“Delivering my eldest son to Wheeler Bay for a Hurricane Island Outward Bound pulling boat adventure a few years ago, I was instantly transported back to 1978 when my own parents dropped me at the airport for my first Outward Bound experience. I vividly recall being anxious. What was I getting myself into? Had I broken in my leather hiking boots sufficiently? Would I make friends? No toilet for a month … Really? I was totally self-absorbed and focused on my own belly button. My parents said their goodbyes and there were probably hugs, but all I remember from that moment of departure was the $20 bill my father slipped into my hand saying, “Get yourself a t-shirt.” Then they were gone. I didn’t have the time or the empathy to consider what my parents were thinking.
A month later, when I stepped off the airplane—very tired and a bit smelly, but glad to be home—my mother scanned the arrival gate, not seeing her son at first. After a few seconds, she recognized me and saw the physical changes: deeply tanned, brighter eyes, thinner and more fit than she had expected, and unshaven (when did that happen?). I had so much to tell them and launched in before we’d reached the car. It was the fullest conversation I had ever had with them.
Years later my mother shared with me how she immediately began to recognize the other changes as well, the non-physical ones, that I brought home with me from the course. My head was held a little bit higher. I was more ready to accept responsibility and take on new challenges. I spoke to her and my dad with more appreciation in my voice.”
HIOBS parent & former instructor