Adventure coupled with service
Camden — Hurricane Island Outward Bound School has partnered with Safe Passages to offer not only adventurous and physically challenging trips, but also community service in foreign countries.
Many students choose to take a semester off from college and Outward Bound has been running adventure programs during typical school breaks for decades. For the first time, though, a partnership with Safe Passages is allowing students to also provide community service in Guatemala.
Students began their journey in Maine, sailing the coast to the Florida Keys as part of the Outward Bound program. From Florida, students travel a route through Panama to Guatemala to serve as teacher's assistants at public and private schools.
HIOBS Executive Director Eric Denny said the partnership with Safe Passages came about after receipt of feedback indicating a need for "rigorous service work" from both national and international organizations and a desire for those opportunities from college students and recent graduates.
"The work that they're doing is critical," he said of HIOBS students in the program.
HIOBS Marketing Director Amanda Hoel said the young students in Guatemala City are typically between 4 and 7 years old and there are a total of 37 schools in the area being assisted by the program. As teaching assistants, subjects including reading, writing, basic math and language are taught.
Denny noted HIOBS students participate in service projects throughout their travels, including some in Maine prior to departure. Many HIOBS students have done extensive traveling already — participation is limited to those between 18 and 30 — but most have not completed service work.
"This provides a different challenge ... a more thoughtful way," Denny said.
College students may receive credit for the program through Outward Bound affiliate Western Colorado State University, Denny noted. Hoel said other certifications — Wilderness Advanced First Aid and Adult CPR — also are included in the program.
While in Guatemala City, HIOBS students stay with host families and are able to hone, or develop, Spanish speaking skills. Denny said students also form strong bonds among each other during the experience.
"It's first about the individual, then about the team, then about the community we live in and serve," he said. "They've got to want to go for it."
"Outward Bound and Safe Passage gave me the skills I needed to grow as a person, and see my past experiences help with my current problems. Rock climbing helped me by helping me physically and mentally push myself," said Gregory Perlman.
"This course was awesome because of its extreme diversity between each component, each as thorough and profound as the last. The integration of Safe Passage was a great idea, and a great way to finalize the experience of an Outward Bound course," Brian Bartter said.
Others shared personal growth gained through the program, including Jevon Ellison-Scowcroft, who said, " ... I am more than capable of changing, adapting, living a healthy lifestyle, being free of criticism, live in the moment and be compassionate."
Like college, the program comes with a fee but financial aid is available. During winter months, a shorter but similar program is planned to take place with the initial departure location in the Florida Keys, Hoel said, with students traveling to Guatemala City from there.
Denny noted HIOBS students often decide to stay in foreign locations after the program is over.
"It's up to them what they want to do," he said.
Courier Publications Editor Stephanie Grinnell can be reached at 236-8511 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
(207) 236-8511 ext. 302
Stephanie has served as editor of Camden Herald since its return in April 2012.
Previously, she was editor of VillageSoup's Capital Weekly in Augusta and has worked a number of years in the newspaper business from southern Maine to Waldo County.
Outside the office, she enjoys reading, cooking and gardening.
Stephanie lives in Washington with her husband Jeff, four children, a dog named Chewbacca, a rabbit and two chickens.
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