Year 11 Outward Bound Experience

When one has just returned from a week on Outward Bound that included close encounters with platypus and pythons, and more salami and tortilla wraps than most people would wish to consume in a lifetime, it is really hard to conjure up anything more memorable to chat about for a few lines in our Newsletter!  Perhaps I should add that among the most enduring memories will be the wafts of well-matured compost that seeped towards the front of the bus as the ‘shower-free for 5 days’ Year 11 students bounced around excitedly on the long journey home, before suddenly, in an almost Disneyesque fashion, almost all fell into a deep slumber.  Sleeping Beauties, indeed!

How lucky that I was as delightfully and pleasantly aromatic as always, despite the hardship endured and long exposure to the less glamorous side of the beef industry camped out on the legendary bovine fortress of, ‘Cow Poo Island’.  I recall writing Newsletter articles previously about the myriad benefits for our students of being involved in outdoor education – resilience, independence, leadership, teamwork –  and reading those of my colleagues on the same theme, so will try to divert slightly from the philosophy of Outward Bound’s founding fathers.

Being out with really great young people is such a treat.  Yes, we had a larrikin or two among our little crew, as well as sporting superstars from equestrian to rugby, songbirds, academics and pipers; in fact some of ‘Group 2’ would fit into all of those categories!  What is particularly special about outdoor education, in my view, however, is the way the unfamiliar environment and challenges always have a wonderful, levelling and bonding effect.  Why, even those in their 50s (very early, mind you) find themselves drawn into the most intense conversations about past experiences and future hopes and dreams.  My lovely 2015 Year 11 Outward Bound group referred to these as ‘DNMs’ – standing for “deep ‘n’ meaningfuls”, and they have been a feature of every long outdoor education programme I have ever had the privilege to be involved with.

We certainly had our share of those DNMs again in 2017, and back in Warwick the following week, I find myself with a much greater understanding of, and respect for, every youngster in our group.  Sadly the outbreak of illness in Week 5 and 6 reduced the number of Year 11s able to take part, and a few others, as always, invented far-fetched excuses to avoid stepping even close to the edge of their comfort zone, choosing to stay at home when their peers boarded the bus for the Clarence River.  Ultimately, to borrow the motto of both the elite British and Australian special forces, the SAS, involving oneself in Outward Bound is indeed a case of, ‘Who Dares, Wins’.

David Proudlove – Head of Senior School