Outward Bound Service Expeditions

Suretka School

University of Alabama with the Suretka School Students, 2013

Service Focused Outward Bound Courses

For five years in a row, the University of Alabama has sent groups of motivated students and student leaders on course with Outward Bound Costa Rica through the University of Alabama’s Study Abroad Office and the service-learning focused organization, Alabama Action Abroad. Each summer, students engage in a service-focused Outward Bound expedition that takes them to the Talamanca region on the Caribbean coast.

Alabama was able to accomplish the following service work thanks to our friend at the Peace Corps, Kevin Werner.

  • Celebrated local culture by eating local food, interacting with the indigenous communities and shared activities including a soccer game with the high school students and a lesson in the Bri Bri language
  • Engaged in team building activities and service learning reflections following the Outward Bound experiential learning methodology: experience a challenge, reflect and draw conclusions, apply newfound knowledge, self confidence and self awareness to the next day’s challenge
  • Built a tree nursery for the community
  • Replaced tubing for the local aqueduct that provides clean water to over 1,000 community members
  • Helped build a classroom to be used for teaching Bribri, the native indigenous language of the region
  • Installed a tetherball and volleyball net for the local schools
  • Learned to fry plantain chips at the Tsalak Kutu Plaintain Chip Cooperative, a local women-run cooperative
  • Helped build a ranch that will support rural tourism in the Sibodi community
  • Traveled like the locals…by boat
  • Painted the elementary school classroom in the Katsi community
  • Hiked to remote, outer communities
  • Swam in water holes along the river banks
  • Frolicked at the illustriously beautiful Cahuita beach
  • Ziplined through the Costa Rican Rainforest canopy
  • Toured San Jose’s famous Central Market and Artisan Market

How did Alabama accomplish so much in such a short period of time?

The University of Alabama prepares ahead of arrival to engage in service as its primary Outward
Bound expedition. This year’s student leaders, Kellen Schroeter, Lindsey Herin and Kimberly Triplett, participated in the Outward Bound Costa Rica service expedition last year. Their expertise and knowledge of the Outward Bound philosophy no doubt contributed to the group’s positive impact in Suretka. Trip chaperone, Shirin Posner, is a long time supporter of Outward Bound Costa Rica, having led a high school group on an Outward Bound Costa Rica course over 15 years before.


Join the Ranks! 

This year, the University of Nebraska joined the ranks of Universities that choose to do service expeditions with Outward Bound. Their unique course was added to the end of a Spanish immersion program through the University of Nebraska’s study abroad department. Thanks to our Peace Corps friend, Esteli Pacio, the University of Nebraska group was also able to accomplish a lot both in service and reflection. Check out our latest Outward Bound video for footage and testimonials from this accomplished group of students: A Day in the Life of a Service Focused Custom Course.


Building Compassion through a Service Expedition  

Riddle: If service is your course challenge, what is your expedition’s objective? Building Compassion. 

“The aim of education is to impel people into value-forming experiences, to ensure the survival of these qualities: an enterprising curiosity, an indefatigable spirit, tenacity in pursuit, readiness for sensible self-denial, and above all, compassion.”

-Kurt Hahn, Outward Bound Founder

How do groups and individuals build compassion through service? Experiential learning is the process of learning through guided experiences, as outlined in Experiential Learning 101: What is it Really?  Students are guided through an experience, in this case, a service project. Next, they are guided by experienced instructors through a continuous reflection process. Through a solo, or time alone in the wilderness, students are encouraged to draw unique conclusions about themselves and how they engage with the world around them. Finally, in the next day’s challenge, students are asked to apply any new self-knowledge in order to break their self-imposed molds and rise above their limits. Service project expeditions offer students an opportunity to challenge themselves socially; Students learn about new cultures and challenge existing paradigms in order to transcend personal social limitations.

Interested in joining the ranks of schools and students experiencing Outward Bound Service Expeditions in Costa Rica? Contact our Custom Course and Partnerships Manager to get started: Custom@OutwardBoundCR.org