Our Approach

Challenge and Self-Discovery

Extraordinary outcomes require extraordinary programs. Our programs for Boston middle school students focus on enhancing education and collaboration, building trust and confidence, and teaching conflict resolution and leadership skills.

Design Principles

Cathleen Stone Island Outward Bound youth programs are designed and delivered according to four main principles:

Learning through Experience

Cathleen Stone Island Outward Bound students move through a sequence of engaging, relevant experiences that promote skill mastery and incorporate reflection. This focus on experiential education allows students to learn from struggles and failures, as well as successes.

Challenge and Adventure

For many students, Cathleen Stone Island’s outdoor environment of challenge and adventure is unfamiliar and daunting. By moving out of their comfort zone, students discover and develop new skills, confidence and compassion.

STEM Education

While participating in our field-based programs, students build both social emotional skills and competence in STEM (science, technology, engineering, math). The experiential STEM education curriculum that aligns with the Next Generation Science Standards was designed with input from the UC Berkeley Lawrence Hall of Science’s BEETLES program - the nation’s premier outdoor science education center.

Supportive Environment

Highly skilled instructors use group facilitation methods and the natural world to engage students in programs designed to support physical and emotional safety.

Course Area

Cathleen Stone Island is one of the largest, most accessible and ecologically diverse islands in the Boston Harbor Islands National and State Park. Across 204-acres of undeveloped property, the island is home to mature forests, meadows, freshwater and marine wetlands, salt marshes and a variety of important geological features. Beyond the natural world and campsites, amenities include a formal school campus complete with dormitories, dining hall, classrooms, lab space, auditoriums, gymnasium, outdoor challenge courses and climbing towers.

Instructional Staff

Cathleen Stone Island Outward Bound hires an extremely qualified and mature staff of college graduates, teachers, social workers and outdoor professionals who are dedicated to working with students. Our instructors are extensively background-checked (including CORI and SORI screening), are required to hold Wilderness Medicine and CPR/AED certifications, and participate in an intensive staff training each season of employment. The staff to student ratio is low (typically 6:1) and students always remain 100% within sight and sound of instructors.


Outward Bound nationally pioneered the safety management processes and procedures that have become the model for the experiential education industry. Our safety policy includes national and unit standards that guide all program activity, participant screening and staff hiring, as well as instructor manuals with detailed safety requirements, unit safety directors, safety committees, safety reviews and annual safety reports. Our instructors receive regular intensive training and are certified in Wilderness First Aid, as a Wilderness First Responder, or as a Wilderness Emergency Medical Technician.

Challenge and Discovery

Our programs give students the opportunity to learn through challenge and discover their full potential.


Challenge and Discovery

Our programs give students the opportunity to learn through challenge and discover their full potential.