#15 of “23 Stories of Change” for our City Skyline Challenge!
At the age of six, I first recognized the change that Outward Bound can make in a person. My dad, 40 at the time and a commercial real estate agent in Texas, had just returned from a 14 day Outward Bound course in the Rockies and his normally clean shaven face was adorned with a shaggy red beard. While the beard was the biggest change in my 6 year old mind, I also noticed a different look in his eyes and an excitement in how he talked about his ‘camping trip’ and what it meant to him.
At the age of sixteen, I got my chance and attended a 14-day High Sierra backpacking and rock-climbing course. As a high school student, I felt insecure and lacking in personal identity; however, on OB I came to feel wholly myself and true to the person I wanted to be.
I returned from my course with a changed in the look in my eyes, too. The world seemed bigger, more approachable and the limited perception I had for myself broadened. And I wanted more. This taste of empowerment and individualism had me hooked. The next step was to sign up for an even more challenging Outward Bound course for the next summer – this time 22 days mountaineering on the Continental Divide in Montana. At the age of 17 with two courses under my belt, I was determined to work for Outward Bound in the future. I had seen the change in my dad, my crew mates, and myself, and wanted to pass this.
I started working for Outward Bound in 2006 as a field instructor, and have since worked for the organization in a variety of positions. Year after year and course after course, we ask students to challenge themselves and to reconsider their perceived boundaries. I am continually surprised and humbled by how much of a parallel process this has been for me. The lessons that I have learned from our students, school partners and community have continued to inspire and challenge my own self-perceptions. In 2012, I embarked on a through-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail from Mexico to Canada, covering 2,660 miles in 148 days. In the last of my millions of steps on the PCT, as I approached the monument at the northern terminus, I felt it again: that sense of self that only comes from taking on something that once seemed impossible.
You can make an expedition possible for a students to have experiences like Maggie’s by participating in or donating to the City Skyline Challenge!