Posted on Jan 20, 2020

EcoEducation: Education for Life - Voyageur Outward Bound School

Jack Lee, Executive Director of Voyageur Outward Bound School (VOBS) and Rotarian from Edina Morningside, and Katherine Davis, Development Officer, shared how experiences with the VOBS program changes lives through challenge and discovery.  Their core belief is that, for everyone, there is more in them than they know.  There is more ability, more resilience, and more potential.  They shared with us why the wilderness is the most powerful environment in which to engage in this discovery. 
The wilderness is a great equalizer.  Participants in VOBS come from all walks of life, but when it rains during a portage, it rains on everyone equally.  When that rain lasts for five days, everyone must work together to stay dry.  The identities and trappings we create during our day to day lives are stripped away and we learn about ourselves and those around us in a way that is normally inaccessible. 
Using the wilderness as a vehicle to learn life competencies such as emotional management, teamwork, initiative, responsibility, problem solving, and empathy, also infuses an importance of being a steward; a steward of the environment and the people around you. The VOBS expeditions seek to take from the wilderness all the lessons it has to give, but leave no trace of their passage.  The program also shows its investment and respect and debt to the wilderness by actively opposing mining within the BWCA. 
VOBS believes that there is an increasing "nature deficit" within our lives and it negatively affects our physical and mental health.  This deficit disproportionately affects people in urban environments.  Reengaging with nature and all of its beauty and challenge through a program like VOBS is a vehicle to expand our vision of what is possible within ourselves and within our communities.  
Jack Lee throughout his talk made the argument that VOBS and Rotary are complementary and in the end have a similar message.  Each provide an environment to make the discovery that "there is more in you than you know" and inspire members to use that discovery in the service of others.