Why apply for a Skills for Life Award Scholarship?

Erin Muir, a summer 2015 Skills for Life Award participant shares with us why she believes a Scholarship is worth applying for.

I first attended an Outward Bound course as part of my DofE Gold Award at Aberdovey in Wales. It's a requirement for DofE to attend a residential, so we decided to take on a 7-day leadership course to help prepare us and gain some new skills along the way.

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Throughout our stay we were put through our paces and pushed to the limit with various different challenges and obstacles to overcome. From pioneering and problem solving on the beach to canoe journeys and overnight expeditions – the highlight was reaching the summit of Cadair Idris.

By the end of the week our team had become closer, stronger and more determined to take on new challenges back at home. This was just as well because our instructors (Rob and Jamie) rewarded each of us with a Skills for Life Award Scholarship place!

As the months passed from Spring to Summer I considered my options. Nervous about the thought of returning for what would be 19-days in the unknown (the longest I will have ever been away from home), but also excited at the prospect of going on another adventure with 11 new other people from all over the world.

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After a lot of eager anticipation and some final moments of doubt (on literally the morning I set off), I stepped out of my front door and returned to Outward Bound, this time at Ullswater in the Lake District. It was a decision that I will never regret!

I quickly realised that I need not have been worried and soon found a role for myself in my newfound group of international friends. Plotting routes and navigating with a map and compass turned out to be my specialty after my previous experience in Aberdovey. Skills that turned our to be extremely useful as the course included two 4-day expeditions.

The first exped was a real challenge, testing my own and my team’s grit and determination, not least during our ascent of Helvellyn. Before Outward Bound I was afraid of heights, but it’s safe to say that after conquering the infamous Striding Edge I got over that fear.

The second exped was a little different from the first, as we travelled unaccompanied and in two smaller groups of 6. The smaller groups gave us a chance to make sure we really got to know everyone and also to share some roles and responsibilities.

The journey was tough and there were moments when we wanted to turn back but we stuck at it. It taught us never to give up, to keep going even when you don’t think you can, and that we were capable of more than we knew.

On the last leg we were met with hot blackcurrant and delicious (real) food which was great after living on ration packs! At the final check point our team was reunited once more and we returned by boat to the Centre, on the promise that ice cream would be waiting for us at the end.

Looking back, I’m immensely proud that I achieved the Skills for Life Award and made the decision to leave my comfort zone and experience something new. So with that in mind, I have one piece of advice to anyone that is thinking about applying for a Scholarship place: Don’t think about it just do it, as you will come out of it more confident, more determined and feeling 10 times better on the other side.

To find out more about the Skills for Life Award Scholarship and how to apply visit: outwardboundscholarships.org.uk