2021 Impact Report

2021 Overview

Following a year that stopped us all in our tracks, COBS forged ahead with a busy 2021. Thanks to our amazing staff and their commitment to executing carefully constructed health and safety protocols, COBS operated at around 75% of pre-pandemic levels without a single COVID-19 outbreak on course. We were thrilled to see off-the-chart demand for our traditional open-enrollment courses. Families trusted COBS to provide their youth with opportunities to experience the restorative power of nature. We’re grateful to continue facilitating life-changing experiences in one of the best spaces to be during a pandemic – outdoors. These spaces offer countless physical and mental health benefits to help our students recover from this challenging time.

I learned that I am worthy of self-love and that I am strong, physically and emotionally. I learned how to advocate for myself and to express my emotions in a healthy way.
-Talula, 2021 COBS student

A group of people stand in a shallow river in a red desert canyon.Planning for the Future

In 2021, the COBS team finalized and made significant progress on objectives for the path ahead through our new three-year strategic plan:

  • Implementing a holistic diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) strategy at any organization is a journey that is never complete. COBS started this work in earnest about five years ago and the journey continues. In 2021, COBS doubled down on our DEI efforts by investing in a new Director of Human Resources who will be crucial to our forward progress. COBS also launched a new DEI working group, comprised of staff from all levels and Board of Directors representatives. Staff participants receive a stipend to demonstrate the value of their time. This working group will be instrumental in defining our DEI objectives and charting critical action steps as an organization.
  • COBS successfully paid off our revolving line of credit in 2021. After a financially challenging 2020 for the entire Outward Bound network, this was a huge milestone toward COBS’s financial sustainability. Federal stimulus funds and high demand for open-enrollment courses helped make this possible.
  • We invested in our field staff by implementing the first of three wage increases. We will continue to work toward our goal to meet and maintain industry median wages by 2023. We also re-built our key administrative and program teams following pandemic-related layoffs and attrition in 2020, and implemented compensation increases at almost all levels, effective in 2022, to help recruit and retain our talented staff.
  • Improved and refined communications with students and families, with scale to meet seasonal volume. The COBS team focused heavily on the student and family experience in 2021. With support through a generous grant from the Boettcher Foundation, COBS automated a significant portion of our open-enrollment student and family communications. There are more improvements to come in 2022, specifically for non-open enrollment courses. These systems allow our Course Advisors to spend less time sending routine messages and more time communicating with students and their families one-on-one. We are also excited to be sharing more mid-course updates and photos from the field.
  • Developing curriculum and measuring student outcomes. As we continue to focus on our key demographic of youth between the ages of 12 and 25, we made significant investments in our course curriculum and research regarding student outcomes. In partnership with the national Outward Bound Learning Lab, we continue to evolve and refine both our curriculum and the student experience on all courses, whether one day, 72 days, or everything in between.
  • Caring for our base camps. Our base camps are one of our most critical and beautiful assets. In 2021, we were able to invest in a new Facilities Director who has helped with planning, maintenance, and improvements at our base camps in Leadville, Marble, and Moab.

A group stands with backpacks on holding treking poles. A treed valley and mountain skyline are behind them.

Enjoying the view on CCTM-141 Continental Divide Mountaineering.

A group of three stand in the desert hugging and facing the camera. They have smiles on their faces and the sun is setting in the background.

Feeling some serious joy on CCGL-171 Leadership Semester.

A group stands facing the camera with an alpine valley and mountain peaks in the background.

Another epic view, this time experienced by students on CCTM-142 Sawatch Range Mountaineering.

Campaigns and Events

Keep the (Out)Doors Open 2021

In a year of rebuilding, our incredible donors, students and families, staff, and many others showed up in a big way. During the spring Keep the (Out)Doors Open campaign, 68 supporters helped raise more than $81,000 for the school. Thank you!

Black Tie & Tennis Shoes

We look forward to our Black Tie and Tennis Shoes gala every year and were excited to bring back this annual event in 2021. While the event looked a little different last year, we were so thankful to gather again as a community, both in person and online. Thanks to the amazing efforts of the Governing Board, Board of Advocates, staff, and others, the digital campaign and in-person event raised over $280,000. A total of 387 contributions were made. Wow!

To those that supported their friends and family through the online campaign, thank you. To those that participated in the virtual auction, thank you. To everyone who came to the in-person event and experienced what it means “not to yield,” even to the weather, thank you!

We also want to share a special shout out to our sponsors and other champions.

COBS's 2021 Supporters

From all of us at COBS, we want to thank all our 2021 donors. You make changing lives through challenge and discovery possible. Add your name to this list by making a donation to COBS today.

Impact Reports from previous years: 2020  | 2019 | 20182017

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