Students and families frequently write us after they return home from Outward Bound and start transferring what they learned on their course to their lives. Every so often, we receive a testimonial so true to the spirit of Outward Bound that we read it to all of the staff present at Homeplace. Iggy Perillo (a fifteen-year veteran of Outward Bound) recently shared one such letter from Bridget McBride, one of her former students at the Outward Bound Portland Center. Bridget’s words could just as well describe an experience in Minnesota, so we thought you might appreciate them as well:
“A lot of people don’t know this, but I home-schooled until I moved to Oregon six years ago. I was so sheltered that the first day of middle school was the first day I walked across a parking lot by myself without holding anybody’s hand. It’s hard to believe that in the last two years I have rappelled the side of cliffs, traveled by myself, whitewater rafted, and learned to push myself farther than I ever thought possible.
I have had the opportunity to meet and observe the kind of leadership that encourages growth, helps you expect the best from yourself, and makes you feel like you are an important part of a whole community.
During this last year especially, which turned out to be one of the hardest years of my life, these people, and these experiences were a lot of what I fell back on, and I owe a huge debt of gratitude to them. In case you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m talking about the Outward Bound Portland Center program. Because of this program I have learned what I am capable of, I have learned to find a kinship with people I likely never would have connected with, and I’ve learned that delicate balance between pushing myself and nurturing myself. I have a better idea of what I can possibly offer the world. And I know I am much more capable of making the world a better place because of this program and the people in it.
The skills I learned weren’t just wilderness skills; they were human skills–coping skills, people skills–these will affect every person I and all of my fellow teammates will meet over the years. And all of you who support this program, please understand that you aren’t just helping a few kids that might be in this program. You are also helping the future bosses, spouses, children, and maybe even students that each Outward Bound student will meet for the rest of their lives.
I know what you do takes faith. You plant a seed and walk away. And maybe you never see the tree that grows there, that makes the air better and makes the world better. Just know that somewhere far off it does indeed stand.
It is tempting to measure a successful Outward Bound course by the number of knots students learn, the speed they paddle, or whether their clothes stay dry when it rains. As Bridget McBride reminds us, however, Outward Bound’s true value lies in helping people discover they are more confident, capable, and ready to face life’s challenges than they previously thought possible.
Regardless of who you are or where you are from, there is an Outward Bound course at Voyageur Outward Bound School that is right for you. Take a peak at our programs and discover why we are the leading provider of experiential and outdoor education programs for youth and adults.