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What is Crew?

Crew is the signature advisory and community-building structure in all NYC Outward Bound Schools. Crew is both a structure that encourages academic and social-emotional growth as well as a school-wide culture. The spirit of “We are crew, not passengers” — a phrase coined by Outward Bound founder Kurt Hahn — is evident in the school communities we work with, where students and educators practice empathy and compassion, look out for one another and work toward shared goals.

As an advisory structure, Crews are teams of 8-16 students led by an adult Crew Advisor, often a teacher. Crews focus on building essential academic and social-emotional skills through a combination of team building, student-centered academic support, conflict resolution and self-reflection.

Crews meet multiple times per week, and in many schools, a Crew will stay intact for several years. In addition to supporting academic development, Crew helps foster a sense of belonging — ensuring students are welcomed, valued and part of a culturally responsive community. Each student is well known by at least one adult in the school and well cared for by a group of peers.

What Happens in Crew?

Crew time consists of a series of lessons and activities complemented by rituals and routines that are drawn from NYC Outward Bound Schools’ best practices. Ultimately, Crew creates more equitable spaces where each students’ unique ideas and needs are heard and addressed.

For example, during Crew, students and advisors discuss academic, social, and behavioral issues, organize work for student portfolios or culminating projects, and engage in activities aimed at strengthening academic performance and building social-emotional skills such as perseverance, initiative and empathy.

Every school should adopt the NYC Outward Bound Schools model of building critical relationships to make sure that kids know that they’re never alone, and that we do everything we can to meet the needs of the whole child.

Mark Treyger

NYC Council Member & Chair of the Education Committee

Sample Crew Learning Targets

  • I can work with my Crew members to develop our own norms, rituals, and culture.
  • I can reflect on the behavioral and academic progress I have made and articulate areas for growth.
  • I can describe what it means to practice empathy, integrity, respect, and compassion.
  • I can practice leadership to help create a thriving school community.
  • I can use conflict resolution tools to effectively communicate.
  • I can make ethical choices that positively contribute to my community.
  • I can apply what I learn in Crew to help me succeed in my classes and my life.

Crew Two Ways

We offer two distinctive pathways of Crew implementation — a one-on-one coaching model and a cohort-based model. Which is right for your school?

School Coaching

Each Crew program is customized at the school level to meet the individual and varied goals of each school. NYC Outward Bound Schools’ staff work with Crew Advisors to help them further customize the sequence and build the skills they need to effectively lead their Crews. 

For more information on implementing Crew as a Select Strategy, contact Badari Ambatti, Director of Client Relations, at [email protected] or (718) 706-9900 x 125.

Crew Initiative

Schools that apply for and are accepted into our Crew Initiative cohort work with a dedicated Crew Coach to assess their needs and build the capacity to implement Crew. They also participate in monthly cohort convenings with other Crew Initiative schools.

For more information on joining Crew Initiative, contact Jessica Bardy, Director of Strategic Partnerships, at [email protected] or (718) 706-9900 x130. 

See Our Other Shared Practices:

Select Strategy: Student-Engaged Assessment

Student-engaged assessment is a strategy that helps students understand and take ownership of their own growth as learners. Learn more.

Select Strategy: Project-Based Learning

Project-Based Learning is a teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to an authentic, engaging, and complex question, problem, or challenge. Learn more.

Outdoor Adventure

We offer safe, fun and engaging Outdoor Adventure programming to students and educators. These programs range from one-day community-building workshops in city parks to multi-day adventures at our basecamp in Fishkill, NY. Learn more.

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