Outward Bound is known for its adventurous approach to education. The first Outward Bound school opened in Wales during World War II to train British seamen. The idea of extending the concept to the wider population came from a pioneering German educator, Kurt Hahn, who believed experience was the most effective teaching technique. Ellen Chan Ling, marketing and fund-raising manager for Outward Bound Hong Kong, says the organisation remains very much focused on its early principles. 'Kurt Hahn believed that traditional academic studies could not, by themselves, help create well-rounded people. He wanted to introduce experiential training into the wider education system,' Ms Chan says. 'The approach was widely accepted. It developed momentum and spread throughout Europe and Asia.' Ms Chan says Outward Bound's experiential approach has been well appreciated in Hong Kong since the school set up here in 1970. 'Outward Bound is a development training school. We help people develop their character and build up confidence, motivation and responsibility. 'Through our courses, people improve their social skills, problem-solving ability and leadership.' Each year, about 6,000 mostly young Hong Kong people experience the thrills and challenges of an Outward Bound Hong Kong programme. Up to 120 people at a time can be accommodated at the charity group's Tai Mong Tsai base in Sai Kung, and an additional 48 can take part in programmes at the Wong Wan Chau island adventure camp. About 40 per cent of Outward Bound Hong Kong courses are for the public, 12 per cent for special groups, including the disabled, and the remainder a mix of school and corporate activities. The minimum group size for enrolment is eight to 10 people. 'Most of those on our courses are aged from eight to 35 or 40 years, but we can serve people up to age 65,' she says. Overseas, Outward Bound courses can run up to three months but in Hong Kong most are of two to 18 days in duration. 'Most of our corporate courses are short because companies these days do not want to be without staff for long periods. The corporate courses are mostly two- or three-day events that focus on team-building and leadership.' Public and school courses are typically five- to seven-day programmes, with school courses often held during holidays. Ms Chan says schools differ in programme requirements, but many seek courses designed to boost personal confidence, team work or leadership skills. Ms Chan says school enrolments are influenced by parental budgets; a typical five- to seven-day school course costs about HK$3,000. Although Outward Bound offers some funding support, international schools and elite local schools account for most school enrolments. She estimates that international schools comprise about 60 per cent of school programme enrolments and local schools 40 per cent. Outward Bound courses are designed to be challenging, but also fun. Hiking, rock climbing, and land and sea expeditions are undertaken by teams supervised by trained Outward Bound instructors. 'There are many types of courses, but all of them help people to develop their skills and attitudes through a structural, experiential process. 'They are given a series of tasks, including problems to solve, and they have to plan their team effort. They complete the tasks as a group and afterwards share and review their experiences. It gives them a new insight. They learn from the activity.' Outward Bound Hong Kong has a staff of about 60, including 30 instructors. These days, new Outward Bound trainers should be university graduates, a requirement introduced three years ago. Instructor candidates are expected to have some special appropriate outdoors skills, such as rock climbing or life-saving. The group's mission statement sums up its approach to life education: 'To help people discover and develop their potential to care for themselves, others and the world around them through challenging experiences in unfamiliar settings.' Besides improving physical fitness, Outward Bound courses aim to build self-reliance and a sense of connecting the individual to the group and society at large.