By: Sarrah Schreffler, Outward Bound Alumn and Senior at SCH Academy
My love for Outward Bound first began in the fall of 2010, and since then, I have been on 4 expeditions: 3 Peer Leadership backpacking and rock climbing expeditions with my school and the 2012 Youth Leadership Corps Expedition. I was a freshman in high school when I was given the opportunity to apply for my first course. It was a five-day backpacking expedition that was offered to 9th and 10th graders, as sort of a “trial run”, to test out my school’s newly formed relationship with Outward Bound. As cliché as it sounds, that week spent along the Appalachian Trail changed my life and got me forever hooked on Outward bound. I have been on that same trip three times, and each time I leave wanting to do it all over again. Though each trip comes with its individual challenges, the satisfaction that one feels after completing it is unrivaled. I have never finished an Outward Bound expedition and felt that it was not worth every struggle and every bit of pain that went with it.
During my sophomore year, after I had gone on the same 5-day school trip twice, I decided that it was time for me to push my limits, and apply for a trip that was longer and not organized through school. I applied for a 2-week youth-leadership program that was half hiking and half canoeing. Not only was this the first course that I would not get snowed on, but it was also the first time I would be with a majority of people I didn’t know. Apart from two students that I knew on the trip, I was about to venture into the woods for two weeks with a group of 10 total strangers. Not knowing the people that we had to rely on for the duration of the trip only took each of the students on the trip further outside of our comfort zone and challenged us in a positive way. Of course, there were times where we disagreed or fought with one another, but the most challenging times on an Outward Bound are the ones that make the trip completely worth it in the end.
I get asked all the time why I love Outward Bound so much, and why I keep coming back for more. My answer to this question is neither deep nor complicated: I love going on Outward Bound expeditions because each one its own adventure. There is something to be said for leaving your phone, computer, and troubles at home and fully dedicating yourself to hiking, cooking, and the wellbeing of your group. To anyone considering applying for an outward-bound trip, my advice, of course, would be to abandon any anxieties you have and to go for it. You don’t have to be “out-doorsy” to enjoy and benefit from an outward-bound expedition. All you need to have is a positive attitude and the drive to make your course the best it can be, and I can assure you that your time will not be wasted.