At Outward Bound, we’re lucky in the way that we hear from our students (whether it’s through online testimonials, e-mails, alumni events, facebook, twitter, etc) on an almost daily basis. The stories that we hear are what keep us inspired to do what we do.
Every once in a while a message comes through that truly knocks our proverbial socks off. Tim Jackoboice took a 23-day mountaineering course in Colorado in July of 1980. We thought sharing his e-mail with you was a great way to honor Tim’s 30th anniversary. Enjoy.
What’s the power of an Outward Bound course? In a word, tremendous … and an incredibly life-changing experience in so many ways.
It was 30 years ago I saw a promotional video for an Outward Bound course. Less than two months later, I was deep in the Sangre de Cristo Mountain range of Southern Colorado, on a 23-day mountaineering and wilderness survival course (CR-271, July 7-29, 1980, with instructors Joede and John.) I wanted to sign up in the beginning because I didn’t think I could. In the end, I realized there was nothing I couldn’t do.
Back then I was 16 1/2, the minimum age allowed to participate in Outward Bound, and I was a fish out of water — more comfortable in a living room recliner than scaling a 14,000 ft peak. What I learned in those three weeks, however, wasn’t so much about how to climb stone mountains, but about how to climb the mountains of life. I didn’t learn as much about surviving in the wilderness, as I did about surviving life in the skin I was given, as all the tools I possessed inside were revealed through the magic of Outward Bound.
What Outward Bound uncovers inside you, can only be experienced by extracting yourself first from the comforts of daily life, amidst all the familiar, secure, and comfortable things you unknowingly rely on every day. Outward Bound thrusts you into a beautiful setting and into challenges and objectives you’d otherwise never face. What you find, you keep forever — and hold dear as one of most unique events of your life, and of the world you become a part of in the process. The challenges you face, the objectives you achieve, and the pride and strength you obtain are rarely experienced any other way.
Since my course nearly 30 years ago, I’ve traveled the world … running with the bulls in Pamplona, diving 130′ ft in azure Caribbean waters, attending Sing-Sings amidst thousands of formerly cannibalistic natives in the jungles of Papua New Guinea. Conversely, I’ve also faced the challenges of business, business partners, social situations, entrepreneurial endeavors, even the horrors of 9/11 at the base of the South Tower as it collapsed. I say this not to impress, but because it’s all relevant. In all these situations, at some point I reflect back on Outward Bound in one manner or another, for giving me the strength, the sense of adventure, and the confidence that anything is possible and anything can be overcome. No business decision was ever as challenging or rewarding as my first peak ascent. No social situation is ever as challenging or rewarding as a 72 hour solo, without food or water other than the stream you called home for 3 incredible days. And the tragedy, crime, and despair in the world can always be escaped when you can return to the beautiful place Outward Bound once took you, in a world devoid of everything but the beauty of the wilderness around you, and the soul you uncovered while you were a part of it.
One of my most memorable days was Day 4, at 10,000 ft during a driving rainstorm pelting our tarps with horizontal fury, when three course mates and I were talking about our experiences to that point, and one of us let on he’d been counting the days, hours and minutes until we were done. That person was me. The bravado dropped, and we really started talking. And once we realized we didn’t have the comforts of home, and were being challenged in ways ordinarily never possible, we realized we were part of something bigger than ourselves. We realized nothing mattered except who and what we were at that time, and that what we were and had at home didn’t define us at 12,000 ft. We didn’t realize it at the time, of course, but that’s when we became ripe for the experiences that followed. We simply had to become immersed in a unique environment first, before we could uniquely learn, grow, and discover ourselves inside. For some, that realization hits immediately. Whenever it happens, your world opens up and the experiences become awe-inspiring. And they only become more so with time, after having applied what you’ve learned, who you’ve become, and what you believe in the years that follow.
What happened to me in those 23 days in 1980 has kept me looking back for almost three decades. In the first few days of my experience, I wondered why some of the returning OB Alumni would ever do it twice. After I finished my experience, I wondered when I could do it again. That sentiment has become increasingly intense in the years that followed, because time allows you to appreciate all that Outward Bound is even more.
If you’ve completed an Outward Bound course in the past, you know exactly what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, you never will. Take an opportunity to become something bigger than yourself, in order to get to truly know yourself as a result – all your strengths, your will, your beauty, and your courage. Experience something few people ever will. The person in the mirror upon your return will be far better than the one you left within the mountains, on the seas, or in the snows of the Outward Bound course you choose. Outward Bound helps you meet the person you are and all that you can be in an experience you’ll keep for the rest of your life.
Outward Bound is for life … and I’m proud it’s been such a big part of mine.
All the best,
Colorado Outward Bound School Alumnus
CR-271, July 7-29, 1980
Instructors Joede Schoenborn, John Lopez
OTHER POSTS YOU MAY LIKE