Being Outward Bound
Kelsey Davis
Konneker-Cutler Scholar '15
Baird Tomlinson

Immediately after receiving the incredible news of my being selected as the Konneker-Cutler scholar, I found myself propped in front of the computer monitor searching for the Outward Bound website. I was ecstatic that I would be given the opportunity to participate in such a trip. Though each location available held different aspects that lured me in its direction, one course in particular caught my attention: Alaska Sea Kayaking. In fear that the scarce ten slots for this trip would quickly be filled, I concocted my proposal and sent it off for approval in record time. Within minutes of receiving the green light to book my course, I had contacted the organization and paid the deposit to secure my position.


My reasoning of choosing Alaska as my location to visit was to place myself as far out of my realm of comfort as possible. I had never been given an opportunity to visit this state and there was a great possibility that I would not be allotted one again. So many aspects of Alaska were unknown to me, making the experience of visiting it at its rawest form completely fascinating. Taking part in an Outward Bound course allows a person to develop strength in the process of overcoming weaknesses. I purposely placed myself in a location where I would be at my most vulnerable in hopes of emerging with an immense amount of growth.


Putting myself far out of my comfort zone allowed me to experience great amounts of struggle. It seemed that every day, a new challenge surfaced for me to tackle. Some difficulties were obvious obstacles that I knew I would have to face. These included the issues of not being able to shower, using the restroom outside, getting swarmed with bugs that seemed to be immune to any spray we soaked ourselves with, and trying to sleep in a place where the sun never quite set.


For all of the difficulties I faced over my eight-day course, the most rewarding aspect was the rush of accomplishment after overcoming a great obstacle. I feel that there is a very evident link that connects challenges and rewards. Without risk, the feeling of triumph doesn’t exist. “If there was never such thing as the cold or the rain, no one would appreciate the warmth of the sun,” I scribbled into my bent up journal during my serene solo time. I also wrote, “If life was always easy, it would be boring. The most difficult of times are the moments when character is built. After this trip, I feel like Walt Disney.”


I will forever be in debt to Dr. and Mrs. Konneker for the vast amount of skills and lessons I learned while taking part in Outward Bound and will now put to use in everyday life. Placed within a group of peers that all are considered leaders within their own communities, I could view various approaches to leadership and their effectiveness. I believe that the most successful leader is the one that you don’t even know exists. During my course with Outward Bound, my instructors modeled leadership by example; doing what needed to be done rather than tossing out orders and responsibilities for each to manage. My skills in communication also developed immensely as the course progressed. I learned that when making your voice heard in a group of individuals, it isn’t the volume of which you make your message but the message you make that matters.


Without question, my experience in Alaska was the highlight of my life to this date. I learned more about myself in eight days that I had in almost eighteen years. I faced my flaws head on and conquered them; I discovered an immensurable strength within myself that I never knew to have existed previously. I feel so blessed that I was capable of going on such an eye-opening quest. While in Alaska, I sought ways to strengthen my weaknesses that have held me back. The Outward Bound course allowed me to explore within myself and discover a calm that I can revert back to when stress becomes too much to handle. I not only addressed my flaws, but also found ways to overcome them. Also, I learned more about my assets and increased my confidence.


Besides finding myself in the midst of struggle and self-doubt, I found a very special group of individuals that I am honored to call my friends. Though we were only together for eight days, I feel as if I’ve known them for my entire life. We all share something that no one else will quite understand. We can show slideshows of pictures, we can retell stories, but no one else will understand what happened out in the wilderness of the Prince Williams Sound. The nine of us will forever have a bond that cannot be broken. After attending and completing my course, I now understand the meaning and honor of being Outward Bound.