Written by: Sabrina Delk
We often hear from our alumni about how Outward Bound has changed their lives. For the Hoff Twins—Rhoen and Emma—the challenges they met on their NCOBS courses serve as lasting reminders of their tenacity and confidence.
Rhoen was the first to learn about North Carolina Outward Bound School (NCOBS) when her ninth-grade teacher spoke to her about the Rufus M. Dalton Leadership Scholarship. This scholarship supports students from Mecklenburg County to attend a tuition-free 22-day Outward Bound course in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Rhoen applied for the scholarship and was selected a month later.
Prior to her 22-day course, Rhoen had hiked with her family but never backpacked. She recalls some very taxing moments on course—carrying a heavy backpack and canoeing through whitewater rapids—and also moments of great peace. Rhoen enjoyed being in nature and felt it provided a calm environment in which to get to know her crewmates.
Emma’s Outward Bound journey began a year later. During the summer after her sophomore year, Emma, too, was selected to attend a 22-day Outward Bound course with support from the Rufus M. Dalton Leadership Scholarship. She even had the same NCOBS instructor as Rhoen—Sarah Goldman. Emma, too, was challenged by whitewater canoeing, which left her feeling vulnerable and out of control. She recalls her own peak moment on course— on top of a mountain, singing with her crewmates.
Instructor Sarah Goldman has fond memories of the sisters:
“We often hear from our alumni about how Outward Bound has changed their lives. For the Hoff Twins—Rhoen and Emma—the challenges they met on their NCOBS courses serve as lasting reminders of their tenacity and confidence. “When I received my pre-course paperwork, I almost couldn’t believe that I was going to have the opportunity to get to know not only Rhoen, but ALSO Emma. There is no doubt the two are twins as they have many amazing commonalities, like certain looks on their faces as they process information. They share a kind, generous. yet quiet strength. However, after spending 22 days with each of them, I got to see their unique personalities shine through. During my course with Emma, her crew happened to camp at the same location for the solo experience as Rhoen’s crew had been previously. I remembered the solo site I placed Rhoen in, and a year later, I opted to put Emma in that same place. She didn’t know it at the time, but I did tell her later and now the twins share that experience in such a unique way. The Hoff twins are incredibly memorable and the experience of working with both of them is one I won’t forget.”
Instructor Sarah Goldman with the Hoff twins, Emma and Rhoen.When asked what lessons from Outward Bound stay with her, Rhoen says she learned to lean into challenges. She learned to work together with classmates. She learned to adapt to her weaknesses.
Emma learned to be vulnerable. She often recalls the discomfort she felt on course, and this inspiresher to push beyond her comfort zone. Emma believes she is a better person because she worked through these challenges on her Outward Bound course.
As for the future, Rhoen plans to pursue a career in mental health and serve marginalized communities. Emma plans to major in public health. Both twins plan to remain active in outdoor activities. The Hoff Twins were a mighty pair prior to their time with NCOBS. Outward Bound helped each of them discover qualities that are essential to the journey ahead.