Why I Reckon Kids Should Rough It at Least Once a Year
Does everyone know what Outward Bound is? It’s an organisation that runs expedition based programs for youths and it’s largely considered a rite of passage for year nine and ten kids. It runs for 7 days of personal development in the beautiful national parks of northern NSW.
Activities include raft building, kayaking, abseiling, a TON of hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, and more. The participants must work together in teams, encourage and support each other in every activity and it runs rain, hail, snow or shine. The kids sleep under make-shift tarps in sleeping bags and discover the real meaning of roughing it.
There are no treats allowed from home including electronic devices, phones or food of any description. They can take snacks on the bus for the trip there but that’s it and all their gear is searched to make sure no one tries to sneak in a Tim Tam or three.
And I was scared to death when my daughter and son did it. I honestly didn’t think they could cope.
My daughter loves her creature comforts and is a complete wuss when it comes to the outdoors. We have always been a family that camps and she HATED getting dirty, refused to help in any cooking and basically acted like she was being tortured every time we went.
My son was OK with getting dirty and roughing it, but what the hell was he going to survive on food-wise? This was (still is) a guy who pretty much survived on Milo, Cocoa Pops and chips. He hates fruit, vegetables, muesli, bread, cheese, sauces (apart from BBQ sauce) and most things I ever set in front of him. And, at the time he was due to ship out was suffering from some seriously bad acne and was on a strict regime of face washes, astringents and creams to try and combat it. Knowing full well they had zero access to a shower for the entire time I wondered how bad it would get when hygiene was completely obliterated for 7 days.
The result? They both THRIVED. They loved every minute of every challenge, the team-bonding, the physical challenges, they shared every minute of what they experienced with us including the friendships they forged, the hard parts, the emotions they went through and all the fun and laughter that went along with the experience.
My daughter had her hair plaited before she left and it was a frizzy, tangled mess when she got home and she was filthy from head to toe. The only negative was that she’d neglected to change her socks for pretty much the entire duration and her feet were rotten for weeks despite copious soaking in tea-tree drenched buckets of sudsy water.
And my son? If you can believe it – his skin was better than it had been in months despite the lack of running water and washing. And get this – he begged me to buy him oranges, fruitcake and canned no-name potato salad from Coles (I didn’t even know such a thing existed) because it was all so “incredibly delicious”.
And I did – I couldn’t race off to buy him fruit fast enough but alas these newly discovered tastebuds did not last once he was home and was no longer exhausted from 9 hours of hard yakka and so hungry he would’ve eaten his left arm.
Still, they buzzed for weeks. They were appreciative of their home, their bed, home-cooked food and even pitched in willingly for a while around the house when asked.
Pity it was a one-off for their school. But I would have been absolutely rapt to have them do it every year!