With new COVID-19 practices in place, we caught up with our Alumni to hear about their recent course experiences.
As I walk out the door to my house, I check for four things: wallet, keys, phone and mask—an essential list that shifted ever so slightly but holds considerable life-altering effects.
The impacts of the pandemic have been felt in small and big ways by every human being. Now unlike ever before we visibly see how our actions cause reactions that affect not only ourselves but those around us. It is a vision we’ve all had to grow for the health of our community. A set of eyes we see Outward Bound students return home with over and over again—a realization that they are needed and that their actions can cause significant change for good.
COVID-19 Practices on Course
This is one reason why we set in place COVID-19 Health and Safety Practices for all of our 2021 expeditions. By building new health rhythms into our expeditions, we altered our daily backcountry habits ever so slightly. A change that allows for more students to step into community and freedom in the outdoors and experience the life-changing impact of their time in the backcountry.
Back in the fall, we resumed our multi-day expeditions following these COVID-19 practices in Colorado, Minnesota and Texas. Below is what those expedition students had to say about the course practices, their takeaways and why they think more people should go on an Outward Bound course this year.
What Was It Like Taking a Course During the Pandemic?
“Outward Bound handled [the pandemic] very well, making sure we were all safe and giving us space outside to be together and live in a world in which the pandemic isn’t impacting us emotionally and physically. I thought that was very refreshing and important for my mental health. I think it was important to be able to escape the world in which we live, to really focus inward and right now is especially an important time to be able to do that.” -Baylar, 2020 Outward Bound Alum
“At the beginning, for the first five days, a lot of masks, gloves and social distancing. The Instructors cooked anytime we handled any kind of food. We were wearing gloves, trying to stay as safe as you possibly could, taking temperatures every morning. Once we became a family unit, after those five days and everyone was cleared of the tests and the symptoms, we got closer physically and emotionally.” – Jonas, 2020 Outward Bound Alum
“Before we came to the course we did 14 days of strict quarantining at home, social distancing, not leaving your house if it wasn’t necessary—being really diligent to keep away from COVID. When we arrived here, we spent five days, social distancing. We wore masks and were six feet apart and were very careful. After that, once we were all COVID free (we all got tested at the very beginning), we dispersed the social distancing.” -Annie, 2020 Outward Bound Alum
Why Did You Go Outward Bound Now and Why Should Others?
“Before this, I was in college and I was having a really hard time with online school. I felt like I needed to make a big change and learn some big things.” – Jonas, 2020 Outward Bound Alum
“If you’re feeling down on the world and you need a little push or hope in humanity, this is the place to go. People here are supportive and care about one another. I definitely had some challenges throughout the course, but I never felt alone. Even when at home, when I was surrounded by tons of family and friends, I felt so alone. But here surrounded by seven strangers, I never for a second felt alone or isolated.” -Anastasia Gehrisch, 2020 Outward Bound Alum
“I think it’s one of the best things to do during the pandemic, because it gives you so much freedom away from the virus and you actually get to build a really strong community in ways that you can’t when you’re social distancing at home.” -Annie, 2020 Outward Bound Alum
“There’s no better time to do something like this. I think there are so many excuses to not take time for yourself, to develop some skills that society definitely doesn’t acknowledge as much as it should. I at least personally, saw it as a sign to pursue Outward Bound, and I don’t regret it one bit.” -Mason Marsh, 2020 Outward Bound Alum
Tell Us About Your Experience and Takeaways from Your Course.
“The experience has been awesome. The group is totally amazing and I couldn’t ask for much better. There are some really awesome people and I’ve made some really cool friends already.” -Luke, 2020 Outward Bound Alum
“I am really looking to bring some of my risk management and leadership skills that I’ve acquired on course and apply that to some of the things I love in the outside world…I will never forget the sense of community felt among my peers. I think the friends I made here will last for a long time. I feel quite confident about that. I will forever remember waking up in the nice early morning and getting after it in the alpine.” -Mason Marsh, 2020 Outward Bound Alum
“I have so much love for the people in my life. I always have, but spending time here and building a community with strangers, being able to take that home and share it with my family and friends—the things I learned about myself and the toolkits, like vulnerability and self-regulation—I think I have so much more knowledge and wisdom to share with the people that I love and the ability to impact my communities in a really positive way.” -Baylar, 2020 Outward Bound Alum
Confidence that Speaks
We look forward to running more courses across the country under our COVID-19 practices this year and meeting more students like the ones above. The confidence that showed up on these alumni’s faces, in the conversations with their new community of peers and Instructors and in the goals they established for themselves are a reminder of the power of community and personal growth that happens in the outdoors.
For more information on the health and safety practices for upcoming courses, please visit this page.
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