Outward Bound…recently I completed a six-day Outward Bound leadership course for professionals. It wasn’t life changing but it was enlightening. The Outward Bound course is just part of the year-long Denver Community Leadership Forum class that I’m in. The class and Outward Bound course contains 16 amazing people that I feel lucky to know. For most of the week the class was broken up into two groups of eight.
Each group had to immediately come up with a name, a song, and a movement. It’s a little bit of a long story, but we decided to call ourselves The Tykusaurus. Of course, our movement was a T-Rex-like arm movement and a roar. Here’s The Tykusaurus in mid-roar:
So what did we do all week? Lots. The days were packed. Day one was a ropes course and an activity called “the spider web.” The physical point of the activity is to get all eight of us from one side of the spider web (a series of holes created by rope and cord) to the other without touching the web. We couldn’t use one hole more than once. After a bit of deliberation and trial and error, The Tykusaurus overcame and eventually got everyone to the other side (not without some man-handling…).
Day two was devoted to rock climbing. I’ve done rock climbing in the past and used to do it with some frequency so the day wasn’t super challenging but I did have fun getting on some rock. Of course the debrief (which we had after every activity) was full of metaphors for life that were seen in the activity. Anyway, here is me on day two:
On day three we gathered (“circled up”) at 5:50 am to stretch, do exercises, and go on a run around the Outward Bound campus. This exertion was all in an effort to make ourselves hot because the thing we did next was strip down into bathing suits and dip our entire bodies into a super cold pond. I was seriously dreading this but after getting sufficiently sweaty, the dip wasn’t so bad.
Later we set off on our backpacking trip. Our group hiked a fairly steep 1.5 miles to Windsor Lake then set up camp. For a group of eight students, two instructors, and the class coordinator, camp consisted of three tarp tents and an instructor tent. That’s right – a tarp tent. This means you and your sleeping bag are somewhat sheltered from the elements and not nearly enough from the mosquitos.
The next morning we arose at 3:30 am to hike a peak. We were hiking by 5:00 am and gained a ridge in time for the sunrise:
I learned a valuable lesson that day about making sure a team is on the same page about the goal(s) for the day. But I’m not going to go into that. That night was the “solo night.” This means that each of us found an appropriate spot and set up a smaller solo tent that was not within sight distance of anyone else. We were to spend the solo time reflecting or doing whatever we wanted to do. I was so tired that I literally sat on a rock and swatted mosquitos for most of the time before crawling into the sleeping bag. This is a side view of my solo site:
On day five we returned to base camp, ate breakfast, debriefed our solo experience and backpacked out. This is the group at the end of the hike demonstrating the Tykusaurus roar:
That night each group did a skit to share their interpretation of the experience. So skit planning took up the bulk of the time before and after dinner.
Day six was for raft building and wall climbing – the groups were much more successful at wall climbing than raft building. Here’s a photo of the entire class after conquering the wall:
All in all, I’m glad I did it. The biggest take away for me was to remember that your friends or coworkers may be struggling even when they make tasks look easy. Many of us are good at putting up a strong, confident façade but you never know what is really going on with someone else.
That is all.