My name is Grace*, I am 16 and I grew up fatherless, with just my Mum and older brother. Mum is a beneficiary, and most of my family are gang affiliated. I’ve always felt like I would just be a statistic – that I would never get anywhere, and that my life would be a constant cycle of trying to get by day by day, week by week.
Earlier this year, one of my teachers who had been helping me with my attendance and academic results, asked if I was interested in going to Outward Bound. She knew I needed something that would help me understand that it was possible to break free of all the things that held me back. She showed me the Outward Bound website, and I spent ages reading and watching videos about the course. After we finished researching I knew that Outward Bound was for me. I wanted to experience all of it. A little spark started to burn in me, telling me I had to do this.
When I told Mum I was going to Outward Bound, she was very hesitant. She didn’t really know what it was and the first thing she said was “we can’t afford it”. When I told her I had a scholarship she said okay, but then she was wondering how I was going to get there and get all the equipment. But she didn’t need to worry about that either – my school helped me by buying my gear and booking my transport. They provided a lot of support because they really wanted me to go.
My Outward Bound journey started on my own, I left home alone and got myself to Picton. I was so nervous I didn’t know what to expect. I remember I had so many questions running through my head. What if I get lost? Am I dressed appropriately? Who will be the others on my course, will I know anyone, and will I be fit enough?
Getting to the top of Mount Cullen as part of our 3 day hiking expedition, was the highlight of my course. Looking out above the clouds was such a euphoric feeling. I felt like I let all my burdens go when I got to the top. It was a turning point for me. Our instructor talked about how our journey up was like life. It has ups and down and times when you just want to give up, but when you look back you realise you just have to keep moving forward. Once at the top our team bonded – it was like there was something in the air. We all shared personal things about ourselves and had lots of hugs and laughs.
Something I discovered at Outward Bound was that I could make myself happy – that I am responsible for my feelings and that I am in control. This makes me determined to make things better for myself.
Since finishing Outward Bound I’ve decided I want to be a lawyer. My dream is to become a Crown Prosecutor. If that doesn’t work I want to be a teacher and inspire kids the same way my teachers inspired me.
*Name changed for privacy reasons.
Outward Bound is supported by the Macpac Fund for Good. The Fund for Good is the charitable fund we started to support individuals and organisations committed to creating positive change for people and the planet.