"We would guard and defend and save the wilderness as a place for all who wish to rediscover the lost pleasures of adventure - adventure not only in the physical sense, but also mental, spiritual, moral, aesthetic, and intellectual adventure. A place for the free." This quote by Edward Abbey aptly describes the essence of an Outward Bound course.
Two summers ago I had the opportunity to experience an Outward Bound adventure. The experience freed me to understand my strengths and enabled me to make new commitments. It taught me compassion and responsibility by working with others at sea and on land. My trip began in Rockland, Maine, with our group of teens assembled on the front lawn of the boat house. It was silent, because we had all come alone which meant leaving friends and family behind and setting sail with a group of strangers.
The course I participated in focused on sailing and rock climbing which meant directing our leadership and group skills to mastering the basics of seamanship. From Rockland we set out on a 30-foot boat for a full week of sailing. We sailed and rowed during the day and slept on the boat at night. For protection from rain and mosquitoes we covered the boat with a tarp. Navigation also played a key part in our trip for Maine's rocky coastline, which, although beautiful, is dangerous to vessels such as ours.
After one week of sailing we docked for the second week at Hurricane Island in Penobscot Bay. Here we were taught to be aware of ourselves and our surroundings and live with understanding and respect for the delicate balance of ecosystems and wildlife habitats. Many intense and challenging activities awaited us at the island including rock climbing, repelling, and a ropes course. At the end our stay we each had our "solo." This was the most powerful experience I have ever had. Being dropped off on an isolated island for four days by yourself may not sound like fun to the everyday person, but to an Outward Bound graduate, it brings back memories - memories of rest and reflection and the opportunity to think about life's choices and possibilities.
The final week of the course was called our final expedition. It was a true opportunity for us to utilize the skills we had learned. Our very difficult goal was to sail the boat 50 miles back with no help from our instructors.
I can honestly say that this course was the best experience of my life. When I reflect on my achievements, the words "To Serve To Strive And Not To Yield" come to mind, for this is the Outward Bound motto. I value the friends I made and the skills I learned. If you are up to a challenge, this
may be the right choice for you.
I guarantee that it will change
your life. @
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.