Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Alumni Profile: Daniel Kelly

From Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Daniel is active in student government at his school, as well as being a peer tutor and a member of his school's improv team. As such, he made an outstanding candidate for a 2014 RBC Aboriginal Youth Leadership Scholarship.  

Upon returning from his trip, Daniel sent a heartfelt thank-you letter to RBC Foundation, who funded his Outward Bound course. His experience mirrors what we have heard from so many of you over the years. It is a reminder of why Outward Bound Canada and generous partners like RBC are deeply committed to Outward Bound’s charitable initiatives, including the RBC Aboriginal Youth Leadership Scholarship Program.
Here’s what Daniel had to say:

To the Wonderful RBC,

In the following letter I can only begin to describe my immense gratitude.  Thank-you, thank-you for this life changing experience that I could’ve never had, had it not been for your generous donation.  The RBC Aboriginal Youth Leadership Scholarship brought me an opportunity that I will never forget.

I left my home on Vancouver Island, British Columbia and travelled across the entire great nation of Canada.  Far, far away from my home and comfort zone I lived through the greatest adventure of my life. The Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick became my home for the following two and a half weeks. In this home I laughed, I cried, created bonds with new people and was pushed to the absolute limit of my abilities.

We spent the first night getting to know our new family. It was strange at first but soon we warmed up to each other. Nervous and excited, we went to sleep.  The following days we spent in and around the marvelous and extreme tides of the misty Bay of Fundy. We paddled around the coast, stopping only to camp and eat.  We lived in our boats. I christened mine ‘Lemon of Hope’ after its bright yellow colour. We became salty and sandy, learned about the tides and water, tried sardines for the first time and developed a passionate hate for wetsuits. We learned how to stuff a dry sack, carry a kayak and do the sweep stroke by sitting on our life jackets. My aching arms and soaked feet became a sign of satisfaction and enjoyment. My biggest success of the trip came as I led the kayak fleet back to our home-base campsite, fulfilling my role as ‘Leader of the Day.’

We finally exited our boats for the last time. We said goodbye to our pumps, paddles and neoprene gloves. We packed up our hiking backpacks and headed into the coastal wilderness for our intense hiking trip. Never have I felt so bitten, tired, damp and smelly as I did during our backpacking expedition. Pitching our tents every night and painstakingly boiling water over our tiny camp stove. On our final three days the sky opened up and the water just poured.  The perpetual state of being wet became my biggest challenge.  We truly became a team and family during those hard days. When you are the coldest and wettest you’ve ever been, huddled with nine other people under a single tarp, a bond is formed. 

I shared this time with a group of crazy, amazing and inspirational people that I will never forget. I shared some insane highs with this group, a full-out water war between the kayaks that carried on to the beach under the gorgeous sunshine.  And some pretty dismal lows, shivering and wet and exhausted with nothing dry in sight as the rain pounded on. 

This experience has changed my life.  Never will anything be as amazing (or awful) as my experiences on Outward Bound. My eyes have been opened as I was exposed to a plethora of brand new and amazing things. I can never fully express how deeply and truly thankful I am for this wonderful time.


Daniel Kelly