Dealing with the unknown and problem solving is a key pillar of all the educational programmes, explains Carston Jost, another programme manager based in Baad. ‘It's only by facing the unknown, something unfamiliar to them, that the participants can really grow in the long run,’ he continues.
2020 is the year of unknowns. Just when students needed the Outward Bound’s programmes the most they were unable to access them because of Covid restrictions. And for Outward Bound, its raison d'être – to get youths outside – was removed.
‘Like many other industries, coronavirus has hit us very, very hard,’ says Carston. ‘The vast majority of our customers here in Germany are schools and because of coronavirus restrictions they're simply no longer able to come to us. Because of this, we’re dealing with a huge drop in revenue. It doesn't just affect our permanent employees here on site; it has an even bigger impact on the freelance trainers we work with, because we simply don't have any work for them right now.’
Before Covid groups of young people, mostly from schools, would take part in educational programmes that Stephan Grabner, another Baad programme manager, calls ‘expeditionary learning’. Whether just for a day or over the course of a few days, participants learn through doing in the great outdoors. But it’s not just a case of teenagers discovering how to set up camp, climb a rock face or kayak in a river. They have to take responsibility of their own actions and work together as a group.
‘Although at the beginning it's the trainer who takes responsibility for the whole group, this responsibility is increasingly passed onto the group itself,’ Stephan explains. ‘At the end of the programme we're in a scenario where the participants are autonomous and they're in the mountains, leading the group. And, of course, they're on unfamiliar ground for the duration, trying their hand at something new, growing in the process.’