As well as all the hiking, sailing, climbing and exploring that you would usually expect from an Outward Bound course, the Skills for Life Award is also pretty good at teaching you a thing or two about being proactive – Habit 1 of Dr Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People®. Here’s how:


Matters Of PrincipleAs any Outward Bounder will tell you, being responsible is a big part of being proactive. Whether it’s looking after the kit you carry or making sure you’re up and ready in time for that pre-expedition fry-up you soon get used to taking a bit of personal responsibility.

For instance, many participants choose to start or end one of their expeditions by boat. However, if your team allows the flow of the water to take you anywhere, you will never reach your destination. You are responsible for the boats course, it’s up to you to cast off, hoist the sail and begin your adventure – without interference from the current.


Reactive people tend to focus on matters that are out of their control like the weather, their company or their environment. The Skills for Life Award teaches you to focus on the positives and consider what you can influence to avoid problems down the road.

 Reactive people say:  Proactive people say:
 "It's your fault that we left the tent poles behind."  "Let's work as a team to make sure we don't leave anything behind."
 "It's not raining, why do I have to carry waterproofs?"  "I'm going to pack my waterproofs just in case it rains."
 "It's because of the weather that we got lost."  "How can I improve my navigation skills so we don't get lost tomorrow?"


The Skills for Life Award is an opportunity to get stuck in and be an important member of your team. Whether it’s rowing across the English Lake District, navigating across the Scottish Highlands or sailing along the Welsh coastline – there will always be a role for you to carry out. Being proactive means that you won’t be an idle observer, rather you will become a doer, thinker or leader.


I remember eating most of the treats in my packed-lunch during the leisurely walk along the valley floor. It was only later, when we were half-way up the gruelling mountain pass, that I got that sickening feeling, watching everyone else tuck into their flapjack and Oreos whilst I ate my apple… Note to self: Prioritise Skills for Life Award participant, summer 2015

Whether it’s replenishing your sun cream at the base of Helvelyn or getting a hot drink in you once you’ve reached the summit, your priorities constantly change when you’re on an Outward Bound course. If you think proactively about what challenges you may face during the day and how to mitigate those problems you are on the right track to success.


The Hard WorkAbove all, the Skills for Life Award will teach you to work hard and believe in yourself. Nobody else is going to get you where you want to go more than yourself. It was the famous golf player Arnold Palmer who once said: “It’s a funny thing, the more I practice the luckier I get”. Your team mates and instructors will be there to support you on your journey, but during the Skills for Life Award you will realise that you’re capable of doing more than you thought possible. The harder you work at being proactive and getting the above things right the luckier you will become.

To find out more about the Skills for Life Award or to apply for funding check out our Adventure Fund.