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Outward Bound

Posted by Kiley Smith ’21 on Jan 17, 2020 10:54:51 AM

This summer, I traveled to the remote town of Camden, Maine, to complete a course called Outward Bound. It wasn’t until a routine All School Meeting in January of 2019 that I had even heard of the organization that made such an impact on me.

SummitGrowing up in Colorado I was always fond of nature and was often exploring or hiking the trails of the Rocky Mountains. When I came to Tabor, there was a new landscape of ocean to enjoy, but, yet I found myself missing the mountains I normally would see every day in my backyard. So, as soon as I heard Brandon Sherman ’20 tell us stories about his time in the outdoors during his own Outward Bound course from the previous summer, I was hooked.

I found out just a few short days before March break that I was chosen to receive Tabor’s annual Outward Bound grant, an opportunity that would take me on the trip of a lifetime during the coming summer. I remember being so excited, and could hardly wait until August 10th arrived, when my course would begin.

CanoeingSoon enough August came, and I was starting day one of fourteen in the woods of Maine. The first week was solely transportation by canoe, and the second week was backpacking. In my community, there were twelve of us, ten kids and two instructors. I found I had underestimated how hard canoeing was when I was rowing around 10-16 miles a day with a partner. I quickly learned to have more patience and to embrace little successes; such as rowing another mile or staying on pace, because each and every day was long, tiring, and at least eight hours. By the end of week one, I am not lying when I say I could not feel my arms anymore; but fortunately, my legs were very rested when we began to embark on the backpacking half of my course. 

The backpacking week was surreal. There is an indescribable feeling when you reach the summit of a very large mountain after hiking hour upon hour. It’s the moment you drop everything off your back, the weight now off your shoulders (literally), and you’ve made it. The view is amazing, and your sense of accomplishment is off the charts. Every day for a week I was able to see a new summit and even see the previous mountains that we had climbed, seeing how far we had come. By the end of the fourteen days, everyone was exhausted (as to be expected), but there was a deep sadness knowing we were all going our separate ways. The small community we had created made such an impact on every single one of us.Group photo

Outward Bound was something I will never forget or regret. The two weeks I spent in the woods were an experience that forced me out of my comfort zone both physically and emotionally. It could’ve only been there where complete strangers could turn into life-long friends. Through my experience, I’ve come to realize how much the roles of compassion and integrity play in creating lasting relationships, even with random strangers from completely different places. This course was not in any way easy, but through it, you come to understand that things could be worse and you quickly come to appreciate everything in your life outside this course. Looking back now, I have two weeks worth of incredible memories and lessons learned that couldn’t have been made any other way. 

My experience with Outward Bound has set me up for a successful junior year here at Tabor, as I have gained much more patience for myself and those around me. I have more pride when completing even the smallest task at hand and now have the ability to understand that everyone at this school has come from a different background with their own story. With these new skills at my disposal, I am working to create a community similar to the one I was a part of in Maine.  

Please enjoy this video of my trip, created to share my experiences with the Tabor community. 


Topics: Student Life