CCPA Summer Series 2018: Philadelphia Outward Bound School

CCPA Summer Series 2018: Philadelphia Outward Bound School

By Opal Bednarik

This summer, I had an internship at Philadelphia Outward Bound School (POBS). Outward Bound is a global non-profit that’s mission is to “change lives through challenge and discovery” by taking students on expeditions in the backcountry. At POBS, the majority of our courses consist of backpacking and canoeing in the Delaware Water Gap. POBS also runs day programming which includes team building initiatives and high ropes elements.

As I was beginning my summer internship search during the spring semester, I generated a list of qualities I wanted in a job; I wanted to work outside, work with students, be challenged by something new, and work in Philadelphia. I love the outdoors, camping and backpacking, so Outward Bound was a perfect fit. As a student in the bi-co education program, I was also very interested in learning about experiential education methods.

The summer started with a seven-day canoe trip with all of the new interns. The idea of this trip was to provide the interns with the Outward Bound student experience, bond as an intern cohort, and learn about Outward Bound’s values, history, and mission. When we left the river and returned to base, I felt very energized and excited about the summer. After staff travel, the daily work of the internship was extremely diverse–days were spent at the office supporting crews as they prepared to go into the field or at the ropes course facilitating day programming. One highlight was a week-long logistics trip where we helped crews resupply gear and food, shuttled vehicles, and supported rock climbing days. My summer internship will end with a backpacking course in the Delaware Water Gap.

POBS’s office and staff house, where I lived with 25 other staff members, are both located in historical buildings in Fairmount Park. Living and working in the park has been one of my favorite parts of my summer learning. I wanted an internship in Philadelphia because as a Haverford student it is important to me to become more invested and involved with the Philadelphia community. This aspect of my internship is also particularly relevant as I received funding through Summer Serve which funds internships with Philly non-profits in order to strengthen the connection between Haverford students and Philadelphia.

I am almost done with my internship and I feel very grateful for everything that I have learned. I learned a ton of outdoor technical skills as well as very valuable interpersonal professional skills. Feedback and clear communication are both core values at Outward Bound; this summer I learned effective strategies to give and receive feedback. These skills will be invaluable in any office or work setting in the future. As an education minor and someone interested in education as a potential future career, I feel lucky to have worked at Outward Bound. I learned creative ways to deliver curriculum and challenge students. I have always been interested in outdoor education as a field, and after this internship at POBS, I am excited to pursue it further after graduation.