Outward Bound expedition spurs teachers to bring outdoor experience into classroom

Published 6:47 pm Wednesday, July 11, 2018

When eight teachers from across Troup County School System trekked into the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina to participate as members of Outward Bound, they had no idea how their backpacking experience would impact their physical strength, emotional fortitude or classroom teachings.

This past spring, before they stepped foot on a mountaintop, an anonymous donor contacted TCSS and asked about potential teachers who could be a part of Outward Bound. The donor also surprised each teacher with funding for the outdoor learning experience. The participants were:

4Aaron Woody – Gardner Newman Middle School

4Broderick Stargell – Callaway Middle School

4Christina Cooper – HOPE Academy

4Hailey Dabbs – Gardner Newman Middle School

4Hasina Muhammad – Long Cane Middle School

4Jason Graham – Troup High School

4Solomon Whitfield – LaGrange High School

4Stacie Bulloch – Gardner Newman Middle School

These adventurous instructors left their cell phones and laptops at the door as they prepared for the adventures of hiking, rock climbing, backpacking and learning and trusting their surrounding teammates to meet daily goals. In addition to scaling the Blue Ridge Mountains, they built upon their confidence and leadership skills while working together to survive the rugged mountainous terrain, all while carrying 50-pound backpacks through their journey.   

For 50 years, Outward Bound has used its outdoor expeditionary education program for youth and adults to provide learning through outdoor experience, challenge and adventure.

The four foundational pillars of the organization are the following:

4Physical Fitness – building the physical and emotional stamina to meet challenges.

4Craftsmanship – modeling quality and intention in one’s actions.

4Self-Reliance – being resourceful, recognizing and applying personal strengths.

4Compassion – selflessly engaging in the welfare and dignity of others.

The eight attendees said these pillars, and more, were exercised throughout the four-day mountain stay. Educators commented they enjoyed taking advice from their instructors, learning lessons from their peers and how they can use their learnings to help students through situations that impact their everyday lives.

“I will be able to take back what my instructors taught me and use it in my classroom to show my students interesting ways to reflect upon their learning and how they can communicate,” one survey result comment said.

“I am a big advocate for my students to learn soft skills and actively use them to make their lives and other’s lives successful. I have learned how to include team building activities and empathy for my students and also my work family. I will also work with my student in my drone classes to create and read maps,” another attendant said through survey results.

Next year the teachers who participated will help select a group of rising ninth grade students from each high school to attend the young adults Outward Bound educational and wilderness program.

“We are thankful for the generous donation that allowed our teachers to take part in this experience. Next year, the same donor has already agreed to privately fund a student group,” Karen Cagle, Assistant Superintendent, said. “We look forward to seeing how participating in this project will unfold in classroom instruction, and we eagerly anticipate expanding the project to our students.”