Photo: John Griffiths. September 16, 2015
John Griffiths recounts his time spent completing Outward Bound’s Summit to Sea program – a 26-day journey that includes plenty of hiking as well as several stages of more technical challenges.
Originally designed to prove the mettle of mid-19th Century sailors, Outward Bound Australia’s premium Summit to Sea program has since been tailored to suit today’s environment while still providing challenging experiences.
I didn’t undertake Summit to Sea out of any desire for a physical challenge; I craved a task that would ensure I was tested in every way possible. Now I fully understand the saying, ‘be careful what you wish for’.
Starting in the Australian Capital Territory, the course covers some of Australia’s most mountainous terrain, eventually concluding on Victoria’s southern coastline. As such, there’s a large amount of hiking accompanied by some rafting, caving and bike riding legs.
There were other activities as well, but you won’t find out what they are until you’ve completed the main course (sorry).
In total, our group travelled nearly 360 kilometres over a 26-day timeframe. A solid effort, but the real challenge was presented by the conditions. The ever-changing environment added further layers of difficulty that really tested our mental and emotional toughness.
As a result of these various pressures, our group was stress-tested from beginning to end – had it not been for our ability to form an effective team, we may not have completed the first week of trials. The friendships we formed as a result of undertaking this course will no doubt last for years, and we all have Outward Bound to thank for that.
Course coordinator Nick, along with instructors Cassia, Alex and Mark all ensured we drew the most amount of benefit from each of the experiences we had. Their tireless efforts continued to instil confidence in us throughout the course and that’s something I never thought an experience like this would provide. I now feel like a stronger person in every way and that has a lot to do with the support they gave.
The greatest lesson learnt was that life really is about the journey and not the destination. Along the way, we saw some of the most mesmerising views that were made even more stunning when considering the effort it took to find them.
The completion of this course has given me the greatest sense of achievement in my life so far. It isn’t just the physical toughness that I am able to draw on, but the values and the beliefs that have all come out of this program has given me a more optimistic outlook on life.
Outward Bound’s motto is ‘To Serve, To Strive and Not To Yield’ and this is something I now take with me in everything I do. If only everyone could be encouraged to undertake such an extraordinary holiday.
*This article originally appeared in Wild issue 149. http://wild.com.au/people/opinion/outward-bounds-summit-to-sea-unforgettable-adventure/
To find out more information on Summit to Sea visit https://www.outwardbound.org.au/courses/summit-to-sea/
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