An Outward Bound Reflection by Siduri Beckman, Student at Masterman High School in Philadelphia and three-time POBS Expedition Alum.
When I was a little girl, my grandfather taught me how to fall. Falling was inevitable, he said; you weren’t always going to catch yourself. But if you fell in the right way, you wouldn’t hurt yourself, either.
Little did I know how much I would be using his advice a decade later on my trips up and down the vertical Appalachian Trail, complete with boulders and precarious footholds.
Outward Bound is not your everyday camping. There’s no room for self-pity, modern comfort or control freaks. You work together or you don’t work at all.
My generation has higher expectations than ever before: varsity athlete, straight As, saint-like volunteer with a thriving social life, 150 likes on your latest Instagram post to prove it. All of this is a build-up to what college you get into, what grad school, what job—things spin out of control pretty quickly.
Outward Bound takes you back to the basics — why we’re here. We’re here to live. Throwback Thursday to the caveman, who, just like us, had the ability to survive in the wilderness, an ability that hibernates deep within us—too deep. Homo Sapiens have been around for 200,000 years. Civilization has only been here 5,500. This is who we are.
Outward Bound presents you with tangible fears and very physical challenges that ground daydreamers like me back into our bodies. I’ve faced rattling rattlesnakes, hungry bears and midnight hikes. I’ve kept a fire going all night long when it was 25 degrees outside. I’ve had to steel myself to take one more step.
Outward Bound teaches you how to fall. Success is never guaranteed and plans change. People make mistakes. People get lost, for miles and for years. Outward Bound teaches you how to perceive failure and how to cherish the small things that we should celebrate as our successes in life. Failure is inevitable and it is a gift. It is the only thing in our busy bee lives that forces us to slow down and look at what happened.
Kurt Hahn once said, “Education must enable young people to effect what they have recognized to be right, despite hardships, despite dangers, despite inner skepticism, despite boredom, and despite mockery from the world.”
The maxims of Kurt Hahn have one thousand applications and the hundreds of men and women who devote their lives to teaching each of us how to fall, one at a time, are my personal heroes. Outward Bound has made me who I am today because I am not afraid. I am not afraid of what lies in the darkness beyond the shelter of my gaping tarp. I am not afraid of what the future holds. I am not afraid to fall.
Thank you for supporting the Philadelphia Outward Bound School so that I could experience this myself. Your involvement changes the lives of thousands of students each year. We couldn’t have this opportunity without you.