WCU partners with NC Outward Bound School

Students in Western Carolina University’s parks and recreation management program have the opportunity to receive on-the-job training with one of the nation’s most prestigious outdoor education organizations, thanks to a strengthened partnership with the North Carolina Outward Bound School.

The relationship between WCU and Outward Bound was established during the spring semester of 2005 when Jeanette Hyde, vice chair of Western’s board of trustees and a former member of the NCOBS board of directors, made a suggestion to Robert Caruso, vice chancellor for student affairs.

Representatives from the NCOBS came to Western in the summer of 2005 to promote Outward Bound courses specifically designed for incoming freshmen. The courses are aimed at helping students make positive transitions into the college lifestyle, and create connections and effective strategies toward becoming successful students at the university.

The relationship has continued by expanding training courses for freshmen. Outward Bound and Western have continued strengthening their partnership by providing new internship opportunities for parks and recreation management students who will benefit from increased training sessions and hands-on learning through summer work and internships, beginning this summer.

“This internship program is really a great opportunity to be exposed to a prestigious organization that is very competitive to work for,” said Josh Whitmore, director of Base Camp Cullowhee, which offers outdoor-based leisure and educational activities for member of the Western community. “Through the internship program, students have the opportunity to receive very specialized training and be involved in an experience that would be valuable in any organization.”

Through the partnership, both NCOBS and WCU look out for each other, Whitmore said. Equipment and staff can be shared between the partners in exchange for outdoor services and training purposes, which helps reduce the cost for students to attend outdoor adventures at Western, and increases the amount of skilled employees, volunteers and interns at Outward Bound.

For example, Base Camp Cullowhee occasionally needs additional gear to run its trips. In the fall of 2005, BCC took a group of students to the Outer Banks over fall break for a sea kayak trip. NCOBS was able to supply BCC with sea kayaks and related camping equipment, which greatly reduced the price for WCU students, Whitmore said.

Base Camp Cullowhee staff also will help Outward Bound with staffing logistics over the summer, the busiest time of the year for the organization.

This summer, WCU will send its first student to take part in the summer internship program.

Christy Johnston, a 2003 graduate of Enka High School and the daughter of James and Dianne Johnston of Candler, has accepted the internship at NCOBS. Johnston is a senior majoring in parks and recreation management with a concentration in outdoor leadership and instruction.

“I’m very excited to work with the close-knit family community of NCOBS,” Johnston said. “I’m the first from Western to intern there and I want to do well to keep an open doorway for future Western students so they also have the opportunity to work there.”

For more information, contact Josh Whitmore, director of outdoor programs, at (828) 227-3466.