Sea Kayaking and Hiking Expedition

At Outward Bound we have a passion for going on Adventures unlike any other. We call these OBSA Expeditions. This is a short Blog on what one of those adventures would need and entail:

What is an Expedition: It is an organized journey that is made for a particular purpose such as exploration, mission etc.

What are the Purposes for our Expeditions:

  1. An Expedition can provide incentive for and a chance to measure individual growth and group achievement of skills, these are called oriented goals.
  2. An Expedition, more than many other types of Adventures, offers the Participant the opportunity to truly master the skills required and proceed with the activity with little or no input from an Instructor. A very empowering learning environment.
  3. It helps to identify weaknesses and strengths.

 The Equipment required for the Expedition:  

Tents and sleeping bag: The tents are used for on the ground sleeping. At Outward Bound South Africa we provide our students with two-man tents. The tent is light in weight and it is easy to carry. Outward Bound South Africa also provides students with the sleeping bag if they happen to come on course without one.             

Douglas: We use the spade to clear the cooking area so that the grass doesn’t catch a flame and it is also used for digging up the “long drop”.

Woozy mat: The woozy mat is used for the lightning drill and also for sleeping on. We tell our Students to sit on the woozy mat only when we know it is necessary to do a lightning drill.

Stoves: When Students go out for an expedition we also provide them with the ground stoves. We give them 4 stoves to use for cooking.

Food: We give our Students rations (food) when they go out for an expedition. They need to be able to share the food among themselves.

Torch: A torch is needed at night when students are hiking or during night camp crafting.

First Aid Kit: We, as Outward Bound South Africa Instructors are qualified with Level Three First Aid. We carry First Aid Kits at all times while in the great Outdoors. It is used for any emergency or if Students need medical attention.

Teaching Outline:

Ø  How to pack a back pack: The first thing that goes into the back pack is the back pack liner. It helps to keep your things dry in case it rains. The second thing that goes into back pack liner will be the sleeping bag because it is the last thing you will need, unless if it is really necessary to be used during the day. The third thing will be your clothes followed by group equipment. A rain coat should always be packed at the top or it should always be where it is easy to grab.

Ø  Food and Drinks: Most Participants are unfamiliar with the Outward Bound food and thus unaware of the possible ways of preparing it. The Instructor is their main source of information and inspiration. Before the course starts it is important as an Instructor to be familiar with the rations and the different ways of preparing them. The benefits will be healthier, more efficient and you will end up with a happy group.

Ø  Map and compass: Teaching Participants how to read a map is a very important tool. It offers metaphors to encourage people to choose the right directions in their lives. The top of the map always points North. Always teach Participants how to use a compass and how to orientate the map. The compass is the most useful when you don’t have distinctive geographical features to orientate yourself with. The magnetised needle in your compass will align itself with the earth’s magnetic field that runs approximately along its North –South axis, unless there’s something metallic or magnetic that interferes with it.

So, after reading all this, you are now ready to embark on Your very own Expedition! Send us pictures and let us know where you explored at Outward Bound SA and that you found! We can’t wait to hear all your stories…

Words by:


Training Coordinator at Outward Bound SA


From an OBSA Instructors Point of View:

Hi,  my name is Shirley Botha, and I am an Instructor  at Outward Bound South Africa.

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Over the last few years I have seen so many people come on one of our course and I am privileged enough to witness their transformation. This is my point of view about an Outward Bound course:

I was one of the children who never had the opportunity to attend anything similar to an Outward Bound course while I was growing up. I went on numerous camps which was a great deal of fun, learning about nature and doing some crafty things, but none of these things were ever remotely challenging, just fun.

I understand the necessity of something like Outward Bound, which challenges individuals and pushes them to their limits. It puts them in a team with other individuals, who are also going through similar situations, pain and suffering and they have to stick together as a family, learning to support and encourage each other through hardships. It is in these extremely difficult times, that the greatest impact in growth is observed and also the reason why I am so absolutely passionate about my job.

Even though I did not get the opportunity to attend an Outward Bound course when I was younger. I am honoured to say that I truly got a concentrated shot of what Outward Bound is all about when I started working here and  now fully understand what individuals take away when they  complete our courses.

The first 3 months of my time at Outward Bound was utter hell. I was faced with fears and challenges from all angles, some fears I never even realized I had.  At times it felt like I was going to drown, literally (think kayak rolls) and figuratively. It felt like I did not have the strength in me to see this training through. An ordinary office job suddenly seemed quite alluring even though I absolutely hate the very idea of it.  At the end I took it like climbing a big hill.  You stop staring up at the distance that you still need to travel and start looking down at your feet, concentrating on each breath, each foot step, silently motivating and encouraging yourself to keep on pushing and to not give up.  This is one of numerous metaphors that I still apply in my daily life.  Whenever it feels like a project is too big for me to handle, I just focus on taking it one small step at a time.  My experience at Outward Bound has literally saved my life at least once that I know of, but that is a story for another  time.

I will always be deeply thankful for these years and the experience here at Outward Bound South Africa and the impact it had on me. It has enriched me with a huge amount of growth.  One thing I know for sure, is that one day I will most definitely send my own kids on an Outward Bound course.  They might think I hate them at that moment, but later on they will thank me and know it was done out of love. You can save a child from discomfort and difficult circumstances for the moment, or you can give them a valuable experience or lesson, which has the potential to equip and prepare them to succeed in the future or even have the potential to save their very lives.

If you have ever been on such a course, you know exactly how this feels.

What are “Rations” and why do OBSA use them?

Firstly, you as the Reader will need to understand the fundamentals of OBSA to acknowledge the use of Rations out in the Field. Here is a brief reminder on who Outward Bound is;

Outward Bound (OB) is an international, non-profit, independent outdoor-education organization with approximately 40 schools around the world and 200,000 participants per year.[1] Outward Bound programs aim to foster the personal growth and social skills of participants by using challenging expeditions in the outdoors.

Since its founding in the middle of the last century, Outward Bound has encouraged individuals to test their physical and emotional limits in challenging outdoor adventure programs. The experiences are always life-changing: they are a means of building inner strength and a heightened awareness of human interdependence.

Outward Bound courses follow a kind of recipe or formula, termed the Outward Bound Process Model which is well described by Walsh and Golins (1976)[11] as:

  1. Taking a ready, motivated learner
  2. into a prescribed, unfamiliar physical environment,
  3. along with a small group of people
  4. who are faced with a series of incremental, inter-related problem-solving tasks
  5. which creates in the individual a state of dissonance requiring adaptive coping and
  6. leads to a sense of mastery or competence when equilibrium is managed.
  7. The cumulative effect of these experiences leads to a re-organisation of the self-conceptions and information the learner holds about him/herself.
  8. The learner will then continue to be positively oriented to further learning and development experiences (transfer).

In a typical class, participants are divided into small patrols (or groups) under the guidance of one or more instructors. The first few days, often at a base camp, are spent training for the Outdoor recreation activities that the course will contain and in the philosophy of Outward Bound. After initial confidence-building challenges, the group heads off on an expedition. As the group develops the capacity to do so, the instructors ask the group to make its own decisions.



Rations are better, right?

At Outward Bound, we provide rations for camping as we want our participants to be self-sustainable and to learn to cook for themselves. The food mentioned works well for our programs as it does not expire quickly and is easy to carry out in the field without spoiling.

Preparing the right kind of food for an overnight or extended hike at Outward Bound is one of the most important considerations Participants need to make. Food can add considerably to the weight of one’s backpack, significantly affecting the level of enjoyment experienced on the hike. The following list is just a guideline:

Cooking out on the camp is not only fun but a bit of a ritual. It’s worthwhile putting the time into it. Here are some tips for your food preparation;

As with other gear, weight is very important when considering which food items to pack.

On a longer hiking trip (say three days or more), aim to pack about 700 grams – 1kg per person per day.

A balanced hiking diet includes more Carbs and sugar than a normal diet. Some walkers prefer to have breakfast on the hike after leaving camp.



Cereals such as Weetbix, Creamy meal, Cornflakes are a good balance of taste and nutrients. Add powdered milk to cereals and mix with water later.

One might also prefer a Porridge of sorts: Oats, Maltabella, or Morvite. Everything tastes good out on the Hike.



You can make sandwiches for the first day or pack some of the ingredients below and make them in the bush

This could be made up of Crackers, such as Provitas, or Bread; sliced and fairly thin with regular cheddar cheese or maybe even some Tuna or protein packed peanut butter.



Fresh fruit and/or vegetables are vey important to have with you and complete the diet. Generally for shorter trips only. Choose items that are easy to carry, such as potatoes, carrots, onions, tomatoes and peppers. The variety of food you can cook on your hike is endless – if you know how. There are many prepared packet meals, either rice or noodle based that we use on our programs. When cooked simply and quickly, they make a filling and tasty dinner. Add any extras you like – cheese, salami, tuna, dehydrated (or fresh) vegetables etc. Add your Carbohydrates: rice, pasta or noodles, dried mashed potato/rice noodles or couscous. Most people find they can eat a whole “4 serving” packet themselves, after a good day’s hike!

Hot drinks

These usually consist of Powdered milk, hot chocolate, tea, coffee, sugar, and malt powder. Think about how much you will need this on a cold winters night!

What to know when hiking in the Garden Route, South Africa.

Imagine you go hiking in the local Forests and Mountain Ranges of one of South Africa’s prime adventure spots, the Garden Route of the Western Cape. When on these types are escapades, there are always things that you should consider having on your or in your back pack. Here are 6 basic tips for hiking in the Garden Route that I have found useful in the past. However, please do not take these as a firm rule.  These are just tips based from my experience over the years.


  1. A good pair of hiking boots is invaluable. Many areas on the Outeniqua Mountains have unexpectedly rough terrain. Even if you are out on a moderate level hike, you don’t want to slip on a rock or twist your ankle because you were wearing takkies.
  2. A back pack with several compartments to store items is essential. Bring along items such as bandaids, antiseptic ointment, ole skin to cover blisters, flashlights (in case you get lost and end up hiking in the dark), bring a warm jacket, bug spray, a map of the area, a compass and your cell phone. Ensure that you have emergency contacts in case anything goes wrong.
  3. Ensure that you have enough water to drink. Keep rehydrating at all times because your body looses water in the form of sweat.
  4. As for your socks, wear something that is wool based. Wool won’t hold the sweat as much and it will allow your feet to actually breathe. Sweat accumulation in socks is a cause of blistering because a wet sock tends to rub against the skin more tightly than a dry one, which slides along the shoe.
  5. Take frequent rests as needed. Go slowly on your way down, since this is when most injuries occur. Gravity is pulling you down and you are tired, so you tend to slip on rocks and you could lose your footing easily.
  6. Do not hike alone in dangerous areas. Always have a few people to hike with as it might not be safe to hike alone.


22 Ways to Enhance a Debrief

Imagine with me, that you have an immense fear of heights and your Outward Bound South Africa (OBSA) Instructor is slowing and clearly giving you instructions on how to climb a very long and very narrow pole. And then once having ascended to the top, you are told to stand up straight, with the support of the belay ropes anchoring you from below, and then once again told to jump and catch the swinging bar in the distance in front of you all while in the air.

You freeze from fear. Your inner self telling you that you are not capable of making the jump and that the rope supporting you will fail. But there’s another voice too. Telling you that you CAN do it and that you are capable of the task if you just TRUST yourself and your team below. With shaking knees and a racing heart, you close your eyes and leap. Taking the leap of faith.

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Once back on the ground, you get together with your OBSA Instructor and your Team and open up and chat about that activity and what it meant to you. This is the debrief.

One of the main reasons that an Outward Bound program is so different from that of other Adventure Companies, is our fundamental concept of Group Debriefings. This is an important educational tool to better gain an understanding from the Participants on their experience with the OBSA activities.

What is a Debrief?

Google describes a debriefing as a process of receiving information or reporting of measures of performance, and/or opportunities to further investigate the results of a study, investigation, or assessment of performance after participation in an immersive activity is complete.


Here are some ways to enhance a debrief with your Group:

  1. Get the group in a circle sitting knee to knee to standing shoulder to shoulder.
  2. Don’t leave any unfinished business, terminate all issues appropriately for every learner.
  3. Ensure that you maintain eye contact with whomever is speaking.
  4. Keep aware of others in the circle and non-verbally acknowledge when it’s their turn to speak or becoming distracted.
  5. Maintain a clear structure or ‘rules’ to your debrief. A good tool is the Full Value Concept (speaker in charge, respecting others and yourself, ect).
  6. Don’t be surprised by Participants resistance to a debrief, it’s often not how Participants are used to learning and takes some getting used to.
  7. Treat what Participants have to say with respect.
  8. Encourage those who are not Participants to speak by asking them direct, fair and inclusive questions.
  9. Learn from each facilitation session by being evaluated by peers, learners and yourself.
  10. Sit across the circle from your co-facilitator and establish non-verbal cues to communicate with them while you’re co-facilitating (such as leaning forward if I would like to follow a response with a questions).
  11. Take discrete notes of the activity and in the debrief refer to them when asking direct questions.
  12. One structed format that works is Gestalt, which has a questioning format of “What, So What, and Now What”.
  13. Sometimes it’s best to “let the mountain speak for itself”.
  14. Be creative and humorous (at appropriate times).
  15. Keep notes on each Participant so you can have them reflect on things that they have already learnt or goals that they have already set.
  16. Take your time reflecting on the learning, make sure that you have a solid awareness amongst the group about what just happened so that they can effectively and efficiently transfer the learning.
  17. Ask the tough questions to really challenge your Participants.
  18. Probe, Probe, Probe for the deeper meaning within the answer.
  19. Read more literature on facilitating a debrief, understand and apply the theory.
  20. Challenge what your Participants have said in a developmentally appropriate manner that challenges them to develop their thoughts into meaningful understanding.
  21. Pick a key word that a Participant has used and when they have finished their response simply say the word in an inquisitive manner (Respect or Pressure?).
  22. Utilize solutions oriented debriefing techniques by asking Participants questions about the experiences successes, how Participants achieve them and how the success can be replicated both directly and indirectly.

Give some of these a try and please let us know how it works out for you.

Written by:

Ashleigh Davies


What Are The Safety Standards At Outward Bound South Africa?

At Outward Bound South Africa (OBSA) our primary focus is our Participants Safety while on one of our wilderness courses. We pride ourselves on our high International Safety  Standards and can easily say that Safety is our Number One priority! Why? Well it’s simple, OBSA is solely responsible for our Participant’s lives while on our expeditional  programs.

OBSA allows Participants’ to face challenges and to push themselves clear out of their personal comfort zones in the largest classroom in the world, the Outdoors. Obviously there are risks. There are risks all around us in life, but at OBSA, we  implement and follow through with our strict safety protocols and recovery procedures to make sure that our Participants have an extraordinary experience while in a very safe environment. It’s all thanks to the OBSA Instructors who ensure the safety of our Participants, as they always keep a watchful eye on them during the course. So let’s take a look at what makes our OBSA Instructors so important…

1.) Training and the more Training.

It all starts with the training. Our instructors are put through a challenging 3 month Training School that is not for the faint hearted (speaking from experience). The training is managed by our Training Manager where the Trainees need to get their LOC’s (Level Of Competence) for all the activities: Canoeing, Kayaking, Rock Climbing, Abseiling, Facilitation, Group Dynamic, High Ropes, and ETC. Once the Trainees have acquired their LOC’s, they become Level 1 Instructors.

During the training phase,  the Trainees have the responsibility to keep themselves fit, and still do after they become Instructors so that they can be ready for anything on course.

Most courses involve water based activities, so swimming is the most important  element during training. The Instructors are trained to swim distances of 200m under 6 Minutes while being fully clothed (to add extra drag) as well as and being trained in basic life saving skills with a kayak and without, to act immediately if there is an emergency.

2.) First Aid Qualifications.

First Aid is vital for our Instructors who must all have Level 3 First Aid. An Instructor will carry a First Aid Kit with them at all times when they are on an OBSA course, to ensure that they can respond quick enough in emergency situations should something go amiss. Each year around August we do Scenario Training to put our Instructors in certain scenarios that is treated as real life situations.

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3.) Equipment Safety.

Every month the OBSA Staff do Safety Checks around the OBSA Home Base to see if all our equipment and activities are safe and in working condition. If there are problems there are system and protocols in place for it to be resolved.


4.) Learn about each individual Participant.

The next thing that the Instructors will do at the start of each and every course is a Medical 1-on-1 with the Participants. This will ensure that each Participant is physical and mental eligible to go on a course. Should a Participant have a prior medical condition, this then allows the Instructor to become aware of the condition and will then know how to treat it should the Participant’s aliment arise. This screening is so that if something happens to a Participant, the Instructor can act accordingly. If they need to go to the hospital we can easily give the Doctors the necessary information.

So there you have it, a bit about the safety aspect of OBSA. Should you have any questions, please contact us on or call us on (044) 343 2044.

This Blog was written by our Level 2 Instructor,

Jacob van Dyk.



The HAHN Philosophy

What, then, is the Hahn philosophy and what were the principles which were special to the Salem and Gordonstoun system?

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Hahn saw around him a diseased society suffering from what he called the modern declines. Decline in: fitness, due to modern transport; initiative, due to the widespread disease of spectatoritis; skill and care, due to the weakening tradition of craftsmanship; self-discipline, due to availability of stimulants; memory and imagination, due to the confused restlessness of modern life; and, above all, the decline in compassion, due to the unseemly haste with which modern life is conducted.

Then he asked: What happens to the “treasures of childhood” in adolescence – the zest for building; the craving for adventure; the joy of exploration; the love of music, painting or whiting; the vivid and creative imagination? These he called the non-poisonous passions and his system was designed to encourage these and thus forestall the decline. He made use of several devices which at the time were fairly revolutionary.

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To foster self-discipline; pupils were encouraged to follow a so-called training plan – a simple routine task such as a short run followed by a shower every morning. There was also a great deal of trust placed in them with a few checks, and the older ones were expected to look after the younger one. The training plan was not arduous although it gave Gordonstoun an unfair reputation of being tough and Spartan-like.

Today, Physical Education is a regular part of all education systems. There were the regular expeditions which encouraged the spirit of adventure and exploration, seamanship to encourage skill. But perhaps the best known feature of Gordonstoun was its rescue services: The Watchers, the Fire Service, the Mountain Rescue, the Surf Life-Savers and, later, The Community Service. It was perhaps the most salient feature of Hahn theory that youth could find itself in service to others; it gave a raison d’eter for the other qualities of fitness, skill, initiative, ect; and, above all, encourage the compassion which he maintained was the essential difference between his code and those of totalitarian state youth movements. But any service had to be real – playing at it was not enough – hence, the services had to be integrated into national organizations.

Hahn believed that the virtues of fitness, skill, initiative and self-discipline counted for little by themselves and may even be misused to colonize the minds of young people, as in the youth movements of the world’s regimes dedicated to various ideologies. Their true value is found in compassionate service to fellow humans.

To this day Outward Bound Trust of South Africa still believe and operates under Hahn’s philosophy. We believe in empowering the young people with skills that will help improve their Academic Performances, Leadership Abilities, Motivation, Initiative, Self Concept, Discipline and Self Control, Interpersonal Skills, Integrity, Character & Value, Tenacity & Perseverance, Assertiveness and Teamwork.

Our programs and courses push the students out of their comfort zones in order for them to learn about their weaknesses and use their strengths for the benefit of other fellow students and for themselves, also to face their fears and overcome them.

The mission of Outward Bound SA is to transform individuals and groups to achieve their best. We equip people with character, will, values and self-belief to live their lives to the full and to consistently make the right choices. We aim to transform communities through the influence of transformed individuals.

“Vision without action is dreaming. Action without vision is random activity. Vision and action together can change the world”

-Joel Barker

Written by:

Area Coordinator,



On every Outward Bound Exploration, there is always a systematic procedure that our experienced Instructors follow to maintain our safety standards. This is a great way of keeping a balance within the group and making sure that everyone is accountable for and aware of their surroundings. The following diagrams are great examples of where the Group Leader should be positioned within the Group and why.


                      STUDENT   ♦                                                                   INSTRUCTOR  ψ


POSITIONING STRATEGIES (in relation to physical positioning):




FAR SWEEP                      SWEEP                      MIDDLE                  LEAD                  FAR LEAD


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  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ψ

INTENTION: this position allows the staff member to micro navigate and to be in position if any hazards are encountered. Also allows the staff member to role model navigation and keeping the group together. This positioning is often used early on a course or during difficult terrain.





♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦  ♦                ψ

INTENTION: this position allows the staff member to move ahead of the group to macro navigate and/or recon the terrain and anticipate any hazards. This position also allows the students to take ownership of the micro navigation.





 ♦   ♦   ♦  ψ  ♦   ♦   ♦

INTENTION: this position allows the staff member to build relationships, assess, assist, and/or check-in with individual students, and to coach the student navigators. The staff member is close enough to the front to also intervene if hazards are encountered.





ψ  ♦   ♦   ♦   ♦   ♦   ♦

INTENTION: this position allows the staff member to observe the group and still build relationships, while giving the navigators and student group more autonomy. The staff member is no longer in position to anticipate hazards or to coach the student navigators.





 ψ                   ♦   ♦   ♦   ♦   ♦   ♦


INTENTION: this position grants the students with more autonomy and is warranted when students demonstrate competency with regards to navigation, travel, hazard assessment, and social cohesion.





♦   ♦   ♦

♦   ♦   ♦


INTENTION: this position allows the staff member to observe the whole group and to be in position to react to risk management or educational needs. The group is enabled to spread out which can be useful when traveling through open, fragile, or aquatic environments.




These diagrams describe individual positions. When there are two or more staff present they can each position themselves to accommodate a multitude of needs, assessments, and intentions. With common names staff can efficiently and clearly communicate the plan for their positioning. (see below).




♦   ♦   ♦  ψ  ♦   ♦   ♦                 ψ


INTENTION: These two positions combined allows one staff member to move ahead of the group to macro navigate and/or recon the terrain and anticipate any hazards, while the other staff member can observe the group and build relationships This position also allows the students to take ownership of the micro navigation, but the staff member in the middle can easily intervene if hazards are encountered.

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Have you ever had to use these types of stratigues before?

If so, let us know all about it..