Is Summit Achievement like Outward Bound?

On a regular bases the Summit admissions team is asked, “Are you like Outward Bound?”

Our response is “Yes and no”.


We respond “Yes” as Outward Bound and Summit Achievement combine experiential education and outdoor education programs to help young people create change in their lives. Both organizations are strongly committed to assisting young people grow to be better people and contributors to their families and communities. Both organizations utilize multi-day expeditions with high quality gear led by qualified and highly trained guide staff to help give young people the guidance they need to grow as individuals as well as being part of a team.

Both organizations see the multiple challenges facing youth today and strongly feel that being outdoors and participating in adventurous activities is good for the mind, body and soul. These are the underpinnings of both of our organizations.

One of the influences of both organizations was Kurt Hahn who founded Outward Bound in 1941. Hahn gave a lecture in 1960 that identified the following “social diseases that Outward Bound addresses”:

  • There is the decline in fitness due to the modern methods of locomotion.
  • The decline in initiative, due to the widespread disease of spectatoritis.
  • The decline in care and skill, due to the weakened tradition of craftsmanship.
  • The decline in self-discipline, due to the ever-present availability of tranquilizers and stimulants.
  • The decline of compassion, which William Temple called “spiritual death.”

At Summit we see many of the same challenges for youth enrolling in our program that Hahn identified many years ago. Many are struggling with physical health as they are no longer or never committed to being physically healthy. Others are losing initiative as they spend far too much time looking at technology (spectatoritis).

Many are unable to put the skills together to take care of themselves or others. Some students exhibit a lack of self-discipline and others struggle with substance use. All benefit from structured activities with competent leaders assisting them. We also add to the mix licensed mental health professionals and accredited academics.

Several of Summit Achievements founding team were former Outward Bound instructors and program directors in the late 1980’s. They decided to take what they learned at Outward Bound and add a clinically sophisticated mental health program and a vigorous academic program.


Summit is a licensed residential treatment program that provides mental health treatment by licensed mental health professionals. Outward Bound is an experiential learning organization that does not address mental health issues.

Outward Bound works with over 200,000 students in a year and operates all over the world including a sailing based program in Maine called Hurricane Island Outward Bound. Summit Achievement works with around 100 students in a year and operates only in Maine.

Outward Bound has fixed length courses which mean the programs start and end on certain days while Summit can enroll a student any week and the length of stay is dependent on progress in the program.

Summit Achievement is accredited as an Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare Program while Outward Bound programs are accredited in many ways but not as an Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare program.

Summit Achievement is influenced by Kurt Hahn and Outward Bound and we are grateful for the influence. While Summit is influenced by Outward Bound we also have other influences.

Like Kurt Hahn once said, “In education, as in medicine, you must harvest the wisdom of a thousand years. If you ever come across a surgeon and he wants to extract your appendix in the most original manner possible, I would strongly advise you to go to another surgeon.”

Summit Achievement harvested the wisdom of a thousand years including the wisdom/influence of Outward Bound as well as many others!