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Colorado Outward Bound School

COBS is dedicated to creating a more resilient and compassionate world with more resilient and compassionate citizens. We need your help to serve more students and inspire young people to lead, discover the depth of their character and the perseverance of their spirit, and serve their communities.

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Youth and Adult Leadership and Character Development

Class

Education 

Beneficiaries

Adults
Ethnic/Racial Minorities - General
Poor/Economically Disadvantaged
Adolescents/Youth (13-19 years)
At-Risk Populations

Description

COBS partners with individual students, and schools and colleges, to offer powerful outdoor experiences and to help young people move beyond the classroom to spaces where they can gain valuable knowledge about themselves and their relationships to their larger community. They then apply these skills to their lives beyond the leadership expedition. Our extensive portfolio of courses is designed to provide transformative experiential learning programs that meet the specific needs of students, including three-and four-week backpacking, mountaineering, river-running and canyoneering courses. COBS also offers semester courses both for students from across the US. All courses provide unmatched opportunities for leadership development and character growth.

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Evidence of Program's Success

COBS participants have consistently indicated positive outcomes in the post-course evaluation. In 2016, nearly 100% of our students recorded growth in the traits of teamwork, community, tenacity, self-confidence, self-awareness, problem solving, empowerment, and service action among other areas. Nearly 100% of our students would recommend their Colorado Outward Bound School experience to a friend. Most remark that it was difficult, but worth the effort. They learn that they are capable of far more than they ever thought.

"I tell people that living on course for two months got me excited, again. And that's true: in the months leading up to having the opportunity to wander in the wilderness for fifty days, I was making some pretty big life decisions… about which I felt just sort of "meh" - I was choosing post-AmeriCorps work, where to live, if I was going to return to school and what I might study. My time on course was a giant pause button: I was able to step away from expectations, and extend to myself the grace and time to live simply and build relationships with my group members and leaders. I did some serious re-thinking of my values and goals, and found that when I came home, it was as if my engine had been revved. No longer was my future full of "Shoulds" and "Oughts"; rather, it was an endless string of Opportunities and Pinch Me This is Exciting!" Elisabeth, alumni

ASCEND

Class

Youth Development 

Beneficiaries

Ethnic/Racial Minorities - General
Female Youth/Adolescents (14 - 19 years)
Male Youth/Adolescents (14 - 19 years)
Poor/Economically Disadvantaged
Youth/Adolescents only (14 - 19 years)

Description

ASCEND inspires character development, leadership, and a service ethic in high need, high potential students by immersing them in challenging wilderness courses unique to COBS in high school. COBS provides highly structured, rigorous wilderness leadership programs to instill personal responsibility and accountability, as well as increase confidence, integrity, determination and compassion amongst its graduates. Courses range from three to 24 days. COBS expects to move the needle by empowering youth to gain faith in themselves; in the process they will become better citizens and scholars with the leadership skills to make them producers of their own lives and contributors within their communities.

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Evidence of Program's Success

"Without expeditions like this, young (people) like me would never know the true value of qualities such as friendship and leadership. The world could be completely revolutionized if more people had experiences like this." - Uriel , age 17

COBS Scholarships

Class

Public, Society Benefit 

Beneficiaries

Poor/Economically Disadvantaged
Young Adults (20-25 years)
Adolescents/Youth (13-19 years)
At-Risk Populations
Ethnic/Racial Minorities

Description

Scholarships are a key part of the COBS mission and follow a single principle: that every person should be given the opportunity to experience adventure and challenge, develop character and compassion, and learn social and environmental responsibility, regardless of financial ability. Full scholarships are given to students in the ASCEND and Veterans programs. Need-based scholarships, via the COBS Student Opportunity Fund, are available on all open enrollment courses for students based on their financial need, motivation, and the potential to excel on a leadership course. The average Student Opportunity Fund award covers 25% of tuition and does not exceed 50% of tuition.

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Evidence of Program's Success

COBS has a long history of scholarship students who take the Outward Bound experience to its pinnacle, forever changed by the experience.

"After spending twenty-four days in the wilderness, I learned I can truly do anything I put my mind to. Most of the physical and mental challenges I face now seem minuscule to what I've accomplished on my journey in Moab. " - Maxwell, age 18, 2016 alumni and scholarship student


"My most memorable peak attempt came about midway through my twenty two day course, when my fellow climbers and I began our ascent at 11:30 pm. We climbed through the night under the watchful eyes of thousands of stars until we summitted in the early morning tendrils of sun. The array of snow-streaked mountains layered endlessly and I still continue to marvel at the greatness of such a creation. I cannot say that I am unchanged, having faced the physical and mental challenges that these mountains have presented me. They have stripped bare the goals and ambitions that I hold most dear for myself. In these days, I have realized who I am and what I stand for. This has been an incredible opportunity to explore myself in ways I never would have thought possible. After completing Outward Bound, there is no limit to what I can do" Emily, age 18, 2014 alumni and scholarship student

COBS Custom program

Class

Community Development 

Beneficiaries

Adults
Young Adults (20-25 years)
Adolescents/Youth (13-19 years)

Description

COBS provides custom courses to both nonprofit and for-profit and organizations designed for leadership development, team-building and communication, and problem-solving experiences that are transferable from the outdoors to the office environment. Courses range from one-day ropes course experiences to week-long mountaineering or river-running expeditions. Some of COBS' most experienced instructors, many with over 20 years as educators and facilitators, lead our professional courses and are the backbone to what makes this program so strong.

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Evidence of Program's Success

"For nearly 20 years, Outward Bound Professional has been a core component of the El Pomar Fellowship program's leadership development curriculum. A highly competitive two-year program designed for recent college graduates, the Fellowship explicitly seeks to develop the leadership and professional skills of the next generation of leaders. The annual Outward Bound course serves as the capstone of an intensive three-week orientation and team building process focused on integrating new Fellows to the El Pomar team. Spending a week in the backcountry together expedites the team building process, as the concepts of goal setting, creating a shared vision, encouragement, conflict management, communication, trust, and vulnerability are all introduced and addressed in a safe environment. It is an incredibly rewarding experience that never fails to provide valuable personal insights and growth, while strengthening the rapport among co-workers.

Instrumental to our long standing relationship with COBS is the collaborative approach the staff takes in designing and implementing each year's course. As a client, I appreciate how the staff bring numerous options to the table and are able to relate each to our overall objective. In the field, the staff's focus on flexibility and safety ensures that we optimize the experience based on the skill and comfort level of Fellows."
Gary Butterworth
Senior Vice President
El Pomar Foundation
17-time Outward Bounder

"After experiencing COBS with my Leadership Denver class, I knew I would be back soon with my work crew. I wanted my team to have the same opportunity to cooperatively work together in a new dynamic setting, with each team member facing challenges outside their normal comfort zone.

The COBS staff customized the program to our needs and skill levels, and our day at the beautiful Leadville campus was incredible. The experience was transformative, creating cross-departmental bonds and connections that positively impact our daily business operations.

Perhaps most importantly, COBS provided an opportunity for the company to invest in "growing" each team member; adding value by creating loyalty, team cohesion and staff retention."

Remy Spreeuw
Publisher
5280 Magazine

Outward Bound for Veterans

Class

Public, Society Benefit 

Beneficiaries

Adults
Mentally/Emotionally Disabled
Military/Veterans
Physically Disabled
Veterans

Description

COBS helps hundreds of returning service members and recent veterans readjust to life at home through powerful wilderness courses that draw on the healing benefit of teamwork and challenge through the use of the natural world. Courses for veterans are primarily backpacking, rafting or ice climbing expeditions. Physically, mentally and emotionally challenging, these courses build the self-confidence, pride, trust and communication skills necessary for veterans to successfully return to their families, employers and communities following their military service.

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Evidence of Program's Success

"Since our return home we have all been forced to reinvent who we are and how we will fit back into the world we left behind. This trip has given me confidence, hope, and a sense of peace that I thought haven't had since before my deployment to Afghanistan."

Brandon, Veterans Utah Rafting alumnus

"This course has challenged me physically and emotionally and I am better for it.

Overcoming physical challenges such as ice climbing or summitting a mountain forced me to rely on my teammates - much like my experience in the Army. I could not have done this without them. I was also able to revisit old wounds and help them heal when we remembered our fallen brothers at the peak of the mountain. I felt proud to dedicate my climb to a good friend of mine who was killed when we were in Iraq.

Overcoming these challenges has reenergized me and reignited the kind of motivation I once had when I was in the Army. Thanks to this experience, I feel well prepared to return home and overcome the daily challenges of every day life"

Jeff, Veteran alumnus

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