For Rebekah Thomas of Dunedin, going on a recent Outward Bound course was one of the best experiences she has had. “It was a part of my life that I will never forget; it has helped me to become a better person,” she says.

Rebekah attended the Outward Bound ‘Mind, Body and Soul’ course at Anikiwa in Queen Charlotte Sound, following in the footsteps of her older brother and sister, David and Sarah, who attended earlier courses.

In David’s case this led to an outdoor education instructor and leadership course at the Otago Polytechnic, followed by a science degree at Otago University and a temporary position as head of department for outdoor education at Kaikorai Valley Intermediate in Dunedin.

Sarah went from the Outward Bound course to Otago Polytechnic, where she is also doing an outdoor education and leadership course.

Rebekah headed to Marlborough to meet with other course participants on 27 September. When she got to the ferry terminal she was surprised to see two girls from Dunedin that she knew through her hockey associations; and she immediately befriended a girl from Waiheke Island. Once everyone had assembled, they headed off on a water taxi to Anakiwa and it was ‘goodbye to Rebekah’ for three weeks.

Rebekah says Outward Bound was a wonderful experience. Every day started at 6am and participants took part in a wide variety of activities like tramping, sailing, kayaking, rock climbing, high ropes and personal training.

“We learned to show respect for others, to be more compassionate, gain motivation and to push ourselves to our limits.”

During the 21 days of the course, Rebekah lived with 13 teenagers. Cellphones and laptops were banned and the only form of communication with parents and others was through writing letters by hand. Rebekah says she loved learning to live without her cellphone. The participants also gave back to the community and one way in which they did this was by constructing a track for the Department of Conservation.

Toward the end of the course all participants ran a half-marathon and although she initially thought she could never do it, Rebekah not only completed it but came in third out of the girls. At the end of the course she caught the train back to Christchurch, pleased to have taken part in such an inspirational course.

Rebekah Thomas - inspired by Outward Bound.

Rebekah Thomas – inspired by Outward Bound.

Rock climbing was one of the many Outward Bound activities Rebekah enjoyed.

Rock climbing was one of the many Outward Bound activities Rebekah enjoyed.