Josh. Outward Bound Alumni
Stories from the Outward Bound family

Josh. Outward Bound Alumni

Josh first came to Outward Bound in 2011 with his school, returned on a 19 day Skills for Life Award in 2017 and in 2018 gave an outstanding speech at an event at Windsor Castle in 2018. Now in 2020 he has just completed his first year at St John’s College, University of Cambridge where he is studying Human, Social and Political Sciences. His plan is to specialise in Politics and International Relations.

It was windy, and when I say windy, I really do mean windy. The bracken was knee high and the fog did not help either. Each step was gruelling, one foot at a time. It was like walking in sinking mud, and the toughest part was that this was just the beginning. It was at this point I knew that the Outward Bound challenge had truly begun…
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Josh at Uni

I was given the daunting yet rewarding task of leading the group, responsible for navigating the most appropriate route to the summit. Midway up Cadar Idris mountain in Snowdonia, the fog was even more dense, making it almost unbearable to see - yet we marched on, there was no going back. When we reached the summit, it was a feeling of pure accomplishment, knowing all the obstacles we overcame, the soggy boots and the fact that we had beat the rival team to the top.

This was my hardest day on Outward Bound, aged 16 - but going back, my first Outward Bound experience came at the tender age of 10 years old. It was a weekend trip to Aberdovey with my school, the same place where 6 years later I would be climbing a mountain. I was nervous and didn’t know what to expect. Life before Outward Bound was a bit of a mountain climb, only that I was climbing without support, too afraid to reach out to ask for help. Outward Bound instilled in me the importance of teamwork, encouraging me to step out of my comfort zone while always there to ensure I could fall back on something if needs be.

My primary school, Christ Church in Brixton, saw the positive impact Outward Bound courses had on students, sending us on two more trips to Scotland and the Lake District which was a genuine bonding experience.

Then I started at secondary school which was tough for me. I was alone. I knew barely anyone and was out of my comfort zone. Early on, I would get sent out of class for speaking out of turn as I was unable to focus on what was being said. I recall one parents evening my maths teacher telling my Mum “He’s a bright boy, but he just needs to cut out the chatter”. My mum looked at me… disappointed.

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Josh on his Skills for Life Award

The school had its challenges, with a few students in my year being expelled, something I knew I didn’t want for myself. Soon after, I remembered the invaluable lessons Outward Bound had taught me - not only to be adventurous but also respectful and polite. I turned things around and my Mum only heard positive things from thereon.

A few years later, I read an article in the local paper of a boy who’d been offered a scholarship to study at a very prestigious boarding school – Eton. I thought to myself “If he can do it, then surely I can too?!” I decided to print out an application form and with the help of my mum we sent off the 16-page document.

A month or so later, I was shortlisted for interviews and tests. 3 days, 3 tests and 6 interviews later I was on the train back home to London. A couple of agonising and tense days later, I received a letter telling me that I’d been awarded a place at Eton College on a full scholarship - not bad for a kid from Brixton who used to get sent out of class is it?...

Since my first Outward Bound course I discovered a passion for spoken word poetry (hear Josh read his poetry on our Instagram channel), winning a national competition in 2016 which almost a thousand people entered! I was selected to represent London at a Poetry festival in Washington DC the same year. My love for poetry began during a trust building activity at Outward Bound where we had to rely on each other to achieve the desired outcome This taught me that being honest and truthful is something that would get me far in life. Through the medium of poetry, I have been able to share my truths and written about certain inequalities in society such as my increased likeliness to be stopped and searched in comparison to my white peers. I have also written on topics such as mental health in the hope of raising awareness and encouraging open discussion.

Furthermore, my increased confidence has enabled me to try new things, even if they don’t work out. For example, to secure an internship, I applied to multiple companies. Although I was ignored by many, I persisted and secured an internship at KPMG, an international accounting firm. My proactive approach, and sense that anything you want to do is achievable with dedication and resilience, is something Outward Bound instilled in me, whilst also encouraging me to pursue my interests.

I honestly would not be where I am now without Outward Bound. Although not everybody that takes part will go on to attend arguably the best school in the world, they will honestly leave knowing a whole lot more about themselves and what they are truly capable of, whatever that may be. I could climb that mountain, and I know many others will be able to do the same with the support from The Outward Bound Trust.