There is more to us than we know. If we could be made to see it, perhaps for the rest of our lives, we will be unwilling to settle for less.” – Kurt Hahn
Kurt Hahn was an educator. He was responsible for training the British sailors during WWII.
He watched young men going through insanely difficult exercises, such as staying still in one spot in the sea for 3 hours, and realized soldiers came to an awareness of themselves. The training taught them about the gap between what they thought as their limits and where their limits were actually standing. He thought “Why is it, it times of war, that people rise to such heights?”
The answer being, without the pressure, they would have never discovered what they were capable of.
After WWII, having seen the impact of the physical and mental resilience had on soldiers, he decided to create a similar environment for young adults to explore their capacities and challenge their limits. He co-founded “Outward Bound” an outdoor education and adventure program which now runs in about 33 countries.
I was lucky my family knew about Outward Bound way before I was born. It was sort of a tradition as many of my older cousins have been through it and consequently, I was encouraged to try it.
My journey with Outward Bound started with an easy program when I was 16. However, when I was 19, I convinced myself to take their “Ultimate Adventure” course, which was known to be the hardest one offered in the UK. The course was 3 weeks of continuous camping, traveling to south of Wales and up north again by hiking, canoeing and climbing. Everyday consisted of about a 20km hike while carrying a 15kg backpack, waking up 4 in the morning and going back into the tent around 10. Between an extremely sore body, no shower, always-wet clothes and fighting with the mosquitos, I did not know what to deal with first.
Outward Bound usually hits participants’ limits at the last expedition. In our case, we had to hike 100km in 3 and a half days.
From the morning of our last expedition, I was sure I was going to die. No joke.
The physical pressure was unbearable, and I knew my body could not handle it. By that point, we already had 2 people who could not continue, and I knew I was going to be next.
Although, surprisingly, I made it back to the base camp, alive.
Now, after a couple of years, that journey is something that I identify myself with. Not only it made me mentally more resilient, it also embedded a constant appreciation for little things in me. Back then, dry clothes or a piece of flapjack would have brought me unspeakable joy, and today, I am lucky I still carry that feeling. Outward bound made me stretch my limits and taught me whenever I feel that I’m about to die, I won’t. Instead, I will have a story to tell, long after the moment is passed.
Hotelier with a passion for organic farming
Fun fact: Hiked 100km in 3 days.