“Instead of a sweet 16, I asked for an Outward Bound course”

By Alana Noble, Outward Bound and Springside Chestnut Hill Academy Alum

Along my time involved with Outward Bound, I’ve found more than a few things to hold true and firm. Above all else, I always find myself coming back. Although in each course you find yourself amongst strangers, by the end you become a family. The ability to put yourself onto the same plane as those around you forces a kind of equilibrium uncommon at the start of each course. I began my time with Outward Bound during the summer of my sophomore year. Instead of throwing me a sweet sixteen, I asked for an Outward Bound course. I felt like it’d be more fun than throwing a party with a bunch of kids I see every day. To take part on a course is really more of a gift to yourself. Yes, it’s dirty. Who cares? Yes, it’s gritty, who cares? Obviously my almost 16-year old self didn’t. I am also an alum of a 5-day Appalachian trail excursion with other students at SCH.

In the first few days on course, I just asked everyone the same question: tell me about yourself? With each time I had asked, each answer differed from the next, but one thing that didn’t was that this was a new experience. It was a new experience for everyone aboard that ship. Although we were all strangers, we needed each other to survive the remainder of the 14 days.

After the course-end, I realized a valuable lesson that my instructors never really mentioned but hinted at (sometimes blazingly): It’s not about what an individual can do for the group but its what the group can do for the group.

Outward bound taught me not only how to be a team player but also to be a leader and to have faith in myself.

A reoccurring theme within each Outward Bound endeavor is grit and tenacity. The ability to get back up ten times after falling down nine. To me, Outward Bound is also about optimism. Not that I don’t think I’ll ever fall down after getting back up but that with each recovery comes a perspective to look at things. I learned that if I get tripped up by a branch in my way the only thing to do is just move it for the person walking behind you. I also learned on my course that when life gives you lemons, ask the person next to you for help making the lemonade.

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