Wilderness – July 2023
English | 86 pages | pdf | 45.97 MB

Welcome at Wilderness Magazine July 2023 issue

I’VE NEVER DONE an Outward Bound course, though I have been similarly challenged while at school and through Hillary Outdoors. Experiences like these, where we are thrown from our comfort zone and must find inner strength to pull throught and overcome challenges either alone or in a group, can be transformational. At the heart of such courses is the learning of resilience. We learn that we are capable of so much more than we thought – we are all stronger, mentally and physically, than we realise.
The courses I have attended, at various stages beginningwhen I was 15 and the last at 28, have often involved misery, but are always fun in hindsight and full of practical outdoor experience.
But the strength of these courses is that, although they are set in the outdoors, the lessons learned can see us through all life challenges. Even to this day, I look back to 15-year-old me on a 10-day school trip to Tongariro National Park where my feet froze in the snow and my tent-mates and I spent a sleepless night battered by gale force winds that flattened every other tent but ours.
The memory of the incessant cold, the misery of hiking day after day mixed with the elation of surviving the storm intact and knowing we had done 10 days in the wild, has helped see me through countless life challenges. Having read Kathy Ombler’s feature (p56) about her eight-day Outward Bound course, it seems her experience reflects mine: lots of grumbling, lots of discomfort masses of team bonding and personal growth. That’s one reason why, in Outward Bound’s 60th year, Wilderness made the organisation one of the charities supported during the 2023 Walk1200km challenge. Participants have been raising money for Outward Bound by completing the challenge and Wilderness Magazine will be donating at least 600$ to the organization once i finish it in October this year ($1 for every kilometre walked split between Outward Bound and the Mental Health Foundation).
Outward Bound is almost a rite of passage. Many of us know of people who have done a course (or whose kids have done one). And while Outward Bound has necessarily moved with the times in regards to health and safety and accessibility to courses – men only in the beginning, then women and now courses for those with an intellectual or physical disability, migrants and a scholarship programme to ensure courses are available to all New Zealanders – much remains the same. Chiefly, that uncompromising notion that within us is the strength and resilience needed to navigate life’s challenges – whatever they may be.

Alistair Hall

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