Josh Miner
Monday June 17, 2024

Josh Miner '43 Leadership Development & Education

Josh Miner '43 Experiential Education Award

Josh is remembered annually at Reunions throught the Josh Miner ’43 Experiential Education Award was initiated by the Friends of Outdoor Action Board in 1995. The award is named in honor of Josh Miner of the Princeton Class of 1943. As a founding trustee of Outward Bound, Josh Miner was instrumental in bringing the philosophy of Kurt Hahn to the U.S. and in establishing the first U.S. Outward Bound Schools. In celebration of Josh’s significant influence on the development of experiential education in the U.S.A., the Miner Award is presented each year to a graduate of Princeton University who has provided outstanding leadership in the fields of experiential or outdoor education. To continue the tradition of experiential learning at Princeton, the award winner serves as a member of a panel on experiential education held at Princeton. A certificate is presented to the award winner.

Throughout his life Josh was a champion of outdoor education and leadership development. His role as the founding trustee of Outward Bound planted the seed from which OA developed years later. The qualities of leadership which form the Outward Bound ideal ("To serve, to strive, and not to yield") are most embodied in the OA Leader Training Program where students are challenged to develop their leadership abilities through rigorous training and through leading other students on wilderness trips.

Josh and his wife Phebe were great supporter of the Outdoor Action Program and Josh made a generous gift to OA before his death. His goal was for the funds to support student leadership development and education. In order to maintain the excellence of the OA Leader Training Program additional funds are needed annually. Our goal is to expand his gift to become an endowed fund to provide ongoing support for the Outdoor Action Leadership Training Program.

For additional information, please contact the Outdoor Action Office (609) 258-5621.


Josh Miner '43

We are all saddened by the death of Josh Miner who gave so much to the field of outdoor education. This message about Josh was sent out by Outward Bound on February 1, 2002.

Dear Outward Bound USA Trustees, Advisors, Staff and Friends,

It is with a profound sense of loss that we write to inform you of the death of Joshua L. Miner III, the founder of Outward Bound USA, at the age of 81. Josh passed away peacefully yesterday at his home in Andover, MA with his wife, Phebe, and eldest son, Josh IV, by his side. A memorial service will be planned for February.

As we mourn the passing of a great friend, we must also celebrate his full and rich life as a visionary educator, noted advocate for youth, and World War II hero. In the early 1950s, Josh was inspired by the philosophy and educational approach of Kurt Hahn while teaching under him at the Gordonstoun School in Scotland. Over the next decade, and with the support of many other inspired individuals, Josh founded the Outward Bound movement in the United States, based upon the principles of experiential learning through outdoor adventure.

From the establishment of the Colorado Outward Bound School in 1961, Outward Bound has developed into a nationwide system of wilderness schools and urban centers, and has spawned the proliferation of an entire outdoor education industry. Today, there are well over 600, possibly as many as 1,000, U.S. schools, universities, agencies and other institutions that use the Outward Bound philosophy and its techniques in their programs. Josh always urged us to celebrate these 'imitators' rather than fear them as competitors. For him, the greatest satisfaction lay in seeing a student, "discover that through trying day to day he could do much better than he dared to dream." Plus Est en Vous. There is More in You. Josh's probing blue eyes always saw the "more" in each person he encountered, the "more" that we could become as individuals and as part of our community. Josh was proud of Outward Bound's evolution, not only into a successful group of wilderness schools (Colorado, Hurricane Island, Voyageur, North Carolina and Pacific Crest), but also into vital urban centers in New York City, Boston, Atlanta, Baltimore and Philadelphia. More recently, he was pleased with the establishment and success of Expeditionary Learning Outward Bound, a public school design program currently in over 115 schools across the country. From Josh's perspective, Outward Bound was coming full circle, back to its roots in the educational philosophy of Kurt Hahn.


Frances A. Rubacha. Outward Bound USA Chairman.

John C. Read. Outward Bound USA Interim President.

Born in Plainfield, N.J., Miner attended Phillips Exeter Academy and Princeton. During World War II, he served as a battery commander and captain in General George Patton’s 696th Armored Field Army, earning the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star, five Combat Stars and the Croix de Guerre.

After the war, he worked at the Hun School in Princeton, N.J., and at the Gordonstoun School in Scotland, whose headmaster, Kurt Hahn, had founded Outward Bound.

Miner joined the PA faculty in 1952 and served as a physics teacher, housemaster, and coach of football, basketball and baseball, but in 1964 he interrupted his Andover career to bring the concepts of Outward Bound to the United States. He devoted eight years to building the organization’s American operations as a founding trustee and chairman. The program now encompasses five wilderness schools nationwide and urban centers in New York and Boston, attracting nearly 40,000 students a year. In its notation of Miner’s death, Time magazine reported that 600,000 U.S. students, including former president Jimmy Carter, have taken the course.

Returning to Andover as dean of admissions from 1972–1985, Miner was the academy’s first contact with thousands of students. Many have reported that, under strict numerical criteria, they might not have gained admission, but Miner always seemed willing to “take a chance” on an applicant in whom he saw a special spark of potential. As letters poured in during his illness, family members reported, many began with the words, “You don’t know me, but you changed my life.”

At PA, Miner also devised the ninth grade physical education course, including a ropes program and drown-proofing techniques still taught to all new students. Andover’s Search and Rescue program got its impetus from Miner’s work with Outward Bound, and he inaugurated the student service organization now known as Blue Key and helped shape PA’s student exchange with the Harbin Institute of Technology in China. He also started a program that funds trips to Andover for minority students who have been accepted to the academy and created a network of alumni recruiters.

Miner was the co-author of Outward Bound USA, published in 1981, and throughout his career he continued to scout sites and help design Outward Bound expeditions, undertaking physical challenges like mountain climbing and canoeing. He rafted the Green River in Utah every summer until a decade ago. In 1994, the organization designated its headquarters in Garrison, N.Y., as the Joshua L. Miner National Outward Bound Center.

Miner’s awards and public service commitments are too numerous to list. A director of the Andover Youth Center and a consultant on urban affairs to the Peace Corps and the Ford Foundation, he also served on a state committee for the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and on the 1970 White House Conference on Youth. He was a trustee of Boston’s Judge Baker Guidance Center, which focuses on juvenile delin-
quency research and treatment. Although interested in gardening, fly fishing, playing piano, painting, clock repair and beekeeping, he never ceased networking with folks he recognized as “kid people.” Right up to his final illness, he seized opportunities to meet with directors of innovative programs for kids—particularly kids whose needs were not met in the mainstream educational systems.

He is survived his wife, Phebe Stevens Miner; three sons, Joshua L. IV, John S. ’71 and Daniel G. ’73; two daughters, Phebe Miner Richards and Louise M. Miner; two brothers, Frank C. and Tom M.; nine grandchildren; and three stepgrandchildren.