Exactly one year ago today I took part in one of the most amazing experiences in my life to date. I wasn’t too sure what I was in for, I was excited (and not just because I had eight days off work) but because I was about to do something far outside of my comfort zone. I can now add Outward Bound to the résumé.
With high expectations, nerves and a sense of excitement, I cautiously arrived at the Picton ferry terminal in the Marlborough Sounds. I was fortunate to receive a Jaycee Outward Bound scholarship through Advance Ashburton Community Foundation for an 8-day Discovery Course.
Nervous meet and greets followed, complete with learning 15 strangers names as quickly as possible. Add a few icebreaker games and Batton Watch 475 was all set to embark on a very exciting journey together. The 8-day Discovery course is one of the many different courses available, designed for people aged between 27 and 40. Whether you are after a wilderness experience, a teenager seeking a new course in life, or an adult professional taking a moment to reflect on the road they’re taking, there is a course to suit everyone.
Complete strangers come together and are presented with activities that challenge them both mentally and physically, and, ideally, their shared experience creates a strong bond and lasting memories. Outward Bound is known to push many boundaries, step people far outside their comfort zones and challenge them in ways they never thought possible. This definitely happened right from the start where we hoped into a cutter and sailed out of Picton harbour (think Team NZ at the beginning of the America’s cup!). Over the next eight days we took part in many activities that pushed each of us to our own personal limits. With the outdoors as the main catalyst I learned to kayak, use a compass (ha!), rock climb, plus many other skills that have helped me in my days since. To spend eight days based in the Sounds with no access to communication was absolute bliss.
One aspect of the course is to do a ‘solo’ mission, two nights in the bush all by yourself with minimal food, a sleeping bag and tarp. Not only was I forced to overcome my fear of opossums, but I also wrote a letter to myself which was sent to me six months later. Addressed ‘Hi Hollie’, signed ‘Love Hollie’, this letter contained approximately 80% of absolute bullshit (still haven’t got that tattoo), with the remaining 20% still making some sense. I created a list of things I wanted to do over the next five years, and one of those was to compete in the Coast to Coast. So all going to plan I can start ticking off the list!
I would recommend Outward Bound to anyone, young or old. If the cost is an issue there are many scholarships out there, it’s just a matter of getting off your butt and giving it a go.
There is more to us than we know. If we can be made to see it, perhaps for the rest of our lives we will be unwilling to settle for less.
— Kurt Hahn, Founder Outward Bound