Our impact in their words

Our Impact in their Words

Each young person we work with has their own unique experience at Outward Bound and has their own story to tell about how it has impacted them.

Click on the topics to read about the particular challenges young people have felt prior to coming to Outward Bound and how they've learnt to overcome these and take steps towards achieving their ambitions in life as a result of their experience with us.

These real stories are from interviews with or written feedback from individuals who have been on our courses. We have changed their names to protect their anonymity and the photos are for illustration purposes only.



A young person’s aspirations are shaped by a wide range of opportunities, experiences and influences; each occasion shaping their view of themselves and their place in society.

Young people from deprived backgrounds frequently lack quality opportunities and positive influences, and those who are exposed to adversity stand significantly reduced chances of reaching their full potential as adults.

Low self-esteem, lack of confidence and poor resilience, together with a lack of focus or motivation hold young people back.

At Outward Bound, we believe with the right skills, attitude and confidence, this can change.

During our courses, young people push their limits and build their confidence by overcoming physical and emotional challenges. They leave their course having experienced what it feels like to overcome difficulties and achieve their goals. They go home confident in the knowledge that they can take control of their future, as the stories below illustrate.

Meet Sasha

At age 17, Sasha was unhappy and stuck in a dead-end job. Her college studies didn’t really interest her, her life was easy and predictable and more often than not, she took the easy option instead of risking failure. Her lack of confidence and self-belief was holding her back from doing things she really wanted to do.

Meet Emma

Before Outward Bound, Emma had few aspirations and goals. She doubted herself, had very little confidence, didn’t consider herself suitable for university and had resigned herself to the fact that she’d probably just never end up leaving her small hometown.

Meet Alice

Before Alice came to Outward Bound in Year 9, her goals and aspirations for the future changed regularly and she would drift from one idea to the next.

Right now is the only time to do it
It’s impacted my view on life
Now, I'm set on a certain job


A young person’s transition into adulthood is becoming increasingly challenging for a number of reasons: economic outlook, competition for jobs and the breakdown of the traditional pathways into work.

Added to this is the fact that a young person’s journey into the workplace is complex and dependant on many factors such as their personal circumstances, emotional capabilities, education and employability skills including communication, teamwork and leadership skills.

A poll of 1,000 18-25-year-olds showed that 18-25 year olds feel that a large chunk of their time is spent feeling anxious or under pressure because of career plans and fears about their future (1). ​

At Outward Bound we strive to address the development of young people’s personal, social and emotional skills to better prepare them for the world of work. Here are some stories from young people for whom their Outward Bound course provided an opportunity to build on skills they will need in the workplace and as a result, feel more in control over where their career may take them.

Meet Lewis

Lewis is 16 and in Year 12 at school. A confident, high achiever, he was convinced he had all the skills he needed to win the race to be Head Boy at his school. Whilst on his Outward Bound course, he realised that there’s more to being a leader than being at the front of the group and carrying people’s bags.

Meet Gemma

Gemma is 19 and over the past year a lot changed for her. She had to spend a lot of time in hospital and ended up dropping out of her A-Levels. Shortly before her Skills for Life Award she made the spontaneous decision to accept a job abroad. Coming back to the UK to take part in the Award gave her a break that she needed; time to reflect and remind herself of her motivations and interests.

I'm more comfortable in myself

Mental well-being

Mental well-being is described as a positive state of being. It includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being and affects how we think, feel, and act (2,3).

A recent study (The Prince’s Trust 2019) (4) shows young people are becoming more stressed and anxious than previously recorded, with nearly two thirds reporting that they “always or “often” feel stressed and just over half reporting that they “always” or “often” feel anxious. Over a third do not feel they have control over their lives, despite having strong ambitions for the future.

These anxieties, combined with socio-economic disadvantage, poor mental health and the fact that young people are at a critical transition point in their lives,

means we have a situation where our young people may now be struggling to cope with their everyday lives.

At Outward Bound, we focus on developing individuals’ social and emotional skills which can act as protective factors in times of difficulty or change. The stories included here are from participants for whom their Outward Bound experience has been instrumental in them changing their approach to life and in taking steps to help them manage their own mental health and well being.

Meet Kirsten

Kirsten, age 19, has been diagnosed with depression for a while. A few months before her Skills for Life Award, she hit a particular low and ended up in hospital. She told us how previously she would let her depression get the better of her – it would prevent her from doing things.

Meet Jessica

Jessica is 17. Before taking part in the Mark Scott Leadership for Life Award, she had had several failed attempts of therapy and treatment for her mental health issues.

She lived in a ‘bubble’ where she could shut herself off and hide from the world, in her therapy sessions, she felt unable to open up and talk to any of the professionals trying to help her.

Meet Sarah

Sarah is 18 and will soon be starting her first year at University. She recently got diagnosed with a long-term illness which has taken her a while to come to terms with. During her Skills for Life Award course, inspirational speakers come to talk to participants about their own experiences.

I can still achieve my goals
I need to put myself first
It has helped me set up my future


Our capacity to form and maintain relationships is key to our mental health, well-being and how we function in society.

Secure, healthy relationships help us to better manage our own feelings and behaviours and enable us to better relate to others. Ultimately, this benefits our families, friends and the communities in which we live.

Relationships and working with others are central to our courses. Whilst overcoming social and emotional challenges in the wild, young people develop trust, patience, listening and communication skills.

They develop an awareness of the needs and opinions of others and understand how they themselves may be viewed by others.

Here are some stories that illustrate how developing these social skills on an Outward Bound course has helped young people better deal with social situations in their life back at home.

Meet Tim

Tim, age 16, often found he clashed with his mum over being given freedom and independence. He felt like she was too over protective and didn’t allow him to be the adult he felt he was.

Meet Joe

Before Joe, age 18, went on his Skills for Life Award, he was still struggling from his experience of a very toxic, previous relationship. It had affected him emotionally, so much so that he had been experiencing suicidal thoughts and anxiety about establishing relationships with other people since.

Meet James and Elise

For Year 10 students James and Elise, their winter five-day Raising Aspirations course provided an opportunity for them to develop stronger relationships with their peers and with their teachers.

I'd often clash with my mum
I've kept in contact with my group
Like we were all friends


With a significant focus on exams, qualifications and grades at school, the subject of attainment is constantly at the forefront of young people’s minds. ​

At Outward Bound we develop skills in young people that help them fulfil their potential back in the classroom. After their course young people feel more confident and able to manage the pressures they face in their learning. Here are some stories from individuals for whom their Outward Bound course has changed their attitudes to their studies and their engagement in the classroom.

Meet Britt

12 year old Britt explained how overcoming her fears camping out in the dark on her Outward Bound course became one of her favourite memories and how that experience helped her feel more confident at school, contributing in the classroom and getting more involved in school clubs.

Meet Ameena

Ameena is 18 and a high achiever who put a lot of pressure on herself to achieve top grades. She speaks about the Skills for Life Award being an important wake-up call where she realised that grades and study aren’t everything.

Meet Richard, Kelly and Justin

Richard, Kelly and Justin are in Years 10 and 11, and reflect back on how their Raising Aspirations course has helped them realise the hard work that is required in order to achieve their goals. Returning from their course, they have been more motivated in their schoolwork, have a more proactive approach to getting things done and are seeing their efforts pay off.

It’s impacted my view on life
I always want to better myself
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