I could see and feel a change for the better

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Written by Pammie, parent to Skills for Life Awardee Jasper Thomas - Loch Eil 2018

Our son, Jasper, attended the 19 day Outward Bound Skills for Life Award in August 2018 at Loch Eli in Scotland. This story is about the experience we shared as parents in reference to Jasper attending, completing and successfully passing the course and being issued a Skills for Life Award and a positive and encouraging report.

Jasper is a textbook teen! At age 16, Jasper is into fashion and girls, his friends and gaming all of which is to be expected.  His hobbies and interest are down hill mountain biking and motorcross riding both of which he shows a great talent for.

Our concerns with Jasper as loving and devoted parents are that we were seeing a boy waisting his time on social media, gaming, being slothful and messy, and generally choosing the lazy easier option always.  He also, we believe, is/was gaining an unhealthy belief that he felt “entitled” to the good things in life without having to put any effort in towards earning them. 

Jasper’s Dad and I and his extended family see so much in Jasper that is positive about him.  Tall and personable, chatty and engaging, funny and smart and sporty.  His reports from school say his talents and abilities are limitless yet he does not embrace them.  In Jasper we see a lovely young boy who does not believe in himself.  This lack of self belief being what we believe holds him back.

As Jasper’s concerned parents, based on the above mentioned, we wanted to find a path for Jasper where he was challenged; an opportunity that would give him the chance to prove to himself he is capable and therefore allowing himself to believe in who he is.

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We researched the outward bound course and felt strongly that it could help.  We booked Jasper on the course without fully discussing it with him.  He was not happy!!!

Jasper refered to the idea of the course as “*^*%&$^#%*t” and complained and moaned about going.  He became bitter towards us as the departure date grew closer and very angry at times.  We stayed strong, always explaining to him the reasons for our decision and always reinforcing our love for him.

Jasper left for Scotland under an emotional cloud.  He flew up to Inverness and used the coach transfer service all of which we made him sort himself. Whilst we were naturally nervous for Jasper, we always felt strong in our decision and hoped for the best. The distance and time spent away did not concern us.  We felt it added to the seriousness of the course and what we hoped for him to achieve.

His calls home were in windy conditions with scenic backdrops and lots of happy smiley faces crowded around him saying “heeelloo.” I could see and feel a change for the better. Pammie, Jaspers mum

The Outward Bound Skills for Life course met our expectations.  Jasper started off the few days in  a negative way not really knowing what was to be expected of him nor wanting to engage.  Phone calls home were not the friendliest of calls.  But we continued to stay strong.  Jasper then began to make friends, started to show interest in the expedition and soon caught on to what was expected of him.  He also realized everyone there was in the same boat...or on the same mountain (however you want to look at it ha!) He began to want to help others, made friends, began a romance; he climbed higher and farther, generally showed interest and engaged himself.  His calls home were in windy conditions with scenic backdrops and lots of happy smiley faces crowded around him saying “heeelloo.” I could see and feel a change for the better.

Jasper was awarded the Skills for Life and was given a lovely report written by his instructor based on observations made over the time spent. He returned home to us glowing, head held high and proud of what he had achieved. He has gained confidence, now knowing he can do “it” if he wants to (whatever “it” may be.) He is respectful and thankful and much more willingly helpful around the home. 

Jasper too has been life and sole around the dinner table, sharing his stories and pictures. The trip has brought out his most loving and wonderful side. Less focus on the negative and more on the positive. Yey...

He now has returned to school as a full time boarder embarking on his GCSE year with a hope of being accepted onto yet another expedition which will take him around the world for 8.5 months on a tall ship, visiting between 22 and 30 countries, volunteering with those less fortunate and finishing off his schooling at the same time. “Class Afloat.”  We have submitted his application. We now are awaiting word if they would like to see him for an interview.  We hope his award and report from his Outward Bound trip will see him through to the interview process.  Fingers crossed.