Finding Purpose Through Outward Bound

Reflecting on his three years as a field instructor at Philadelphia Outward Bound School, Cole Corrigan shared with us just how transformative this work is.

When Cole was 22, he had dropped out of school and was working at a bar, when he decided to go on a soul-searching journey to South America. His sister had been working for this organization called Outward Bound . . . and Cole ruminated on this idea throughout his travels. He was well aware of the commitment the job required, the hard work and long hours in the field – but when he returned, he came back with a strong conviction that working with Outward Bound was the next step he needed to take in his life.

Cole knows first-hand that the impact of Outward Bound goes far beyond the students we serve. “This work has drastically changed the way I look at challenge in my own life. It feels like you practice what you preach -- it’s as if wanting to give people those opportunities and experiences helps you with your own struggle.

For Cole, “Being a person of color, and having the students see a person of color in this kind of role, I felt was very important.” He gets a lot of letters from students -- but one in particular stands out. “There was this one student that struggled so much throughout the course, and had voiced this perspective of ‘I’m black, I’m not meant to be out here.’ And afterwards, he wrote me a letter saying that it’s really cool to see someone who looks like me out here doing this. And how even if it didn’t seem like it, he kept trying his hardest on course for that reason.

Sometimes, all it takes to make a whole season of hard work worth it, is for one student to say, “you changed my life.

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