Maddy Wells got to go on an adventure of a lifetime this summer.
She went on a 21-day sea kayak adventure thanks to an Outward Bound scholarship at David Thompson Secondary School.
The kayak trip brought Invermere resident Maddy through the Clayquot Sound off Vancouver island. While she had kayaked on the lake before, Maddy said sea kayaking was, “a lot more difficult.”
The trip was a steep learning curve but one that Maddy was happy to make.
“I felt really fortunate and lucky to be able to go,” she said. “It was a mental and physical challenge.”
Every day the group of 10 students and two instructors paddled. Their shortest day was three nautical miles (5.5 km), their longest was 16 (almost 30 km). Maddy said early on by the end of the day she did not know how she could continue. By the end, she had built endurance and confidence and could go for hours paddling and still feel strong.
The number of new skills Maddy learned was a huge aspect to the trip.
“We learned how to use a compass and how to find our bearings. We learned wilderness skills like building small, effective fires and ‘leave no trace’ camping,” she said.
Maddy said more than these concrete skills, she learned a lot about herself too.
“I learned I want to be able to push myself more, and to encourage others,” she shared. “I never just want to be OK. I want to choose adventure, to do something.”
During the trip, they took two days to surf on Vargis Island, a newfound passion for Maddy who had never surfed before. They also did a massive 14 kilometre round trip hike up a steep mountain. Maddy admits if she saw that big of a hike on her own, there is no way she would have done it. But now, she can look back with an immense feeling of accomplishment knowing she made it.
For the 21 days, they had no access to technology, something unusual for a teenager these days.
“I didn’t miss the social media. I just missed connecting with my mom and friends,” Maddy shared.
One occasion that stands out to Maddy is when they spent almost 48 hours solo. Each person spread themselves out along a beach with a 40 metre gap between their tarp set-ups. She spent the time alone with her thoughts, writing letters to her future self, to loved ones back home. They were encouraged to come back with gifts for each member too. Maddy found some rope and spent a lot of time looking for shells with holes to turn into jewelry for her fellow participants.
According to Lisa Tenta, DTSS vice principal, Maddy was selected for the scholarship because she is an active member of the DTSS Respectful Relationships Youth team and would represent the school well.
“Maddy is a kind and caring young lady who has a positive influence on our school community; she is true leader,” commented Ms. Tenta following the scholarship announcement. “Maddie will be an excellent ambassador for our school community and will generously share her experience with our school district when she comes back from her outdoor adventure.”
Outward Bound Canada, a not for profit, charitable, educational organization, began in 1969. Since that time, over 150,000 Canadians have taken part in life changing programs that have invited self-discovery and inspired potential. Outward Bound Canada operates on the philosophy that “There is more in you than you think,” and provides the guiding principle for all Outward Bound experiences. Each Outward Bound course is much more than just learning the technical skills of canoeing, rock climbing, kayaking, backpacking and dogsledding. It’s designed to be an incredible and indelible journey of self-discovery. The entire purpose of the program is to cultivate resilience, leadership, connections and compassion through inspiring and challenging journeys of self-discovery in the natural world. More information and specific details about the trips can be found at: http://www.outwardbound.ca/.