Photo © Courtesy of Outward Bound
Many teenagers today are more stressed and overwhelmed than ever before. In response to this ongoing crisis, Outward Bound Canada partnered with The Maddie Project in 2019 to launch the Connecting with Courage program. The innovative program is designed for youth ages 14-16 and combines traditional outdoor activities such as hiking or paddling with exercises that focus on self-expression and mental health awareness, all led by instructors who serve as powerful and confident
The Maddie Project was created in memory of Maddie Grace German Coulter, a third-generation Outward Bound participant. When she died suddenly at just 14, her family channelled their grief into The Maddie Project
(themaddieproject.ca). Founded in 2015 and driven by community collaboration and events, The Maddie Project exists to spark conversations about youth mental health and help provide uninhibited access to support for youth and their families.
The past year and a half of the pandemic has only added to the stress that teens face. They have had to endure prolonged isolation, repeated school closures, hours of screen time, and increased anxieties and fears about the virus, all of which have dramatically impacted both their physical and mental health. That’s why Outward Bound’s programs remain so critical, as they offer inspiring adventures in nature that develop confidence, leadership, resilience, and social connectedness, helping young people gain the skills and experience they need to thrive in an unpredictable and changing world.
This summer, a brigade of young people participated in the 2021 Connecting with Courage course, spending a week backpacking in Strathcona Park on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. They returned with their hearts and minds filled with adventure, friendship, and a belief in themselves and others.
“I want to send my deepest thanks for giving our son the gift of a week at the Outward Bound Connecting with Courage program. I cannot express enough how much it meant to see our son experience something so truly life-changing. He has struggled from an early age with anxiety and OCD, which lead to depression. These past months have been extra hard on him since the pandemic has left him very isolated and insular. We really worried about sending him off to Outward Bound. How would he do? Would he make friends? Would he be miserable? All of our fears were forgotten when we picked him up after a week of camping and hiking. He emerged a happy, healthy, optimistic teenager who could finally see the possibility of an amazing and fulfilling life laid out for him. Thank you, thank you with all of my heart for making this happen.”
—Parent of Connecting with Courage Participant
Outward Bound Canada is committed to helping Canadian youth change the trajectory of their lives. With young people desiring to thrive in an unpredictable and changing world, OBC, a registered charity, offers social-emotional education through experiential adventures in the outdoors. Since 1969, OBC has inspired over 150,000 participants, with a particular emphasis on providing greater access to those facing socioeconomic barriers, to discover their potential. These experiences develop resilience, social competence, and environmental awareness to contribute to a better, more compassionate, and resilient society.