“I first heard about the Outward Bound Veteran's Program through other veterans. I had just medically retired from the military after 24 years and was interested in exploring the outdoors. I had associated the outdoors with work for many years and was a bit nervous; however interested. It took a lot for me to apply for the Sea Kayaking event in New Brunswick. I was not comfortable with water and focused on the fact this was something I had never done before, in the end I decided why not give it a try?
It was a memorable trip and I look back fondly on my time with Outward Bound Canada. I remember capsizing in the cold Atlantic and it was my confidence in the staff on the trip that kept me centered and focused on the trip and the experience as a whole, not that I capsized. I remember watching and talking with a Master Warrant Officer as he realized he was not responsible for setting up the camp or making sure dinner was started. He was a participant just like me… We were there to have fun and if we as participants wanted to change the plan we could! This was a bit of an alien concept and a great lesson to learn as I was no longer a soldier with a mission to complete. We were also able to accommodate and help other medically released soldiers with debilitating injuries. We set up the camp while they might start the stoves for dinner or put the hatch covers on the kayak. Everyone took part to the level they were comfortable with.
The Outward Bound Canada Veterans Program gave me the confidence to look after myself as well as presented challenges that can be met and overcome even though new and unknown. There were military members from all branches and all across Canada and I believe this trip offered everyone a chance at self discovery. On the trip you were not part of a larger machine as you are in the military, but your own person, a participant. The activities reinforced a new identity and I left refreshed with new ideas and the concept, ‘hey, I can do this!’ I was surrounded by like-minded people who had left, or were leaving the forces as I had.
It is important to share ‘your story’ and Outward Bound Canada, along with the adventure, gives you that opportunity. I remember sitting around a fire, talking about everything, and nothing. It was great to hear someone tell a story about their release and someone else say, “that happened to me too.” I challenge all veterans to take the opportunity Outward Bound Canada offers and challenge yourself along side others from the military in a similar spot in life.
I look forward to the next time I am Outward Bound. Be uncomfortable, only for a little while.”