino after what I can say was certainly the most scenically beautiful flight of my life. A short while after, OBC staff and the rest of the participants arrived, and we began the now somewhat familiar teambuilding and skills training that would prepare us for our experiences ahead. The next day, we ventured out into the green-grey of the Pacific Ocean, tossed white by the wind. 

The kayaking portion of the trip was a spectacular experience. I quickly learned that marine expedition kayaking proved to be an entirely different animal from the day-trips I was used to in kayaking, but it was a welcome change from hiking. Despite long days of paddling in the sun, the increase in menu options and a few luxuries were welcome additions to our experience. Hours of paddling was well worth the time spent relaxing on the beach with a driftwood pillow and the setting sun as a blanket. 

The transition time between the two sections of the course was a welcome break from the salt and sand of the sea, and only helped me to appreciate more the comforts a simple home, like the past OBC house in Tofino could offer. The next day, after cleaning our kayaking gear, we toured the marine sciences centre in Bamfield and camped at the trailhead the following day. Then began a hike that is famous across the world, which begs no description, for none is adequate. 

In the hiking section of this course, I came to know my group members exceptionally well. As often happens when hiking a small trail, chatter, conversation, and even singing is common, and all become amiable. Our group became more self-confident and independent, and in the final days along the trail a strange parody played out where our instructors supervised us from more of a distance, only providing information when absolutely necessary. This comical behaviour actually lead to a great increase in group confidence and planning skill as our group learned to function independently. By the final day on the trail, just 19 days after meeting, eight strangers from different parts of the world were working together in harmonious concert. 

The connections and skills I built on this course I continue with today, and I am proud to say that I have formed a long-term relationship with one of my fellow course participants. OBC was a wonderful place to find like-minded individuals with whom lasting friendships can be made. 
Outward Bound has been a formative experience for me. These two courses have helped me become confident as well as massively improving my teamwork and conflict resolution skills. I truly believe that I use something I learned at OBC every day, and, of course, whenever I’m out on the trail or water."

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Donor Profile: Leslie and Bill

As participants in January’s fundraising expedition to Kilimanjaro, Leslie and Bill were able to experience OBC in a new way, pushing themselves at a turning point in their professional and personal lives, and – through their fundraising efforts – helping to ensure that the Outward Bound experience will be around to benefit as many people as possible for years to come. (Like to do the same? Check out our Reach Beyond fundraising expeditions.)

Hear firsthand what Leslie and Bill have to say about their amazing Kili experience: 

"It was a fateful day last October when we ran into our old friend Sarah Wiley at an open house at the Norval Outdoor School, and she inquired about our plans for the winter. "Would you like to climb Kili with me?”, she said, and within a week we were signed up for the OBC Mount Kilimanjaro Reach Beyond Fundraising Expedition and commencing a flurry of preparations.

If only life could always be so spontaneous! The truth is, Bill and I are teachers on a "4 over 5" deferred leave from our employers (Bill is the Director of the Norval Outdoor School for Upper Canada College, and I am an elementary music teacher for the Halton District School Board) and the timing of Sarah's suggestion was perfect. Having been instructors for Outward Bound (way back when the eastern OB school was nicknamed "Cobwebs") we had observed that adults especially seemed to take OB courses in times of transition in their lives. With 50 birthday candles in recent memory, a looming 25th wedding anniversary, children in university and still recovering from the loss of three of our parents, we were primed to be participants in an Outward Bound experience.

We both enjoyed the physical challenges of both the trip and its preparation. Hiking at high altitude was a new and challenging experience for us, but we always felt safe with our incredibly competent and experienced OB leaders Sarah and Lenka, and Gerald and his team of Tanzanian mountain guides from Chagga Tours. It was extraordinary to hike through vastly different ecosystems from rain forest to alpine tundra in a few days. 

The Kilimanjaro expedition was the trip of a lifetime. It would have been amazing in any event, but it was especially great to be in a group with like-minded people with a common purpose. Everyone in the group came to the trip with a connection to OBC, and brought different strengths to the team, with a caring spirit in common. 

It was also meaningful for us to do an expedition with a fundraising element for an organization that is so close to our hearts. As a past Course Director for Youth-at-Risk programs, Bill knows through first-hand experience the value of OBC's core programs. Our own world view had been shaped by working for the Outward Bound schools in Australia and Canada when we were first married. We truly believe in the transformative value of wilderness experiences in a co-operative environment.
Going to Africa changes ones world view. We feel like we have barely had a peek at the culture there, and hope someday to return to Eastern Africa for more travel and maybe even some volunteering as teachers."

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Enjoying Amsterdam

And then there were three... Trip leaders Sarah and Lenka enjoy a brief stopover in Amsterdam with John Underhill eating Dutch pancakes and walking the canals before final flights to Canada. What an adventure we have all had and thanks to friends and family, almost $90k raised for outward bound programs. Thank You!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Last day

Well, our group has started to disband. Some to the white sands of Zanzibar and others to the wilds of the Serengeti. We have shared a wonderful and challenging outward bound experience. Thank you all for your support and encouragement. Lala Salama!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Summit Reached!!

The team all summited but one, super teammate Jill Wagman, who supported us all from high camp. The team is all well and recovering from a long night and day of climbing and descending. More tomorrow when we are back at the Kilemakyaro Lodge.

Here are some photos from the last couple days (courtesy of climber Ian Tuck's Facebook page):

Day 4 at Karanga Camp, 13 500ft.

Anne and Ian at Kilimanjaro's summit!

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Karanga Valley

Another beautiful day weather-wise. We have had no rain yet.  After a yummy French toast breakfast sitting outside the dining tent enjoying the morning sun, we approached the "Barranco Wall" with some trepidation. However, it was more fun than not and a great break from our usual walking so quite enjoyable in the end. We got to our campsite in the Karanga valley early and had a hit lunch followed by much needed "chill time" as we mentally prepare for our summit challenge starting at midnight tomorrow.

Sorry, not enough reception to post new pictures but you can see previous blog posts for older pictures or check out Ian Tuck's Facebook page fur updates as well.  More to come...Lala Salama!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Barranco Camp

We had a great day today.  Beautiful topography and "other worldy" vegetation.  We did the classic mountaineering "climb high sleep low" practice today.  Reached 15000ft our highest point so far and then descended to 13000ft to sleep.  The group is all in good spirits though some are suffering expected headaches and nausea.  However, we are confident after a good meal and sleep we will all be ready for morning ascent of the barranco wall. Lala Salama (good night).

Friday, January 16, 2015

Pics From the Field

Kili 2015 team member, Ian Tuck, has been snapping some great photos from the field. He send us the link to his Facebook page so we could share these beauties with you too.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Shira Camp

All is well, the group made it to Shira Camp with smiles. We're at elevation now over 12,000 ft and we can feel it but spirits are high. Chagga guides are amazing, the mountain is setting our hearts ablaze. Nick names appear, the summit gets near and away with the wind blows our fears.

Day Two on the Mountain

Everything is awesome! We had a great first day on the mountain. Lots of sunshine and no rain. Lots of signing, laughing and gas! As we say at altitude, "if you are farting well you are faring well".

We are now enjoying a breakfast of champions before heading off on day 2. We will be camping at 12,000 ft tonight. Thinking of you all, hakuna Matata!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Group Photo

We are heading off to the mountain with our Chagga tour guides - Gerald, Benson, Apeles, and Cide. Beautiful day! As we head up the mountain we will try to send updates when we have coverage. Won't be able to send too many photos though. Thinking of you all and will all take care of each other on our adventure. Hakuna Matata!

Sarah and the Kili 2015 crew

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Packing for the Mountain

Looks like the #Kili2015 team is having a blast getting ready for their journey!

Breakfasting in Africa

We all had good sleeps and an awesome breakfast of fresh mango, pancakes, omelettes, coffee and fruit juice under the palm trees on the lawn with Kilimanjaro on the horizon. Heading out now for a practice hike in the coffee plantation.  Loving the warmth and sun and food company!

Kili Team 2015: John Underhill

As you have seen, our 2015 Mt. Kilimanjaro team has arrived and is beginning their journey! Did you know, over 120 languages are spoken in Tanzania. Most of these are Bantu languages, a category of over 535 languages and dialects that are spoken throughout Africa.

Luckily, our team has some great leaders and local guides to help them communicate and navigate throughout their journey. I'm sure our last climber to be profiled, John Underhill, will appreciate the support.  Read more about John and his journey here:

I am a physiotherapist in the Collingwood area and live on a hobby farm in beautiful Creemore Ontario with my wife Sue and children Jake (15) and Abby (13).  I love the outdoors and world travelling.  In 2010 my family and I lived and volunteered in the small mountainside village of Nkoranga, about a 2 hr drive from Kilimanjaro.  It was then that I fell in love with the people and region and vowed to return one day to claim its ultimate prize…Mt Kilimanjaro.  I am very much looking forward to this personal challenge and raising funds for such a worthwhile organization that has had such a positive effect on so many people.

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

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Best Friends Already!

Sharlene and Jill - joining us now from the first class lounge!

At the Airport

And the adventure begins! Here are a few of us at the Toronto airport- john, Leslie, bill, and Shazia. Doing some last minute emails before we fly to Amsterdam. We will send more from there.

Kili Team 2015: Shazia

Our 2015 Mt. Kilimanjaro team is likely getting to Africa right about now.  Did you know that Tanzania is the largest country in East Africa and it includes the spice islands of Zanzibar, Pemba, and Mafia. It should be a beautiful and inspiring location for the team, that is certain!

Well, we have a couple more last team members that we would like to profile still.  The first is Shazia, who has done an incredible job of fundraising and training.  Here is a little on her and her journey:

Outward Bound is a not for profit organization that supports some of the causes that are very close to my heart. It provides life-changing experiences to women recovering from abuse and violence, youth at risk including new youth to Canada, veterans and aboriginals. Having myself immigrated to Canada with young children, I can appreciate the importance of providing support to new Canadian youth transitioning between cultures and enabling them to adjust in their new environment by helping them realize their true potential. The youth at risk program is designed for young people who are experiencing difficulties at school, at home or in their environment. OBC works with ‘at risk’ young people helping them turn away from risky and self-destructive behaviors.

Outward Bound Canada’s Women of Courage Program offers inspiring journeys of adventure, challenge and healing for women recovering from trauma due to violence and/or abuse including sexual, physical or emotional abuse. Since 1988, over a 1000 women have experienced these transformative journeys resulting in powerful growth and recovery.

I took on this challenge despite having no prior climbing experience and with very little time to prepare; yet I am determined to achieve this goal. It has always been a dream for me to undertake such a challenge and I am thrilled that I am able to participate in this expedition and at the same time help a cause that I hold dear to my heart.  In order to raise funds for this charity I am requesting all of you for a donation to OBC. Your donation could help some women find their way to recovery or make a difference in a youth’s life by providing a life changing experience.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Getting Ready for the Mountain!

Well, we are down to the final countdown. Only 3 more sleeps. Getting all the group and my personal gear ready and treats for the group on the mountain. Here is a picture of my dining room table...

Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone on the Bell network.

Kili Team 2015: Sarah Wiley (Trip Leader)

Did you know: About 30,000 people climb Kilimanjaro each year and about three-quarters of those reach the summit. It is a relatively safe climb, and most climbers who fail to summit experience altitude-related issues or harsh weather near the peak. The climb can be done any time of year but the rainy winter season make the summer and early fall a popular time to climb.

Ensuring that each of our climbers reach the summit is our second trip leader, Outward Bound Canada's Executive Director Sarah Wiley.  Read about Sarah's journey here:

"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 (I love learning). I have travelled extensively and have climbed mountains in South America, North America, & Africa. I have led five climbs up Mt. Kilimanjaro with all but one of the participants successfully summiting. 

My husband and I have a six year old son, Hugh, and a five 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."

Good luck Sarah, we will be rooting for you and the team!

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Kili Team 2015: Lenka Stafl (Trip Guide)

Did you know: There are three volcanic cones that make up Kilimanjaro: Kibo is the summit; Mawenzi at 16,893 feet (5,149 meters); and Shira at 13,000 feet (3,962 meters). Uhuru Peak is the highest summit on Kibo's crater rim. Uhuru, Swahili for "Freedom," was named in 1961 when Tanganyika gained its independence . Tanganyika later joined with the islands of Zanzibar to form Tanzania.

The first of our trip leaders to be profiled, Lenka Stafl, will be helping the team het to the highest of the peaks - Kibo.  Read more about Lenka's journey here:

"I fell in love with the mountains as a youth and haven’t stopped adventuring since. It is so satisfying for me to share the unique beauty of mountain landscapes with others and participate in the deeply personal journey’s that happen therein. In 2009, I began working as a mountain instructor for Outward Bound based out of Leadville in Colorado. I knew after Instructing my first course how powerful and important the work we can be. My passion for the work, people and places that make Outward Bound so unique continues to drive me. I am a member of the Association of Canadian Mountain Guides, and have taken numerous Wilderness Medicine and technical courses to hone my skills in alpine terrain. I have been fortunate enough to travel and work in amazing mountain ranges and regions of the world including Patagonia, the Tibetan Plateau, the Cascades and beyond. Before moving to Canmore, I worked on Rainier, guiding clients up the peak on a weekly basis. 

For the past few years I have worked at the Rocky Mountain region of Outward Bound Canada, supporting, guiding and managing our courses. I make an effort to instruct a few programs a year to stay in touch with the meaning and impact of our organizational mission."

We are sure it will be a challenging but life-changing experience thank to Lenka and Sarah and the team!