Skills built during course

Dunedin teenager Isabel Sheehan (front row, third from left) is pictured with fellow members of ...
Dunedin teenager Isabel Sheehan (front row, third from left) is pictured with fellow members of "Cook Watch" during last year’s 21-day Outward Bound course in the Marlborough Sounds. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Dunedin teenager Isabel Sheehan, 17, is looking back on taking part in the "incredible adventure" of a 21-day Outward Bound course in December last year, and urging others to give it a go.

Last week, it was announced that the Otago Community Trust has awarded a $105,000 grant to the Outward Bound Trust of New Zealand to fund Youth Development Scholarships for young people across Otago.

The grant will support 25 pupils of Otago schools and youth training organisations to attend Outward Bound’s 21-day Mind Body Soul or Classic courses in the Marlborough Sounds.

Outward Bound provides challenging outdoor expeditions and activities to help young people develop life skills, such as resilience, self-confidence, team-work, goal-setting, leadership and environmental awareness.

Now in Year 13 at Columba College, Isabel Sheehan applied for and received a scholarship through the scheme in 2023, which helped cover most of the cost of taking part in a Mind Body Soul course in December.

"As part of my application, I was asked to write an essay about the scholarship and why I wanted to do the course, and the selection was made by two of the teachers," Isabel said.

The course itself, held in the Marlborough Sounds, had been challenging, but was a very rewarding experience, she said.

Isabel Sheehan
Isabel Sheehan
The 120 rangatahi taking part were separated into watches, with Isabel and 13 others aged from 16 to 18, from throughout New Zealand, brought together into "Cook Watch". This group remained together throughout the course, sleeping, eating, and taking part in a broad range of outdoor activities together.

"Spending every hour of every day with my team-mates was amazing, and we quickly became really close," Isabel said.

The days started early for Cook Watch, with wake-up at 5.30am followed by fitness training at 6am, then breakfast and a day of activities — from tramping and rock climbing, to sailing and waka ama.

"There was a real focus on developing leadership skills, working as a team, and stepping outside your comfort zone," she said.

"It taught me that I do have leadership skills, and that it’s possible to take charge and help others without having to be loud about it."

The course had definitely been a chance to "expand my skill set, especially my confidence and knowledge assets that will be invaluable as I start university and enter new social and physical environments", she said.

Otago Community Trust chairman Andy Kilsby said the organisation firmly believes in "the power of Outward Bound to shape our region’s young people into resilient, socially conscious leaders".

"This investment in scholarships develops the capabilities that allow recipients to thrive while making meaningful contributions to their communities."

The first cohort will attend courses beginning later this year.