“Now I can say without hesitation: Outward Bound changed my life. It humbled me, yes. But in doing so it ultimately empowered me. It filtered out distraction and the hum of routine life so I could focus on what really matters”. – Jenny Urice
Jenny joined Outward Bound for the Northwest Outdoor Educator course based out of Mazama, Washington in the Fall of 2019. She spent 50 days traveling throughout Washington where she spent her days sea kayaking, backpacking, mountaineering, rock climbing and learning how to facilitate these skills to her peers and local youth. Along the way she was faced with challenges; snowy and cold conditions, long days and many miles on the trail. By learning through experience she reconnected to herself, created life-long connections and moved closer to a career teaching in the outdoors. When we asked her to tell the story of her course, this is what she shared.
“Outward Bound was hard for me. Really hard. So much so that a few weeks into my course, I made a humility list. I scribbled “Jenny’s Humility List” at the top of my notebook and started writing: Tying knots. Rappelling. Rock climbing. Being on someone else’s schedule. Packing a kayak. Paddling a kayak. Camping in extreme cold. Bushwhacking. Pretty much everything we’d done thus far.
Yikes. I was the weak link, I thought. I’m too old to be here. Too out of shape. Too everything. Why had I decided to do this, anyway?
But then a funny thing happened. Somewhere along the way during my 50-day course, the real lesson of Outward Bound stuck. The stuff that makes you look deep within yourself and face who you truly are. The stuff that makes you accomplish things you never thought you could do.
Now I can say without hesitation: Outward Bound changed my life. It humbled me, yes. But in doing so it ultimately empowered me. It filtered out distraction and the hum of routine life so I could focus on what really matters. Maybe it was when we hiked a boulder field in a foot of snow. Or when we huddled under a tarp in a downpour.
But at some point I reconnected with myself. And I took a long, hard look at what’s important to me.
So much of that journey had to do with my course mates. I was the oldest by far. But in getting to know these young, dynamic people, I opened myself to a collective bonding like nothing I’d experienced before. It’s a camaraderie one remembers long after Outward Bound is over. One where you take care of each other and wish for each other’s well-being a much as your own. In the snow. In the rain. In the wilderness with all comforts stripped away.
I think back on that humility list and chuckle. Had you asked me then, I would’ve said I had no idea why I signed up for my course. Now it lives in my mind as one of the most profound things I’ve done in life. It was the most challenging and the most epic. The most hardcore and the most inspiring. It instilled confidence, community, growth, and trust. The stuff that really matters.
And the stuff I’ll carry with me the rest of my days.”