ISB Co’ 25 undergo a transformational Experiential Learning Programme with OWLS

OWLS Adventures > Experiential learning > ISB Co’ 25 undergo a transformational Experiential Learning Programme with OWLS

On a chilly Saturday evening, a bunch of enthusiastic students from the ISB Class of 25 arrived at Barsu and embarked on a thrilling journey in the Himalayas. For most of them,  it was their first exposure to rural life. While a handful had explored Himalayan treks before, the majority arrived curious to discover the unknown. Their adventurous journey soon turned into a self-discovery over three days. 

The escape to the Himalayas was a part of the OWLS Experiential Learning Programme for the incoming students of the ISB Class of 2025. It was designed with one objective – to connect on a deeper level before they head to a competitive environment in their respective campuses in ISB Hyderabad and Mohali. The programme was initiated by students and conceptualized and executed by OWLS. 

This is a story of what unfolded during the exhilarating three-day Experiential Learning Programme (ELP) when India’s top B School entrants traverse the highlands of the Himalayas on a transformational journey. 

Objective of the OWLS Experiential Learning Programme 

ISB students in Dayara Bugyal

A few students from ISB Co of 25 approached OWLS to curate an outdoor experience. The objective was to connect before heading to their respective Hyderabad and Mohali campuses. 

Their objective was to be a part of the ice-breaking sessions in the mountains. As management students, they will spend a year on the same campus. Building strong connections before embarking on an ISB journey was their sole objective from the programme” shared Anagha Parate, Outdoor Facilitator and designer of the OWLS Experiential Learning Programme for ISB class of 25. 

When the students approached us to design this programme, our primary goal was to curate meaningful experiences. We chose Dayara Bugyal Trek in Uttarakhand as a learning ground for ISB Co’ 25.  OLWS use the outdoors as a platform to create impactful experiences, especially when it’s a large group of students. The impact of learning through experiences amidst nature is profound. The facilitators connect the dots between what they learn here to everyday life by asking powerful questions, indulging in meaningful conversations, and deep thinking and learning backed by an element of joy. The lesson they learn here while stepping out of their comfort zone translates to everyday life. 

Conceptualizing the programme

The OWLS ELP was conducted at breathtaking Dayara Bugyal in Uttarakhand. The framework was thoughtfully curated by Dr. Anagha Parate(Outdoor Leader) and Himanshu Singla (Founder, OWLS) for the incoming students of the ISB Class of 2025.

“ISB students had a distinct objective – fostering connections with batchmates before heading to the campus while enjoying the majestic mountains of Dayara Bugyal. To align with this objective, we meticulously planned our activities. Each activity was tailored to enhance team dynamics, leadership acumen, camaraderie, self-reflection, decision-making prowess, and risk-taking ability,” remarked Himanshu. 

Students were divided into three groups – Kalanag, Bandarpooch and Shrikanth to ensure the effective impact of the activities. The programme focused on an element of joy-based learning. 

Incorporating learning through OWLS activities 

OWLS Experiential Learning Programme targets specific areas through our thoughtfully curated activities. We emphasise learning through real-life situations. The activities were diligently orchestrated to create disequilibrium and immerse participants in challenging scenarios. As our playground was outdoors, nature assumed the mentor role, fostering profound learning experiences and renewed perspectives. 

ISB students at Chilapada Campsite

Himanshu opines that exposing participants to the unpredictability of the wilderness pushes them from the safe comfort space and hones decision-making ability, prompts reflection and cultivates curiosity. 

“Our activities are designed to facilitate meaningful conversations, and reflective thoughts while expanding their perspectives. We believe Outdoor holds the power to transform us in various ways, and the lesson we learn here can be seamlessly translated into everyday life, imbuing each moment with significance and purpose. 

Here is a sneak peek into OWLS’ Experiential Learning Programme activities 

Finding Your Trail in the Wild 

Participants are tasked to discover their trail and reach the campsite. Each team engages collectively to find the right solution ensuring better communication between the team members. 

Survival Fire

This activity is conducted teamwise. Each team is provided with a survival fire kit, comprising flint, wood scraps, threads, paper, and twigs. The task is to light the fire and sustain it for more than 30 seconds.

Skills Targeted through the activity – Team Building, Decision Making, Analytical Thinking, Leadership Acumen Team bonding, and foresightedness. 

Planning the Summit

On the second day, the students have a task to plan their summit climb. Right from rationing their snacks to wisely using their water reserve, the students engage in extensive plans to reach the summit as a team. 

Such activities require participants to collaborate and devise a plan to explore the trail together. the primary focus of these activities is to immerse participants in team-building endeavours.  they learn to value each individual’s input, and respect differences of opinions. A collective effort to discover a trail to the campsite fosters a sense of camaraderie. 

What happened on the trail 

“Stepping out of your comfort zone disrupts the way you function. It often leads to changes in your perspectives towards life and the people around you. Outdoor is an uncomfortable and unpredictable zone, here nature controls your emotions. As many of them are exposed to such a challenging trail for the first time, an upheaval in their mind and body becomes obvious,” asserts Anagha while sharing her observations from the trail. 

As they braved knee-deep snow and traversed a difficult uphill trail, we witnessed the excitement turning into despair. While a few easily navigated steep ascents, many struggled as nature threw adversity and challenges. On the trail, there was magic in things beyond the snow-covered meadows and an adventurous trail. It was in the bonds forged, in the leaders unearthed, and in the realization of dormant potentials. 

The victory at the summit 

The walk to the summit started on a bright morning from Chilapada Campsite. Mesmerising views of the Himalayas had compensated for the exhausting trail tackled by the students. Each team was ready to climb. As the trail traversed a steep ascent amidst the forest section, we witnessed beautiful bonds deepening between participants. Yesterday’s hunger for reaching the summit first was replaced by reaching the summit together, all 30 of them. 

The person leading the trail ensured the last member was keeping up. There was a collective effort to encourage everyone to reach the summit. As they set foot on the Dayara summit, they were amazed to witness what lay in front of them. Dayara Bugyal was enwrapped in a powdery white sheet of fresh snow. The towering peaks of Gangotri, Bandarpooch, Kalanag, and Shrikanth appeared dreamy.

This exact moment captured what OWLS Experiential Learning Programmes aim for – Collective efforts, team bonding and meaningful experiences. All 30 of them held hands, celebrated the successful summit climb, and sang atop Dayara Bugyal with mountain gods bearing witness to these surreal moments and bestowing them with stunning views. 

Why Outdoor is an impactful learning ground

Outdoor is an unfamiliar zone, where people unite to face common challenges, forging lifelong bonds. make bonds that stay for life. Activities such as building survival fires, navigating trails, and planning the summit climb act as catalysts for enhanced team dynamics.   

Outdoor cultivates improved decision-making ability, empathy, and camaraderie among the participants. Here, amidst nature, everyone stands on equal ground, Back in the classroom Here, in nature, everyone is equal. While the closed classroom focuses on technical and theoretical language, the outdoors immerses us in the language of wilderness. This impacts behaviour changes and facilitates a transforming journey for each one of the students.  

Why outdoor learning programmes are beneficial for management students 

Management students derive significant benefits from OWLS experiential learning programmes facilitated in the outdoors amidst nature. 

Conducting an ice-breaking session in the Outdoors in a practical setting ensures impactful results compared to an experience in a simulated environment. 

Unlike simulated environments, where individuals may conceal their true selves, the outdoors throws participants into real situations, eliciting genuine reactions and revealing their inherent traits. Consequently, students not only confront real-life challenges but also engage in peer-to-peer learning, honing essential skills such as decision-making, leadership, teamwork, and people management qualities.

As mountains are known for unpredictable weather situations, facing adversity on the trail enhances their problem-solving capabilities while instilling a reflective mindset, empowering them to navigate complexities confidently in both personal and professional spheres.

The reflections 

Reflection session is a crucial part of OWLS’ Outdoor Programme. After a day-long hike and series of activities participants gather in groups for reflections and analyse the day 

Reflecting on a day spent is the backbone of learning through experiences. A person rushes through an array of emotions and unprecedented experiences while navigating an unfamiliar path. An effort to recollect the day, and ponder over those emotions equips participants to discover renewed perspectives about themselves. Connecting the experiences in the wild to everyday life helps them replicate the learning and have a wider approach to tackling the challenges. 

“In every ELP batch, we endeavour to introduce innovative methods for reflections. During these Outdoor Programmes, it is amazing to see how the reflection sessions, bring out beautiful thoughts and diverse opinions. 

“We encourage the participants to explore different trails and make an impact, but some of them do complain about how difficult the trail is. However, the power of the outdoors changes them deeply and they leave with numerous takeaways. The objective of the reflection is to connect these takeaways from the outdoors to their everyday life. The meaningfulness of the experience becomes evident on the day the programme concludes as they start appreciating small things and valuing human attributes more,” shares Himanshu while talking about the importance of elaborate reflection sessions.


As we watched the last sunset in Barsu Village while celebrating the successful summit climb, one thing was clear: this wasn’t just a trek; it was a testament to the power of experiential learning, where nature and its unpredictability became the ultimate teacher, and every challenge acted as an opportunity for participants to connect as a team. There was a sense of pride, inert potentials were unearthed and friendships were forged and the aim that ISB Co’25 proposed was visible in conversations that reverberated in the dining hall. A transformational journey they embarked on helped them deepen their bonds. A group of mere acquaintances proceed to their respective campuses with memories and experiences that will bind them as true adventure awaits in the Indian School of Business, Mohali and Hyderabad.

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