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Outward Bound uses Flock to communicate adventure

outward bound adventure - a group of 7 people climbing a mountainPhoto by Ashim D’Silva on Unsplash

When’s the last time you went on an adventure? Outward Bound provides experience-based outdoor learning and leadership programs around the world. Through hands-on learning experiences, Outward Bound offers lessons in character, leadership, and service. The goal: improving students’ professional and personal lives.

Outward Bound USA offers more than 1,000 courses year-round, serving 40,000 students of all ages across 11 locations in the United States. With a nationwide community of more than 1 million people, it was crucial for Outward Bound to find a communication tool that fit for them. Enter Flock.

Connecting teammates across the country with Flock

Tyler Fish, learning specialist at Outward Bound’s Professional Learning Lab, knew his team needed something different. His five teammates are strewn across the country, from Minnesota to Georgia to Boston, and email wasn’t working.

“We needed another way to communicate, and didn’t want to use email, because it just seemed like clogged inboxes, things scrolling down and missing them, and… it felt like a clumsy way to get done what we needed to get done,” he tells us. So he signed up for Flock. And two years later, his team is still thriving on the app.

“Flock’s a tool like anything else,” Fish explains, “but having a chat-based system makes it a little more engaging and real, and quickly useful. If I want to ask two people something, I can fire them a message, whereas how am I going to ask two people something at the same time otherwise, if they’re not in the same room?” 

The Professional Learning Lab at Outward Bound focuses on incorporating research-backed best practices in character development into professional learning for all Outward Bound Instructors. Fish and his team use Flock to communicate with each other and also with new educators and participants in Outward Bound’s programs. They create different channels tailored to the needs of staff and attendees.

  • For team building, the Professional Learning Lab has its own "virtual watercooler" where the team can chat television or share photos of their kids. 
  • For event planning, dispersed team members set up channels to prepare for different meetings and events around the country. 
  • To get attendees up to speed, group leaders invite them as guests to Flock. They set up course-specific channels for the team to communicate and provide real-time updates.

 

Outward Bound offers challenging outdoor adventure programs like alpine climbing, dog sledding, and sea kayaking. Attendees have to learn survival skills and mentally and physically prepare for days out in open nature. For Outward Bound’s trainings, Fish finds it easy to use Flock to organize attendees and make himself readily available to them.

“I needed a way to communicate and ask questions, or to poll them, or to tell them what their options were, or to just say “hey, quick schedule update,” and that was a lot easier,” he says. “Email may be how we formally introduce it, but once it’s in motion, then I want it to move faster. I want them to get information, I want them to be able to contact me faster, and then that’s what we do.”

That immediate link to attendees is key for Fish, and for Outward Bound as a whole. The team has started using Flock as a verb, and better understands that different people have their own systems of communication. He says, “people know that Tyler doesn’t respond to emails, but Flock him and he’ll get back right away.”

Giving attendees the experience of their lives

“Flock has become a great tool for us to use, and it’s fast. Just like texting is in your personal life, Flock is for your professional life.”

Flock allows Outward Bound to coordinate quickly and efficiently communicate across the globe. “There’s so many things out there these days that you’ve got to pick and choose what works with the whole communication system,” says Fish. “But Flock fills a niche, without which, I’d be like, ‘ah! How are we going to do this?’” 

Ultimately, Fish and his Outward Bound colleagues use Flock to help give attendees the adventure of their lives. The program teaches important lessons on building mental strength and self-confidence that are life changing.

 

Daniel Trichon, who attended the Alpine Course in the Rockies, had this to say about Outward Bound: “It was the single most impactful thing I did in my teenage years. I learned how resilient I can be in the face of major obstacles, which gave me confidence in my own abilities, even when questioned by others.”

 

To learn more about Outward Bound and the adventures you can take, visit their website here.

Case Studies, Using Flock

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