“We got this,” “You can do it,” “Nothing can stop us, we’re all the way up,” “Started from the bottom now we’re here” “This is amazing” “Now it’s all worth it” “This is a turning point for me,” and my favorite, “Ewwwww, what’s that smell?….. That’s Us.”
These are just a few of the phrases heard over five days last week. I’ve seen dirt, vomit, nervousness, fear, amazement, and joy, but most of all I saw compassion, resilience, and fierce determination. Outward Bound pushed these young people beyond what they thought were their limits and unlocked potential they never imagined they possessed. As Dr. Murray described when we unloaded the bus, we slayed a lot of “I-Can’t Bugs” on this trip and incredible transformations were made.
I overheard the ones with nervousness about being away from home laughing uncontrollably underneath the tarp with their friends. The ones with a fear of heights rock climbed up the chimney just a little bit further as their classmates shouted encouragement from below. The ones hesitant to be in a crew without their besties created new bonds and support systems. The picky eaters bravely tried the food on course to realize refried beans and cheese chunks weren’t so bad after all! And the ones who thought there was no way they could climb to the top of the mountain with a 50 pound pack stood at the top and shouted “we made it!”
When someone was feeling ill and one more step up the giant hill in the beaming sun with a heavy pack simply wasn’t an option, another crew member always stepped up to take some of the weight…and with a little less weight, the sick kept going! I have watched students learn lessons during this trip that many people don’t learn in a lifetime. How fortunate they are to have had the chance to be pushed so far, yet always remain safe. As cliche as it sounds, I watched this crew learn the true meaning of four little words “You can do it.” They heard these words for years leading up to this trip and I had the joy of watching those words turn into a belief.
Lessons ranged from straightforward tasks like filtering water, cooking meals, and how to spit toothpaste wide and far as to not attract bears to life-altering ones like how to cope, how to push themselves, how to give and receive support, and possibly the most amazing to witness, the ability to see God’s creation for all of the love and beauty with which it was crafted. In a world where we are always on the go and constantly being pumped with information, they learned to sit still in awe and reflect. We came by some of these lessons easier than others, but they were learned and we are all better for it!