For the first time in nearly 60 years, students will not be sailing in pulling boats in Penobscot Bay or paddling, climbing and hiking in the Northwoods of Maine in the summertime. Our decision to suspend programming for the 2020 summer was emotionally challenging but intellectually straight forward. Along with all the other Outward Bound Schools in the United States, we recognize and honor the fact that our reputation has been built around decades of industry-leading safety and risk management with students in the wilderness. The SARS COVID-19 virus is unpredictable and lethal and the medical community has been continuously challenged to make an assessment of its virulence. OBUSA’s guidelines for resumption of programming as well as the local coronavirus regulatory environment here in Maine have added strict and necessary pandemic response requirements for HIOBS to follow to ensure students and staff are safe while out in the field, on our bases and in our care. We cannot ensure that level of safety at this point in the pandemic and therefore we have suspended all programming until September 1, 2020.
So what does this mean for HIOBS? We will plan and hope for a changing COVID-19 testing and tracking landscape over the ensuing months that may allow us to resume programming in the fall at the earliest. Along with the rest of the OBUSA system we will assess and refine our internal safety policies and operational readiness procedures so that when the national health and safety environment is right, we can get back to bringing students into our wilderness classrooms. If conditions are not safe for fall programming, we will set another horizon line. Rest assured, we will get back out there. The resilience and tenacity that we bring out in our students is alive and well in our HIOBS community of staff and board members. HIOBS will endure.
Until then, we must use our resources wisely to ensure that we come out of this program hibernation period stronger and better as an organization. We will seek out pockets of innovation. We will continue to build partnerships across like-minded organizations to allow us to serve more students more powerfully. And we will look into our backyards and find ways to help serve our communities and the people in them.
If you thought HIOBS instructors were the best in the business before the world fell apart, get ready for when they get back out in the field. They are taking this pause in student programming to refine their craft, learn new ways of teaching and interacting with students, and are hungry to head out on their own personal expeditions to keep their adventurous DNA firing (and not have to eat HIOBS field food the entire summer). They are the best for a reason. They never stop looking for challenge, new learning opportunities and finding ways to demonstrate compassion.
HIOBS is alive and well. We will stay strong in adversity and ever present to the changing world around us. We will be back out in the field again as soon as we are able.
Serving with you,
President and Executive Director
Hurricane Island Outward Bound School
THERE IS MORE IN US THAN WE KNOW. IF WE CAN BE MADE TO SEE IT, PERHAPS FOR THE REST OF OUR LIVES WE WILL BE UNWILLING TO SETTLE FOR LESS.
For reliable information on the COVID-19 outbreak, please refer to the resources below:
If you have questions about specific international locations, please also see: