Thank you Vivian (recent alumna from CCWA-822, an all girls alpine backpacking course) for the eloquent and impactful letter! Many of us have returned home from a COBS course and struggled to find words to the question “how was it?” For all the family and friends back home, perhaps this young woman’s words may help expand on your newly returned alum’s tacit response. Or if you really want to know, we’ve got a course for you as well!
Dear Outward Bound,
First I’d like to thank you for the wonderful 8-day course I just had this week. It was truly an incredible thing that I experienced and I’m glad I went. Second, your course helped me realize some deep [things] about life. Today I was watching Boyhood again (Highly recommended) and I had some sort of epiphany. The gist of Boyhood is a boy growing up in a movie from age 6 to age 18. And the thing about the movie is that it choreographs all the little things in the boy’s life that aren’t these giant milestones. Just the small things and memories we remember in our childhood. That’s when it struck me.
Outward Bound is like that as well. Why? Let me explain. On the way back home from the airport, my parents were asking me what I did on the course. I said the classic, “We hiked up a mountain at 3 in the morning” and “we ate dehydrated humus!” But really, what I was thinking about when they asked me how it was, was the journey. How we hiked the mountain at 3 in the morning or how it felt to backpack.
See, life is like that too. In life, we talk about the milestones- first word, first lost tooth, first crush. But when you think about life, it is really about the people you meet, the memories you make, and the little moments you can’t forget. Not the big milestones. Outward Bound, in it’s own way, is a metaphor for life. You hike mountains, you reach the top, and you’re proud. But the real thing that you remember about Outward Bound is the journey. How you got to the top of the mountain. How cold your fingers were, and you just kept trooping.
I’m just about 13. In 5 short years, I’m going to be thrust into a big, confusing, scary world. Outward Bound has helped me not only grow stronger in so many ways, but realize that life itself is not just a string of milestones, but a unique journey that is different for every person. That the things we carry with us on our journey aren’t random events that correspond with a calendar. They are little snippets of life that define who we are. Outward Bound is the launchpad, a little prep system for the big confusing world. It teaches us how to live and appreciate different things we endure rather than just getting to the top of a mountain. To appreciate the beauty around us and to stop and breathe.
Thank you Outward Bound. Believe it or not, you have truly changed me and my outlook on life. We all travel up different mountains in life, with different things we carry, and different memories. But we are all together. And all of us don’t just think of being on top of the mountain. We think about the way we went and how it was. That’s life. Thank you Outward Bound. I won’t forget what I learned. I hope I can do another course soon!
(student of Annie, Jess, & Grayson)