Outward Bound Scholarships

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Outward Bound has come to mean many things in different places and for the great variety of people who are drawn to it. But at its heart, in every time and place, is … [the] conviction that it is possible, even in a relatively short time, to introduce greater balance and compassion into human lives by impelling people into experiences which show them they can rise above adversity and overcome their own defeatism. They can make more of their lives than they thought they could, and learn to serve others with their strength.

– Thomas James, from Kurt Hahn and the Aims of Education

Each year, the Carolina Center for Public Service (CCPS) awards North Carolina Outward Bound School (NCOBS) scholarships to participants in the Buckley Public Service Scholars program, Carolina Leadership Development and the School of Education. Recipients receive full tuition to a 28-day course at NCOBS.


Only current participants in the Buckley Public Service Scholars program or Carolina Leadership Development or students in the School of Education at UNC-Chapel Hill are eligible. Applicants must be at least 18 years old, physically fit, involved in public service and returning to UNC for the following academic year. Morehead-Cain Scholars and others who have participated before in Outward Bound courses or in similar outdoor leadership experiences (such as NOLS) are not eligible.


The application deadline for the 2016 scholarships is now closed. The summer 2016 course is NCOBS Course NCC7-661 and will take place July 2 – July 29, 2016.

More specific information about these particular courses can be found on the course pages of the NCOBS website.


Since 2011, the Thomas James Outward Bound Scholarship Endowment has funded these scholarships. The endowment is named in honor of longtime NCOBS board member and former dean of the UNC School of carolina pictureEducation, Tom James. In addition, NCOBS also offers an additional scholarship for a Carolina student in honor of former UNC-CH student body president Eve Carson.

The scholarship covers the full tuition and fees for a 28-day course with NCOBS. In 2015, the value of each scholarship totaled $4,843. Each scholarship recipient is only responsible for the cost of his or her own clothing, physical examination and travel to and from NCOBS.



Upon returning from NCOBS in the fall semester, students will be asked to answer a few questions reflecting on lessons learned while on course and how the experience has affected their involvement with public service.

The NCOBS course can count as a BPSS skills training and should be logged in the Buckley Portfolio by the summer hours and trainings deadline, typically during of the second week of fall classes.

About the North Carolina Outward Bound School

By its own description, NCOBS is “neither a summer camp nor an eco-travel company, nor a fleet of guides and porters. It is a school.” As such, the Outward Bound experience is unpredictable, adventurous and unforgettable. Students who participate in the program will spend time in a variety of wilderness areas developing practical outdoor skills and learning about the inherent connections between humanity and the environment. As the experience progresses, NCOBS instructors turn over the decision-making responsibilities to the members of the group. Participants may captain a boat, lead an ascent or navigate their group through difficult terrain. These are all opportunities to realize the success of their own decisions and plans as well as learn from their mistakes.

Groups consist of six to 12 members who work as a team and undertake progressively more challenging experiences during the course of the program. Depending on weather and other variables, participants may experience backpacking, caving, canoeing, mountaineering, rock climbing, rappelling and a ropes course. All technical gear and food is provided by NCOBS; participants are responsible for providing their own clothing and appropriate footwear.