Christina DeLouise, the parent of an Outward Bound alum who went on Struggling Teens course for at-risk youth, was so thrilled about her son’s and her family’s experience, she shared her story us. Here it is:
“Be the change you want to see in the world.”
– Mahatma Gandhi
I’m not a blogger, I’m just a mom. I didn’t even go on an Outward Bound adventure, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t had an amazing Outward Bound experience. Mine began when my son’s program ended.
I enrolled Ian in the Struggling Teens Program for at risk youth. He would spend a month backpacking, canoeing, doing community service and challenging himself with 11 or so other students who were also at risk.
I chose the program because he had lost his way; his grades tanked, he was oppositional, engaging in risky behavior and in need of help. He didn’t even realize he needed help.
I chose the program because he needed to understand how strong he was mentally and physically.
I chose the program after exploring and exhausting many other more costly options.
I chose it because I understood that if nothing changed, then nothing would change. Our family could not continue on the path it was on; his behaviors, our reactions to them, the fighting, screaming and yelling.
My Outward Bound experience started when I went to Maine to pick Ian up after his program had ended. Before we parents could pick up our children, we needed to understand what they had gone through, learn what they had learned and complete our part of the course; a three day parent seminar.
I was not prepared for the level of commitment, honesty and reflection that I would need for the seminar. It was intense; we parents, bound together by our love of our children and our desperation to see them safely through adolescence to adulthood shared our stories, our frustrations, and tears. Lots of tears.
Our children’s instructors taught us the skills and strategies that our children had learned over the course of their time in the wilderness; things like the rules of fair fighting, how to state your concerns, feelings and requests without vitriol, how to WOMP. It was a tough three days, but worth it.
Ian came out of his adventure cautiously optimistic, and happy. He was excited about the future. Me? The same.
Are things perfect now? Nope. We still struggle with geometry and chemistry. But we do have something that we didn’t have before. We have communication skills. We have the ability to state concerns without screaming. Our home is not perfect, but it is more peaceful.
Outward Bound says it does not ‘fix’ students. Ian didn’t need fixing. He needed to understand that he is strong. He can face challenges and adversity. He can work through difficulty. Has he had setbacks? Yes. Will he have more? Absolutely. But now with his Outward Bound experience to draw upon, he has the chance to overcome, with hope for the future. So for that, Outward Bound, I thank you.
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Thanks Christina for sharing your “amazing Outward Bound experience!”