Read Kiley’s amazing account of her adventure below:
"I learned about Outward Bound Canada from a school guidance counsellor who recommended me for the program. Thanks to a Brett Wilson Scholarship, I embarked on the West Coast Discovery trip in August 2015 for 21 days of camping, hiking and kayaking amongst the islands off the west coast of Vancouver Island. There, I saw breathtaking sights, explored the ocean and coastal rainforest, all while improving my kayaking and leadership skills. Along with like-minded and new friends, the experience was challenging both physically and emotionally, but I was rewarded with a life-changing adventure.
I was nervous at the outset, because I did not know what to expect and felt unprepared. I soon realized I had nothing to worry about because all of the participants were in the same position and what I did have was a positive attitude and determination to succeed. Our two amazing instructors, Erin and Emily, taught us everything we needed to know and helped us through each challenge. Throughout the trip I learned about navigation, tides, camping and wild life, with my favourite lessons being on tide pools. I saw incredible sights as we paddled around islands and through fog, sleeping on beautiful beaches and watching sunsets around the campfire. We were surrounded and even interacted with incredible wild life, such as bears and wolves on the islands and seals and porpoises in the ocean. One of my favourite experiences was discovering the beauty of bioluminescence, which made wading in the water at night feel like dancing in a sea of stars. But the definite highlight was ocean surfing under the guidance of world class instructors. The West Coast Discovery trip was a new adventure every day and an experience of a life time.
Every one of the 21 days presented challenges, and I was pushed to work just as hard as I played. I embraced the long and exhausting days, which I faced with a diverse group of amazing people from across Canada and the world. Each person brought different strengths but also weaknesses to the group, and we pushed hard to help each other. Taking turns leading and providing constructive feedback as to how we could each improve, we became stronger as individuals and transformed from strangers into a capable team. After being pushed so hard physically and mentally, and succeeding, I became confident in my own personal strength and I knew that I could face any situation when I returned home.
Days after returning from Outward Bound I entered my final year of high school (with a class credit from my trip) and took on significant leadership roles including Senior Pin. I transferred the work ethic I gained into making my school a more inclusive, more enjoyable and more collaborative environment. With new confidence in my leadership abilities and the inspiration from our trip leaders, I continued to find ways to be a role model for youth. I am now a Girl Guide leader and am passing on skills and stories to inspire a new group of explorers. These roles are rewarding in themselves, but I have also been honoured to receive recognition as valedictorian, Junior Citizen of the Year and the Governor General’s Sovereign’s Medal for Volunteers.
Outward Bound was an adventure of a life time. I took away unbelievable memories and lasting friendships. No one’s experience is the same and if the adventure is approached with an open mind and positive attitude, there is so much to be gained and to take forward into your future."