Photo: Cameron Tonks with his tutor.
Going on an Outward Bound course was a life-changing experience for Khandallah teenager Cameron Tonks.
Cameron, now 18 and an engineering student at Auckland University, took part in a 21-day Mind Body and Soul course a year ago.
“It was amazing,” Cameron says. “The big thing was not what the instructors taught you. It’s what you taught yourself.”
Cameron says his father encouraged him to enrol at Outward Bound. “My dad went many years ago. Ever since I was a young age he said it was the best thing he’d ever done.”
Cameron spent three weeks at Anakiwa in the Marlborough Sounds with 10 other teens sharing the experience of a lifetime. But it was no holiday. “We started with a three-day tramp. Then we learned how to sail a cutter. That was followed by a six-day expedition that combined sailing and tramping. The hardest part was that it rained all the tame. We constantly wet and my sleeping bag was soaked.”
He says the hardest part of the course was a solo expedition lasting two nights and three days. “We were dropped off on a small island with a small amount of food. We then trekked to set spot where we were only allowed to move 20 metres in any direction. There wasn’t much to do. I did some fitness and running around. Then I say there and thought about my families and friends and what I wanted to do with my life. Most of the course was physical. But this was the big mental side – being by yourself and having time to think.”
The final activity of the course was a half marathon. “As I crossed the finish line I was proud of myself for doing the course – and finishing it.”
Cameron says he has recommended Outward Bound to all his friends. He says he would love to do it again but says the opportunity is unlikely to arise.
Despite being familiar with the outdoors, thanks to many family hunting and fishing trips, Cameron says Outward Bound was a whole new experience. “The biggest thing about it is it takes you out of your comfort zone.”
Outward Bound is celebrating its 50th birthday in 2012. To find out more and see a list of activities go to www.outwardbound.org.nz