Written by: Anthony Benvenuto, Alumni
My Outward Bound expedition has been the most profound experience of my life. That feels powerful. I’m just shy of 50 days removed from the expedition, and I’m still beaming. Don’t get me wrong. Living out the lessons I learned along the way has taken work. It doesn’t happen on its own. It takes work and a supportive community.
I’m grateful that I have such a community, which now includes my Outward Bound Educators’ Initiative crew, Crew 8B, or Runny Hummus, as we are better known, to help me along the way. Yes, there is a story behind the name Runny Hummus. But that is a story for another time.
Before my course, I could have never anticipated the connections I’d build with my crew; we were strangers to one another afterall. But, I hoped I would build connections. I needed to.
Our evening meetings were powerful. They were deep, thought-provoking, and long. It didn’t seem to matter though. Time flew by without any of us taking notice. That is true group presence at its finest.
I don’t know what it was that opened all of us up. It could have been that one person who led with vulnerability and allowed the other crew members to feel safe enough to follow their lead. It could have been that witnessing others lean into fear and discomfort and achieve their “impossibles” fostered connection. It could have been that once you open up about pooping with a group of people, it becomes easier to open up about your emotions. I like to think it is a beautiful mix of it all. It is a powerful scene to look around you in a circle, see tears in everyone’s eyes, and feel tears welling up in your own because you were all moved by something that was shared. For us, our evening meetings took us to even higher peaks than the summit of Table Rock.
I did not leave my Outward Bound expedition a different person. I left embodying my most authentic self. I left embracing parts of myself that I had unknowingly exiled. Those parts never left. The smiles, the laughter, and the joy had never left. They were just hidden under the muck. My crew brought those exiled parts of myself back to the surface where they could breathe again. I felt seen, affirmed, and valued by my crew. They taught me that when I show up authentically, people can see me the way I want to be seen. I remember thinking, “I have so much love, respect, and gratitude for these people, and they see me in all of these ways. Maybe it is time to start seeing myself that way.” I will not go back into exile. I am here to stay.
I cried when it came time to leave Table Rock Base Camp. I cried because I was feeling sadness but also feeling a fullness of connection, joy, love, and gratitude. I carry the lessons I learned and the marks my crew left on me every day. I can feel and sense it, and so can others around me. People see me with more confidence, joy, and a zest for living. I would not be the man I am today without my experience with Outward Bound, and my experience would not have been what it was without my crew. For that, I feel immense love and gratitude.
Find people in your life that not only see you the way you want to be seen but also open up those portals to see yourself in new ways. I found those people at Outward Bound, and they are here to stay. Where will you find your people?