Noam’s Story: “He Came Back a Different Kid”

With guidance from an Outward Bound instructor, one student learns lessons in positivity

The email came from the parent of a 10th grade student who had been on a two-week expedition a few months ago: “I want you to know how much this program has meant to me and my boys. Noam actually came back a different kid.  I think Jeremy [the course instructor] had a huge impact on him. He taught him how to be a leader and how to avoid getting distracted.  Noam is more focused, and when upset he doesn’t drag everyone down, he controls it and works out a resolution.  It’s lovely to watch and I think it all started with his summer and the things he learned.”

Noam says his Outward Bound course changed him for the better.

In a chat with POBS staff, Penny, the parent who emailed, elaborated on her son Noam’s Outward Bound experience. “He still talks about his instructors a lot. I think Jeremy got Noam in a way that a lot of people don’t have the ability or patience to see. He saw in Noam a leadership quality, and told him, ‘you have this awesome ability, you can lift a crowd up, and also bring it down,’ and he explained the difference. He encouraged Noam to do better.”

“I don’t remember every kid, but some students leave a more lasting impression,” said Jeremy. “Noam was very capable on course. He had the physical components down as far as hiking and canoeing, but when it came to others who might be struggling, he didn’t seem to care much about their position, and required a bit more one-on-one coaching and support to address his impact on the group. So Noam’s challenge was more about developing compassion and empathy. As the two weeks wore on he came to understand that – and it was clear he wanted to change. But it is not something you can just switch on, those changes take time.”

Penny says, “Jeremy was honest with Noam, and paid attention. And because of that, Noam is now more positive, and does better at school. Since his instructor saw the goodness in him, Noam got to see the goodness in himself.”

Noam credits his transformation to Jeremy’s positivity. “Jeremy was always happy, even at the roughest of times,” he said. “He always had a good mentality and that’s what he taught me. At the end of the trip I wasn’t looking at things the same way anymore.”

Jeremy (left) and Noam on the rock climbing portion of the expedition.

Jeremy was thrilled to learn that Noam benefitted from the course. “As instructors, we talk a lot about planting seeds and we normally aren’t with the students long enough to see them take root. It is up to the student to nurture and grow it, and I’m happy to hear that Noam continued to try and foster that sense of growth.”

Penny is happy as well. “From a parent’s perspective, this is a really special program. Having those instructors and staff being so kind and aware in a world where there is so much chaos. It just gives a real moment of clarity where our kids can focus on who they are and who they can become.”

“These memories, the lessons I learned about being positive, they’ll stick with me the rest of my life,” said Noam.