James from The Trust's marketing team rediscovers his sense of adventure on his first ever Outward Bound course with Top Valley Academy
Its 2pm on Friday afternoon at Aberdovey – our Outward Bound adventure is just about to begin and I’m starting to feel a slight sense of trepidation.
I’m no stranger to the outdoors; a Scout leader, YHA member, and proud holder of my Gold DofE Award. And yet, I still felt nervous about leaving my comfort zone.
As the bus arrived, Rob, our instructor, was raring to go. It wasn’t long before he had us briefed and ready for our first activity: the jog and dip.
It is what it says on the tin, a jog to the estuary followed by an excruciatingly cold dip in the sea. Consequently, the pre-activity interrogation began – “In January!?” cried one participant, “are you serious, you can’t be serious?” – shouted another.
Rob was quite serious, the jog and dip was the perfect tool to bring us together and help us find our feet. One girl took the lead, “it can’t be that bad”, everyone laughed and a contagion of encouragement crept out amongst us.
Our team was ready, Rob lead the charge. “Absolutely Baltic” was the best and most accurate way to describe it. The shivering was drowned out with laughter and the hesitation was overcome with resolve. Our first mission was complete.
Nevertheless, once we returned, there was no time to rest on our laurels. Rob soon turned the adventure level up another notch. Revealing that our next challenge was to camp out in a wood cabin deep in the Welsh mountains.
A second interrogation ensued, but Rob was clear why we were doing it. He explained how this weekend wasn’t just about jogging and dipping, paddling canoes or scrambling up waterfalls. Rather it was about broadening our horizons, understanding our strengths and weaknesses and building our determination.
Rob chose this moment to remind us of Henry Ford’s famous words:
“If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.”
The cabin was to be a perfect environment to do something new, in which we would be free from the comfort and distractions of the modern world. It would take us away from electricity and wifi, and give us an opportunity not only to talk, but to listen.
In little over 12 weeks all of the young people stopping in that cabin would be facing their GCSE’s. If this weekend was for anything, Rob told us, it was to help everyone in our team to realise their potential to overcome the academic challenge that lay ahead of them.