Surviving or Courage?

Oct 09, 2020 by Valerie Taylor, in My Blog

The most courageous thing I’ve ever done occurred twenty-five years ago when I joined seven strangers (five women, two men) on a weeklong Outward Bound canoeing and camping adventure on the Boundary Waters of northern Minnesota. I was 45, out of shape, and more comfortable reading a book than a map of a massive lake with its narrow waterways, swamps, and hidden campsites.


Why did I take myself out of my comfort zone? That’s easy. My daughter was exploring a two-week Outward Bound program in the Rockies. She was 16, in shape, and approached risk with less trepidation than I ever had. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t allow her to do something as dangerous as that without me there to protect her unless I experienced something similar first.


So, I bought heavy hiking boots, walked miles around town to break them in, and packed bug spray, three pairs of socks, the few other vital items they’d allow in our backpacks. I even went to the gym in a futile attempt to build up stamina and upper body strength. After all, there was a 70-pound canoe waiting for me to singularly hoist above my head.


As it turned out, portaging was easier than mastering knots, steering a canoe, or rescuing the huge brown pack back containing the team’s cooking utensils as it and I tumbled into the icy cold lake waters when our canoes attempted to navigate rapids.


I tried rock climbing, rappelling, and a ropes course, slept solo one night on a secluded cliff, pitched tents, and out-canoed a thunderstorm. I listened to the loons sing, oohed and aahed at meteor showers, and admired our national bird swoop along the tops of trees.


What did I discover about myself? While I might lack courage, I am a survivor. The Outward Bound experience has had a profound everlasting impact on the way I approach life’s challenges, and I’d recommend the program without reservation.

Originally posted on Cheryl's Book Nook as part of the iRead Book Tour of What's Not Said.