I recently got to catch up with my friend and fellow Outward Bound Instructor, Arianna (Ari) Kosel. She’s worked for Outward Bound in the Northwest for four years and has also worked in California and New York City. She just finished a course with Outward Bound’s urban center in San Francisco and took some time away to chat with me about all things Outward Bound.
What brought you to Outward Bound?
Well, this is kind of a funny story. I was traveling in Peru after college with one of my good friends. We were doing the Santa Cruz Trek in the Cordillera Blanca. We started talking to this young guy and he was telling me about all of the NOLS and Outward Bound courses he did as a kid. At this point I was doing a lot of soul searching, and this guy was telling me that I would really like Outward Bound. The next chance I got I found WiFi to look this stuff up, and the mission of Outward Bound really resonated with me. I have to give a shout out to Peter from New York. Before I met him, I really thought I was going to jump right into the food system and use my Sustainable Agriculture degree.
As Instructors at Outward Bound, we are passionate about our work, and it is the students that keep us coming back. Choosing to go on an Outward Bound course where you are a truly valued team member can’t be missed.
Why do you continue working for Outward Bound?
I have been thinking about this recently. Whenever I am not at the Outward Bound base, I have these realizations about how incredible our community is and how lucky I am to be a part of it. There are very few places outside of Outward Bound where I have felt such a genuine level of support for my personal development. I feel like I have a lot of room to grow and a lot of support that will help me along that path. This keeps me going.
A huge part of why I come back each summer is the students. I receive messages from my students in the off-season and they are off on their own doing various things in life. Having them touch base and share their reflections on how their summer experience has stuck with them—well, that alone makes me want to return! This is a small validation of the work that we do, and how powerful and impactful it can be. If I can continue to be out there and help facilitate personal growth experiences, it is worth doing.
Tell me about your last course.
Outward Bound California contracted with a school in Oakland, California that serves high schoolers that are English Language Learners. We went on a four-day backpacking expedition to Pt. Reyes, which is an area that holds a special place in my heart. I managed to speak in Spanish the entire time on course!
I found it so hard to facilitate the element of challenge on this course because these students have already faced challenge in their lives that I can only scratch the surface of understanding.
As Instructors, we talk about being “Outward Bounded,” or having similarly challenging course experiences like our students. I felt that way on this course—trying to speak Spanish, bridge cultural gaps and meet these students where they were at. This trip was so great—a chance to reset for the students. I am so happy to just be a part of it and making the outdoors accessible to all.
What courses are you instructing this summer and what are you most excited about?
I will be working in Oregon, and will be leading Oregon Rafting and Rock Climbing and the 30-day Oregon Rafting, Mountaineering and Rock Climbing. These two courses are really different. I love the rock climbing and river course because you get to know some beautiful Oregon spots. The 30-day course is great for students who really want the expedition experience. You really get out there! The immersion experience of a 30-day course is incomparable. For both courses, we will spend time climbing at world-class Smith Rock and rafting 100 miles of the Deschutes River. However, with the longer course we also go the Oregon Cascades and learn mountaineering skills.
I am excited to get back out there and repeat the courses that I facilitated last year. I had a lot of learnings and I am excited to implement these this time around. The combo of building on the knowledge of last year, and being really stoked to have entirely new groups and new experiences is phenomenal. My confidence level is higher this time around.
What is your most challenging aspect of instructing a course?
I think for me, it’s going to be sustaining my energy. My main goal will be to take care of myself physically and mentally so I don’t burn out. I try to take care of myself and my body.
What are your go-to self-care techniques?
I am going to try and do a lot of yoga and watercolors. And, of course, eat a lot of Sriracha. I firmly believe that the greater my intake of Sriracha, the greater my overall happiness.
What are some of your favorite moments of a summer course?
I love the times when students have breakthrough moments where they have been struggling with their fear of heights, sitting at the edge of a rappel, and then suddenly, they just go for it. The look on their face, it is beyond words. These are the moments that make me so happy. I also like the end of course during our pin ceremony. When we reflect on everything that we accomplished as individuals and a group—these moments are so meaningful. Sometimes, you don’t necessarily know until that moment what has transpired for a student, but then you get to hear it directly from them.
Do you have any advice for a future student attending a course this summer?
But, really, I think my advice is to not overthink it. Do what you need to do to feel rested, excited and ready. Maybe that is going on a training hike with your new boots, or just hanging out with friends and soaking up that time at home. Fill up your energy so you can show up and be present on your course!
About the Author
Kate Samp is an Outward Bound Instructor in the Northwest. She loves climbing mountains, yoga and whitewater rafting. She writes from her home in Bend, Oregon.
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