Each summer, the Carolina Center for Public Service awards North Carolina Outward Bound School (NCOBS) scholarships to participants in the Buckley Public Service Scholars program, Carolina Leadership Development and the School of Education to spend 28 days on-course at NCOBS. Austin Gragson ’17, a Buckley Public Service Scholar participant, recently returned from Outward Bound School and shares his reflection of the experience.
What started as initial excitement and wanderlust for the impending adventure quickly faded to soreness and frequent, periodic thoughts of “how am I going to survive this?” With time, I learned to appreciate the opportunity that was given to me. I made it my mission to learn a lesson or two before I was free from what I believed would be never-ending waves of challenges.
However as the days passed what started as impossible tasks became old tricks. I started to internalize Emerson’s quote that has become an old mantra of Outward Bound – “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”
The daily challenges presented to my crew were no longer a matter of if our bodies could make it through but rather if our minds could. This subtle switch in perspective provided for an incredible improvement in performance as I realized what was holding me back was not what my body couldn’t withstand but what I thought I couldn’t withstand.
Through my experience I learned to meet challenges with a smile and jumped into uncomfortable situations instead of running away from them. I was also challenged to broaden my perspective of service. My instructors expanded my definition of service beyond a “big picture” point of view. They encouraged me to look for “micro-service” that benefits those around me. We are always able to give back to others around us and we don’t have to purposely seek out a new environment in order to serve others.
Learn more about the Center’s Outward Bound scholarships.