It’s the hidden gem of Outward Bound courses the world over. From building classrooms in Costa Rica to planting community gardens in California, service projects are the cornerstone of the global Outward Bound experience.
Taking the service ethic home
Here’s how our alumni have begun to transform their own communities following their OB experience:
“I help out at the ‘Meals on Wheels’ programme which helps deliver meals to the elderly.”
“I have volunteered to help DOC with maintaining and preserving the islands in the Hauraki Gulf.”
“I became a volunteer firefighter.”
“I gave blood for the first time, something I promised myself I would do while at OB.”
“I give a few hours a week to coaching kids to rock climb.”
“I’ve taken part in local beach clean-ups, which I would never have done before.”
Our very own projects have included the preservation of a 1,000 year old rimu tree and the protection of native flora and fauna on local Blumine Island.
One such initiative that sits right on our Anakiwa doorstep is the creation of the Link Pathway. As part of a ten year venture, a group of locals have come together to create a 50km pathway from Havelock to Picton.
At least one Outward Bound Watch of 14 works on the pathway every month, totalling almost 28,500 hours of volunteer support from OB to date.
“For a decade local communities dotted between the two towns (such as Anakiwa, Ngakuta and Linkwater) have been isolated, only accessible by car,” says project leader Rick Edmonds. “The efforts of OB students will link people and places, creating physical and social connections.”
The benefits of service projects not only flow to whole communities but also have a profound effect at a personal level. For many students, service projects offer an opportunity to immerse themselves in an incredible natural space. It’s a chance to connect with a place, and take time out to reflect upon their experiences so far.
What’s more, the very notion of service is for many alumni a catalyst for understanding their personal values. They uncover the importance of putting others ahead of themselves, subsequently giving more of their time and energy to volunteering at home.
In fact, our recent alumni survey revealed that almost one in three took up a volunteering assignment because of their OB experience. It’s safe to say that the OB service ethic has cultivated a generation of volunteer sports coaches, charity helpers, mentors and environmental champions.
It’s also a culmination of the course’s environmental learning. For many, a service day is the moment when they commit to making a positive environmental impact in everyday life. For some this has meant leading environmental committees at school or in the workplace. For another recent alumnus, his service day lead to a change of career because of the spark ignited for sustainability.
With our mission to create ‘better people, better communities and a better world’, our service projects continue to be perfectly placed to make a valuable contribution to all three.