Ok, yes, I know, I said I was out of town and wouldn’t be updating, but I had some time this afternoon, and decided ten bucks for Internet access in my hotel room was probably worth for me to get back in touch with the world.
I found this article over at National Geographic Adventure to be very interesting and sad at the same time. It tells the tale of Elisa Santry, a 16 year-old girl from Boston who was a member of the Outward Bound Program. She was participating in a 22 day hike across southern Utah when she went missing. After searching for her for hours, the guides and other members of her team found her dead on the trail, her pack still on her back.
Elisa’s death opens a lot of questions about the 46 year old program that is amongst the best known youth wilderness training programs in the United States. But how did one of these young people get left behind on the trail? How come no one noticed until they stopped to make camp? And how did she get into a position where her life was threatened while hiking? Were there signs of her struggling on the trail? If so, why were they ignored?
The article notes that this isn’t the first death in the Outward Bound Program. In fact there have been 24 fatalities in it’s history, despite claims that safety is the number one concern. Of course, this has put the spotlight clearly on the leadership of the organization, and their policies for taking care of the young men and women in their care.
I don’t know about you, but for a program that has been around for 46 years, 24 deaths seems like a lot! That’s more than 1 every two years over the course of the life of the program, although it should be noted that this is the first death in ten years. Lets hope that some changes are made and good judgement prevails here, but those questions remain, and someone needs to answer them.
Thanks for the tip on this one Ryan!
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