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Introduction to this Special Edition

At North Carolina Outward Bound School, we take pride in knowing that we offer life-changing experiences for everyone. Whether you are a high-achieving youth or a challenge-seeking adult, an educator, a military veteran, a member of a school group or an employee, we have a course for you.

In this special edition of Trail Tales, we pay tribute to our two programs specifically designed for teens and young adults whose lives have somehow gone off-course: FINS (Families in Need of Services) and Outward Bound for Struggling Teens and Young Adults. As you’ll read in the stories that follow, these programs harness the power of the Outward Bound experience to support young people and their families in their efforts to get their lives back on track.

Although these programs only represent a fraction of the work we do to change lives through challenge and discovery, we are proud to have them among the diverse programs we offer. This pie chart from the 2014 Program Report illustrates the diversity of our programs. For a full description of what we offer, I invite you to visit our website: www.ncobs.org.

Until Our Paths Cross Again,  

Whitney H. Montgomery, Executive Director

NCOBS Receives Grant from eBay Foundation

Apen and her one of her instructors

The eBay Foundation recently awarded a $5,000 grant to NCOBS in support of the Florida FINS program. The grant came by way of a nomination from Lisa Cornflower, an eBay Enterprises employee and parent of a recent FINS program graduate. Lisa was so grateful for the impact the program had on her whole family that she asked her company’s foundation to consider a grant to purchase the gear needed to continue running safe, effective programs.

In April, Lisa and her daughter Aspen, who completed a 20-day FINS wilderness expedition, returned to the Scottsmoor base camp to present the check on behalf of the foundation. “It was really inspiring to hear them both talk about the impact that the program has had on them, and to see Aspen’s excitement as she reconnected with her instructors,” said Katie Dalbey, Director of At-Risk Programs. (Listen)

During the presentation, Aspen was asked what she learned on course. She replied, “A lot of helpful tools, but mostly to think before I do something and to express myself better.”

The eBay Foundation award is the latest in a series of grants from groups that have recently renewed their support of these life-changing experiences for students like Aspen. Other private FINS funders include the Ocean Reef Foundation and the Keys Children’s Foundation.

Parents of FINS Graduate Establish Memorial Fund

NCOBS is pleased to announce the establishment of the Jacob Peach Memorial Fund in support of the Florida FINS Program.

FINS Program parents Stacey and Bill Peach created the fund in late 2014 in honor of their late son Jacob, who graduated from the program in 2013. Contributions to the fund support the purchase of much-needed supplies and equipment for the Scottsmoor base camp.

After the tragic loss of Jacob in 2014, Stacey and Bill were inspired to give back to the program that had such a profound impact on their whole family. In addition to establishing the fund, Stacey has been leading an advocacy campaign aimed at securing additional funding for the FINS program from the Florida legislature.

“It is our hope that others will share our desire to help struggling teens realize that, in completing the FINS course, they did much more than simply survive a few weeks in the wilderness; they became part of something bigger and better," said Stacey.

"Struggling young people need to know that they are not alone," she continued. "They have friends who have survived the same struggles. There are people they can trust to discuss their problems. Most importantly, there are people who want to help them succeed at life.” 

Click here to donate to FINS in Jacob's memory.

Staff Highlight: Anne Hersman

Anne Hersman began working with Outward Bound in 2013 as an intern for our FINS and Struggling Teens/ Young Adults Programs. Previously she had been substitute teaching after receiving her teaching certificate. It was during this time that she realized her students had issues in their lives that were more pressing than math. Her desire to help young people define and achieve success in their lives drew her to working with Outward Bound.

1. Why do you enjoy working with this student population?

I enjoy working with this group because the students are very real, they have vibrant personalities, and are willing to try new things. The best part about these particular programs is that we don’t only focus on leadership and changing lives though challenge and adventure, we also get to talk to these students about real life problems they are facing, create plans for change on course and at home, and then follow up with those plans.

2. What kind of qualifications do you need to work with struggling youth?

The most important qualification is a passion for working with students who have struggles in their lives. After that, instructors need to have completed an At-Risk Internship, multiple trainings, and consistent mentorships. Communication, anger management, problem-solving, goal-setting, and eliciting change are common topics instructors are able to facilitate and discuss as well. 

Read the rest of this interview to hear what Anne has to say about challenges faced by students returning home from course and her fondest memory of working with a student.