From an OBSA Instructors Point of View:

Shirley Botha Ex-Outward Bound South Africa Instructor

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Over the last few years I have seen so many people come on one of our course and I am privileged enough to witness their transformation. This is my point of view about an Outward Bound course:

I was one of the children who never had the opportunity to attend anything similar to an Outward Bound course while I was growing up. I went on numerous camps which was a great deal of fun, learning about nature and doing some crafty things, but none of these things were ever remotely challenging, just fun.

I understand the necessity of something like Outward Bound, which challenges individuals and pushes them to their limits. It puts them in a team with other individuals, who are also going through similar situations, pain and suffering and they have to stick together as a family, learning to support and encourage each other through hardships. It is in these extremely difficult times, that the greatest impact in growth is observed and also the reason why I am so absolutely passionate about my job.

Even though I did not get the opportunity to attend an Outward Bound course when I was younger. I am honoured to say that I truly got a concentrated shot of what Outward Bound is all about when I started working here and  now fully understand what individuals take away when they  complete our courses.

The first 3 months of my time at Outward Bound was utter hell. I was faced with fears and challenges from all angles, some fears I never even realized I had.  At times it felt like I was going to drown, literally (think kayak rolls) and figuratively. It felt like I did not have the strength in me to see this training through. An ordinary office job suddenly seemed quite alluring even though I absolutely hate the very idea of it.  At the end I took it like climbing a big hill.  You stop staring up at the distance that you still need to travel and start looking down at your feet, concentrating on each breath, each foot step, silently motivating and encouraging yourself to keep on pushing and to not give up.  This is one of numerous metaphors that I still apply in my daily life.  Whenever it feels like a project is too big for me to handle, I just focus on taking it one small step at a time.  My experience at Outward Bound has literally saved my life at least once that I know of, but that is a story for another  time.

I will always be deeply thankful for these years and the experience here at Outward Bound South Africa and the impact it had on me. It has enriched me with a huge amount of growth.  One thing I know for sure, is that one day I will most definitely send my own kids on an Outward Bound course.  They might think I hate them at that moment, but later on they will thank me and know it was done out of love. You can save a child from discomfort and difficult circumstances for the moment, or you can give them a valuable experience or lesson, which has the potential to equip and prepare them to succeed in the future or even have the potential to save their very lives.

If you have ever been on such a course, you know exactly how this feels.