Many publications describe the beneficial impact of Outward Bound courses for participants. These publications describe improvements mainly in
- Character: displaying increased self-awareness and self-confidence while demonstrating understanding and compassion toward others, leadership and service.
- Leadership: demonstrating the ability to set goals, inspire and guide others to achieve them. Furthermore, exhibiting the ability to collaborate, communicate, solve problems and resolve conflicts effectively.
- Service: demonstrating social and environmental responsibility and a desire to actively engage in service to others.
New challenge – Step out of your comfort zone
“Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.”
One of the methods Outward Bound is using is based on a model of the comfort zone. This model, that was developed by Tuson (1994), describes how to respond to an unfamiliar situation. A comfort zone is a place where we feel comfortable – this is where most of us live our daily lives, and it provides a state of mental security.
The next zone is known as the stretch/learning/growth zone. This is a place outside of your comfort zone, and although it may be uncomfortable, you are not in any risk of panicking or experiencing emotional pain – this is a high support and high challenge environment. If you are willing to push yourself to get to the next level, to really challenge yourself and accomplish something, you can turn up amazing results.
Others suppose that by tackling tasks that are challenging and gaining a sense of achievement from success, participants gain a greater appreciation for their capabilities and thus develop the confidence to tackle future challenges that they may have otherwise rejected. This has a significant impact on the participants self-esteem.
According to Outward Bound philosophy, there is currently something else which can also contribute towards the beneficial impact on participants, and this is a:
Kind of DIGITAL DETOX during courses in Outward Bound Croatia
Courses running in Croatia are kind of a digital detox. During the first day in our centre, participants give us their technological devices, and the whole course is run without any possible contact with social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.)
For some of the participants, it can be a really tough time and a real challenge. I saw some participants having big problems with leaving their smartphone and being without them for three full days. I would say that they were almost in their panic zone, and this time I realised how powerful an impact social media can have on youth, and that addiction to social media could be a possible threat, and we should pay more attention to this phenomenon.
On the other hand, some of the participants accepted this challenge with a positive attitude and gave us their devices without any complaints.
Another beneficial tool in Outward Bound Croatia
We sense that our smartphones are making us less focused, less productive, and disconnected from our real lives, and results from scientific studies are slightly troubling. Social media appears to influence mainly our self-perception and communication with others. It promotes narcissism, makes us less empathetic and attentive, and in some cases can contribute to the development of serious mental disorders such as depression, panic and anxiety, obsessive-compulsive or attention deficit disorders.
Because of this, disconnection of social media during the course could have a beneficial effect on participants. Unplugging yourself from your smartphone could positively influence your connection with the world around you, and make you reconnect with people and the natural environment surrounding you. It can give you a sense of freedom and independence, increase mindfulness, and contribute to attention in the present moment without further distraction.
You have the possibility to be more relaxed, and your mind has time to think and reflect effectively.
At the end of the course, a few participants mentioned that they didn’t miss their phones during this time. They came to the realisation that they don’t have to constantly be connected to the outside world through social media and that they are able to spend time alone. Some of the youngsters evaluated this experience in a positive manner, and mentioned the gratuitous feelings of independence and having time just for yourself to think and reflect.
“From the hike to the campsite I learned about myself and had a lot of time to reflect on my life and how to overcome challenge”
participant OBC course
During this course, we observed that everyone became more open and helpful towards others. The participants grew up to be individuals, but also full-blown members of a larger team. The communication and cooperation within the group had a significant impact on this process of progress.
Disconnection from mobile phones could contribute to these positive outcomes, and perhaps more attention should be paid to the fact that digital detox, within Outward Bound courses, is a powerful and impactful tool. Less connection to the virtual world can allow participants to gain a sense of belonging, and also redefine their way of being. Moreover, it gives participants the opportunity to develop a greater understanding of themselves, of others, and of the community around them through insight into the physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual self and thus contributes to the achievement of the core elements of Outward Bound.
“I regard it as the foremost task of education to ensure the survival of these qualities: an enterprising curiosity, an indefatigable spirit, tenacity in pursuit, readiness for sensible self-denial, and above all, compassion.”
CABRAL, Jaclyn. Is generation Y addicted to social media? Future of children, 2008, 18:125.
EXETER, David J. Outward Bound: Learning in the Outdoors. Outward Bound Trust. 2001. ISBN: 0954778200
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