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A parent’s view of Outward Bound - a provider of courses supported by The Tony Trust.

Jane H shares with us why she believes a summer with Outward Bound can be good for the kids.

The Outward Bound Trust had a life changing impact on my teenage son. A few years ago I was considering how best my eldest, who was 17 at the time, could be occupied and motivated over the long summer holidays.

Suffering from dyslexia, academic work had not been something he found easy to excel at, so school was viewed as too much hard work and primarily somewhere to socialise with friends and mess around. I knew that left to his own devices during the summer, he would do nothing much except hang out with friends, watch television and play video games. I really despaired about what to do with him.

Then I remembered reading about The Outward Bound Trust and had a vague recollection of a classmate of mine attending one of the courses years ago, when I was at school. Having looked at all the wonderful courses on offer, I decided there was nothing else to do but to throw my son in at the deep end and enrol him on to one of the most challenging courses of all: the Ultimate Expedition at Loch Eil, 19 days under canvas, exposed to the elements out in the Scottish Highlands.

My son was not at all keen, particularly when he heard that there would be no opportunity to play video games on his laptop AND probably no signal for his mobile phone. I gave him no choice, go he must! I was hoping that he might return from the trip more motivated, less lazy and better behaved but I really wasn’t at all optimistic that this would happen! How wrong I was…

When he returned, he was a different person: more responsible, more confident and, most importantly, he had more self-respect. He had been tested and pushed to his limits and had surprised himself by how much he was capable of.

He returned from his Outward Bound course with an appreciation not only of how beautiful the landscape was but also of how demanding the wilderness could be on both your physical strength and your mental determination.

Climbing the North Face of Ben Nevis (1,344m above sea level), being left to his own devices overnight in remote areas on the ‘Solo’ challenge with not much more than a tarpaulin for shelter and some basic rations, leading a team and being responsible for them on a trek through the mountains whatever the prevailing weather conditions, were all new skills that my son had to master and quickly too.

His new found confidence in his abilities helped him to believe that he could achieve something at school and, to my surprise, he has ended up going on to study for a degree at university. He agrees that his Outward Bound course was a turning point for him in helping him to mature and realise his potential.

His younger brother, having completed a 7-day Serious Adventure Rock at Ullswater, now can’t wait to embark on the same 19-day Ultimate Expedition this coming summer holiday! As a parent I have found The Outward Bound Trust to have been an amazing motivator and confidence builder for my teenage children.

[Reproduced from the Outward Bound Trust's website with their kind permission]

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