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Salient: Victoria University Students' Paper. Vol. 26, No. 2. 1963.

Outward Bound Instils New Values

page 8

Outward Bound Instils New Values

The Cobham Outward Bound School did something to me. It wasn't just another Boy Scout camp or tramping expedition—its effect was more profound. I was forced to accept a completely different set of values.

Two years at University, exams passed or novels I may have read did nothing for me at Anakiwa. The things that mattered were far more fundamental—determination, stamina, initiative and guts.

Down there you are stripped of any airs and graces—it doesn't matter who you are or what you do—its the real you that matters. Its whether you can get yourself through the commando course on the ropes, lug your pack and yourself over miles of rugged bush country, or push your canoe, through the choppy waters of Queen Charlotte Sound.

And it wasn't easy. I sometimes found myself wondering why I ever went to Outward Bound in the first place.

I could not deceive myself or anybody else to what I was like. I found myself in situations where there was nothing to hide behind—character was revealed in a way in which all deficiencies became glaringly apparent but in which abilities also became clearly visible.

It was not always a pleasant experience, but always it was rewarding.

During my first few days there I felt disappointed with the boys who were in the same watch as myself. They appeared soft, sissy, timid and dull—none of them were University students. I bemoaned my fate in having to spend three weeks in close contact with such colourless characters.

But it was not long before I was sharply knocked down from my self-constructed pedestal of intellectual superiority. I soon realised just how much I could learn from my companions. As I learned from them I learned also about myself and became ashamed of my arrogant and condescending attitude.

I saw people in a different light than I saw them at university. I was in a position to see their true character—their resourcefulness, their commonsense, their courage, their tolerance. Every day there were situations which demanded these qualities and they either showed or didn't show for all to see.

I found true fellowship at Outward Bound. Not the easy casual acquaintances of University life—the camaraderie of the rugby field: of parties, coffee bars, dances and lecture rooms—but a genuine and deep comradeship. A team spirit that was hardened and blistered by strain, hardship and sometimes real danger to something strong and unshakeable which I have never seen before.

This showed most strongly in times of difficulty. In the various activities—tramping, sailing, canoeing, and rope-climbing—some were always better than the rest and there were those who found the going really tough (I was often one of them) and it was then fellowship and team spirit really came to the fore.

Here was understanding, advice, and encouragement, the "come on you can do it." Everybody did their best to pull the whole team through. The sort of spirit that starts a little glow inside which overcomes the aching limbs, tired muscles and utter weariness to keep you going in spite of yourself and makes you thankful that you've got such good blokes with you.

I have heard Outward Bound criticised by some as being merely a "glorified Boy Scouts" and "its a waste of money, we don't need it in New Zealand," but I feel that those people have misinterpreted the true meaning and purpose of Outward Bound training.

Its purpose is not so much to teach the skills of the various outdoor activities (for which ample opportunity does already exist in New Zealand), but rather to put all the activities together in concentrated form to show the boy what he can accomplish with a bit of determination and teamwork.

It gives you the chance to size yourself up—your strong points, your weaknesses—your capabilities, your limitations.

Outward Bound is not a course in leadership but a course designed to develop character by presenting a series of stiff physical challenges which when completed will allow potential qualities of leadership to emerge.

The school is not magic. It gives the opportunity to realise the value of teamwork and determination—to better equip yourself to face mental problems and to know yourself better through the experience of physical hardship. But you cannot get anything out of it unless you put something in.

It is an experience I recommend to all students.