Facebook icon Twitter icon Forward icon

NCOBS Beyond the Woods

When thinking about NCOBS, many people envision groups camping in the North Carolina mountains. But if you take a closer look, it’s evident that the story goes far beyond the forest--and the Charlotte Unity Project is a perfect example. This October, friends of NCOBS gathered for an event in Charlotte to support a program that has taken more than 600 teens into the wilderness and empowered them to affect real change in their communities afterward.

The Charlotte Unity Project is, “a visceral, emotional and physical journey with 14 complete strangers in the wilderness that challenges you, pushes your limits, hurts you, strengthens you, makes you laugh, makes you cry, forges a deep bond of trust, understanding, and love between you and your crewmates, and enlightens you about life in a way that causes you to reevaluate everything,” said Myers Park High School senior Ethan Tobin. “It was one of the most freeing, startlingly real experiences I’ve ever had.”

Tobin joined students from four Charlotte public schools this June for a six-night wilderness courses, incorporating activities designed to explore social issues and teach compassion. Student crews are intentionally diverse, with crew members chosen to represent the diversity of their schools.  Unity instructors then create a safe environment that fosters open and honest dialogue that helps students transcend social barriers. (Read more)

No Matter Where We Go, There You Are

-The Admissions Team-

We are always on the go, telling the story of Outward Bound. But, it never ceases to amaze us that given the opportunity, we are not the only ones sharing this story. From a crowded airport terminal to the packed high school gym at a college fair, we’ve heard that proud voice over the rumbling noise, “I went on an Outward Bound course!”

You’ve heard it, you’ve said it, and you’ve lived it - an Outward Bound course lasts a lifetime.

One of our most recent ‘I’m an alum’ memories was of a man hovering near the NCOBS recruitment table at a college fair we were attending. In front of our table eager participants and families were asking the usual questions, “What is Outward Bound?” “How long is a course?” “What does it cost?” “Would it help my son get into college?” It was obvious the man wanted to jump into the conversations we were having.

As we went on to explain the Outward Bound story, we noticed the man getting closer and closer to the table--he would soon be standing on it. Our answers were not going to be enough for him--he had something to say. When the opportunity finally presented itself, the man quickly jumped into the conversation (and not onto the table) saying, “I went on course in 1981.”

As his story unfolded, he soon had the attention of many. (Read more)

Staff Highlight: Lark Gardner

If you have taken a course with us, then you may have had the opportunity to visit one of our historic base camp communities. At NCOBS we have seven base camps total; two in the NC mountains, one mobile base in the Outer Banks of NC, three in Florida and a mobile site in Patagonia, South America.

These bases are open seasonally and host many of our field staff members as they come and go for courses. While many of us spend time at bases, few of us know what it takes to keep them running smoothly. However, for some individuals, it's their job to keep things up and running. Each base requires a few key players, one of which is the Program Director.

Lark Gardner has been with NCOBS for eight years as an instructor. She has worked in diverse program environments, with many different course lengths and program offerings. Most recently she took on the role of Program Director at Cedar Rock.

What drew you to working with Outward Bound?

It’s a funny story how started with Outward Bound. I was working as an instructor at a therapeutic weight loss camp in Wanyseville, NC. At the end of the season, my supervisor, who was a former NCOBS instructor, offered me a position in management. I told him I wasn't ready to be in an office yet and that I was looking for a place with magic and tradition. That’s when he suggested I apply with NCOBS.

However, when I was 18, I was also a student on a 12-day NCOBS course. I had the experience that many of our students have, the ‘type two’ kind of fun. I had hated my Outward Bound course so I told my supervisor I'd rather not. He was a persistent mentor and with time convinced me to apply. At the end of new staff training I was hook, line, and sinker, having found plenty of magic, tradition, and so much more with NCOBS. (Read more)

A Note From the Executive Director

Dear NCOBS Friends and Family,

NCOBS completed another successful mountain season and now both the Table Rock and Cedar Rock basecamps are buttoned up for the winter. While it’s sad to see these bases close for the season, it is rewarding to know that hundreds of students hiked, climbed and paddled the western NC mountains since last March. Our program staff will now head south to the Everglades and Patagonia basecamps to help more students discover their potential.

After serving NCOBS for 47 years, our founder, Marjorie Bryan Buckley, was honored on October 10th for her lifetime of service to NCOBS. In her early twenties, Marjorie showed great tenacity and perseverance by undertaking the grand vision of starting the North Carolina Outward Bound School. She then became a very active and engaged member of the Board of Directors, a role she carried until recently. By a unanimous vote of the Board of Directors, Marjorie was declared a Lifetime Director, an honor bestowed on only three other individuals in the School’s history.  Thanks to Marjorie, each of us has been impacted by the power of Outward Bound!

Until our paths cross, take care.

Whitney H. Montgomery