Allison Plean: Circle up |

Allison Plean: Circle up

Climbing on, on belay, on climb, uh – I could never remember the language the first-time around when I took a rock climbing class in college. And I had never rock climbed outside of my university’s climbing gym until this weekend.

Rock climbing was something I always turned down the opportunity to do (like mountain biking) because I was so intimidated by all the “professional” action sporty people in this town.

I was afraid I couldn’t keep up, or I would disappoint my fragile ego.

But not only did I reach the top of many different routes on Turtle Rock in Buena Vista, I was able to overcome the hardest part of the climbs – wearing the unflattering blue helmet.

I attended my first Outward Bound course this weekend in Leadville and came home with a lot of scratches, a lot of bruises and a rejuvenated spirit.

They must have taught me something.

Outward Bound is based on principles of hands-on learning through outdoor adventure. Everything we did, whether it was repelling or talking around a campfire while making s’mores, involved a metaphor that we could translate to real life.

Outward Bound is a nautical term for a ship’s departure from the certainties of the harbor.

And the course was about challenging yourself away from life’s distractions.

The instructors taught us how to recognize where our comfort zone is and that stepping just outside of the bounds makes it bigger.

We laughed every time they turned some simple task into a metaphor that made that task not as simple anymore.

And a weekend in the woods reminds you of the basics: adventure, challenge, compassion, trust, choices, character development and confidence.

Every day, we get lost in our daily dramas – trying to be on time, hit deadlines and accomplish the sometimes unrealistic expectations.

Last weekend was about living in the moment.

We rock climbed in the same place where they trained World War II soldiers in basic survival skills.

We got in a circle every time we discussed anything in a group.

We even “circled up” while we ate every meal so you could see and hear everyone.

The bonds you build with your “teammates” are equivalent to the bonds you build with people you survive traumatic events with.

We may not see each other very often, but when we do see each other, we are reminded of the lessons we shared.

On the last night, we slept outside in the woods with just two sleeping bags, a pillow, a flashlight, a journal and relative safety.

Life has none of the safe challenges of Outward Bound. There isn’t always a safety check, a belayer and an ugly blue helmet.

That’s why they teach you to trust yourself and face all vulnerabilities with courage.

And when we left the camp and got back in our cars to drive home, we were outward bound.

Hoping to remember the teachings of a culture based on life’s basic principles and hoping to forever translate them to our real world.

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