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As it was, the program on day one lacked the element of team building, it resembled a normal activity with very little challenge. It was obvious that the canoe activity was meant to be relatively easy in order to build confidence for the tasks that would come later in the program, but it still could have been made a little more in line with the program goals by the inclusion of a specific task while completing the canoe trip.
Having the team members complete the trip with different partners would allow them to get to know one another better. It would prepare them for the teamwork that would come later in the program. As it is, the instructor was only able to observe a limited number of potential teams. Having them make the trip with different teams would have allowed more observations of their ability to adapt to different styles of problem solving, risk taking, and overcoming challenges.
The instructor was engaging, but did nor actively encourage the destruction of gender biases the would affect the ability of the team to work together after the experience., the instructor needs to be made aware through training of the potential pitfalls of cultural and gender roles. It was apparent that in the group, the women are not used to taking on a leadership role and that they tended to be followers, rather than leaders. The leadership skills of all group members need to be encouraged from the beginning of the program.
The Outward Bound program is one of the oldest and more reputable of the outdoor education programs available. They provide a variety of programs to a number of persons around the globe. However, the programs do not seem to address many of the issues found in the literature regarding cultural, gender and age bias. Nonetheless, customers report that it achieves its goal and that teams function more effectively after the program.
Even though participants feel like the program achieves its goals, room still exists for improvement. Instructors need to be made aware of the importance of existing group dynamics and the power structure that team members bring with them to the adventure. Old habits, such as hierarchical behavior, needs to be torn down in order to help foster leadership and confidence in all team members. It appeared that the women in the group were following the other managers and needed to be encouraged to take on a leadership role. The same would hold true if members of the group included those of a different cultural background form the rest of the team, as our research demonstrated.
Outdoor education has become an important part of corporate managerial training and is expected to continue to grow. Companies are now beginning to understand the importance of fostering the growth of their human capital. Older, authority-based styles of management are now being replaced with styles that foster cooperation and team building. Managers are now viewed as an integral part of the team, rather than as task masters who assign, but do not participate in tasks. The Outward Bound program remains one of the top outdoor education programs in the world and will continue to set the standard for other programs in the future.
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