Outward Bound Minnesota: An Exploratory Ethnography


  • Geneviève Marchand Coastal Carolina University


There is probably enough evidence now to support the ongoing reports of high turnover rates among outdoor leaders. The latest studies of field staff in wilderness therapy suggest a turnover rate as high as five months up to twelve months (Kirby, 2006; Marchand, Russell  & Cross, 2009). In a study of outdoor education centers, over 1/3 of leaders had been there for less than one year, and most of them said they would move away from their employment before five years (Barnes, 1999). The job demands of working as an outdoor leader are one possible reason leading to rapid turnover (Marchand, 2009). While some studies have looked at the reasons leading to turnover, there are also some factors that contribute to the retention of outdoor leaders. This ethnography was used to investigate the organizational culture of Outward Bound Minnesota (OBM) and the factors contributing to the successful retention of their outdoor leaders.