Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Alumni Profile: Krista Thrasher

When alumna Krista Thrasher saw a job posting for a new National Marketing & Events Coordinator at Outward Bound Canada she jumped at the opportunity – in fact, hers was the very first resume we received! After participating in a 2004 OBC Youth Challenge course, Krista’s passion for Outward Bound Canada and its programs never ceased. The organization held a very special place in Krista’s heart.  Now we are able to put her amazing strengths to work for all of our alumni, donors and prospective students and parents.  We are very excited to have her on board to work with all of you.

You can read more about Krista’s journey here:

“ It was 2004 and I was 14 years old. Like many 14-year-olds, I was in transition. I was a pre-teen, my hormones were raging in full force and I was just about to enter my freshman year of high school that September. To top it all off, I had just entered foster care. 

My body was changing, my school was changing and now my family was changing too. 

In order to help me process all these changes, Jared, my social worker, proposed I take an Outward Bound Canada course in the summer.

All I could think was, "21 days? That's pretty much an entire month!" Let’s be real, could I really pick up and leave my friends for 21 days? No shower for 21 days?! I saw it as a huge challenge but I was intrigued. I attended the information session and I was approved for the course, as well as a bursary. I decided to go, and that was it! It was settled. 

Two weeks before the course, Jared and I grabbed the course packing list and bought everything I would need for the trip. My course start-date was fast approaching and I was both terrified and excited. 

Day one of course crept up before I knew it. I said goodbye to Jared and he said, "Good luck! You'll do great!" When I got to the course start location and met the rest of the group there were about 10 girls in total, all of us going through our own very unique transitions. As soon as I met the entire group, I knew it was going to be an interesting journey. 

To start, we learned the basics of paddling and how to use the forest as a washroom, packed our bags and off we went. I remember it pouring rain for about 3 days straight. It was rough. We paddled and paddled. It seemed like we were making no progress at all, the wind was so strong. Our canoe kept filling with water, we were drenched. We kept moving, and eventually we would find a nice place to set up camp. We piled out of the canoes and scrambled for our dry shoes and clothes. I didn't realize it then, but I was so grateful for those dry socks and shoes. 

I also learned how to portage on course. I had no idea what portaging was but I soon found out. I remember climbing over these huge boulders thinking "how do these instructors expect everyone and everything to make it over this stretch? Are they nuts?" We did it. The self-doubt may have kicked in, but we pushed through. 

Mid-course was the 48-hour solo. I have to admit, I was dreading it. The thought of being alone for 48 hours made me sick. I hated being alone. I cried pretty much the entire time and when my instructors came by my site to check in, I would start rambling and try to talk their ear off at the chance for human contact. They would smile and carry on. It was all part of my journey. 

In 21 days I had learned how to portage, paddle a canoe, white-water kayak, rock climb, walk high-ropes, run 7km, create my own shelter in the woods and solo a canoe. Physically, I was learning new skills and building resilience. 

The coolest take-away looking back after 10 years is that I'm finally realizing my greatest strength. Although I remember acting as the motivator of our group in tough situations, I didn’t see it as a strength at the time. Mid-portage, or in the morning when it was time to get up and no one wanted to leave their tent, I'd encourage the girls and put a positive spin on things. I simply assumed that was just how I had operated in those specific situations. However, after pulling out my report card the other night (I received a high-school credit for my course) and reading comments from my instructors, it became clear that this was bigger than the occasional word of support, it is part of who I am. 

My Outward Bound course showed me where I thrive and where I need to be patient with myself. My greatest strength is positivity and it has carried me to where I am today. As for being at peace in solitude, I have come to terms with the fact that this will be a life-long practice for me, and that's okay. Outward Bound has helped me to identify this challenge in my life and has given me the stepping-stones to work with it.

OBC has always had a place in my heart, and it's no wonder. The course taught me resilience in a time I needed it the most. I was invited back to OBC the following summer to take a leadership course in the Rocky Mountains but unfortunately I didn't attend. After University I reached out to OBC to connect again, this time on a different level, with a marketing focus! It’s now 10 years later and my two worlds are colliding.

In closing, I would like to send thanks to every donor supporting Outward Bound Canada. You really can provide a life-changing experience for teens that need it the most. Not only did it help me when I was in one of the toughest times of my life, but it has followed through and helped me in some unexpected and wonderful ways throughout my life.” 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Powerful Impact of Boys-Only Programs

At Outward Bound Canada we believe that young boys need a safe but challenging environment to grow and a sounding board to help them reflect as they explore their place in the world and to determine where they see themselves heading. Who do they want to be as an adult? What are their responsibilities as a man? What are they good at? How can they develop better relationships at home or at school? What are their unique gifts and where is their place in the world?

A formal rite of passage traditionally helped young men find the answers to many of these questions. Every culture has a different tradition and timing for this particular milestone; however, they all generally have the same purpose - to propel a boy’s transition into manhood, giving him the confidence and tools he may need along the way. Decision-making is upon them and a rite of passage can act as a pivotal moment in their life, helping young men get to know themselves well enough that they can navigate through the years that lie ahead.

Today, when a boy definitively makes the transition into manhood is certainly up for debate. Is a boy’s rite of passage when he receives his driver’s license, allowing him the freedom to come and go at his own will? Or, when he transitions into high school? Or, maybe it's when he moves out of his family/guardian’s house?

In addition there are more and more young men struggling through their adolescence – whether they have difficulty with school, socializing outside of social media or video games or developing healthy relationships at home or in their communities.  Many young men simply seem unsure of themselves and how they fit in.

Our solution at Outward Bound Canada has been to develop boys-only programming that meets the needs of young men today who are a little lost and uncertain of what they are capable of. Furthermore, these boys-only programs have been around for decades and there's a reason! On course, boys learn important life skills such as caring for themselves, taking responsibility for their choices and confidently express their needs and opinions. Boys-only courses also allow for an open and honest dialogue where young men can feel comfortable discussing the unique challenges that they face without censoring themselves for a co-ed audience. Finally, by learning basic camping and wilderness skills, boys learn to take responsibility for themselves and connect through activities that generations of men before them had grown up learning.  This not only opens their eyes to new experiences, but it also helps them feel capable, skillful and sure of their abilities as they grow into men.

We are helping boys take charge of their life this summer. The following boys-only courses are available for the summer of 2014:

If you think this would be a great experience for your son, just click to sign him up today.