My name is Jalin. I live in Baltimore City, and I go to Mergenthaler Vocational-Technical High School (Mervo), where I study carpentry. My carpentry teacher told me about Outward Bound. He gave me some information about the program, and I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do it. Then I thought about it, and I like trying new things. I did my first program during the pandemic, so it was virtual.
Our instructors, Mary and Paris, did an outstanding job. I saw how active and engaged they were and that made me do the same. For example, one time we had to work in teams to find stuff in our house from a list they gave us. It was kind of hard because we weren’t together. I learned about the importance of accountability from that activity. I also learned how to be more comfortable speaking in front of people.
Before I participated in Outward Bound, I would get nervous when I had to speak in public. Outward Bound provided different exercises that taught me how to stay calm when speaking to people. We also did other exercises that helped us remember people’s names. Small things like that helped sharpen our minds, and it's the small things that count the most.
I participated in my first in-person expedition in 2021. It kicked my butt, but I loved every bit of that experience, because I learned a lot about myself. We spent a week camping in Maryland. Our instructors taught us how to set up camp, and we all had individual jobs every day.
Each night we would all get together and talk about the good and bad of our day. I did not enjoy the first night at all. It was cold and uncomfortable, but by the second night, I started to get used to it because I felt like we’d found our rhythm.
On Wednesday, I learned the importance of never giving up and staying focused on a goal. That was a challenging day for me because we had to do a lot of walking with our heavy bags, and I wanted to give up many times. My feet started hurting, but I kept going and we finally made it to the rock-climbing area. I had an amazing time there. It was so beautiful. I climbed to the top and had so much fun.
While we were walking, I heard someone crying behind me. I turned around to see one of the campers crying, so I asked her what was wrong. She told me she was tired and missed her family. I encouraged her and told her we could get through this. She said her bag was too heavy for her, so I doubled up and carried her bag and mine.
We kept walking and the weight of bags was getting to me. I wanted to give up so bad and it was so hard, but I kept telling myself, ‘You gotta stay focused, you gotta push through.’ Then I realized I couldn’t handle it on my own, so I asked for help, and the team shared the load with me. I learned another valuable lesson - never be scared to ask for help.
The lessons I learned during my two expeditions with Outward Bound help me in my life all the time. I recently traveled to Ohio with my dad to do a Mixed Martial Arts test. I had to fight against a fighter and two instructors, and I wasn't nervous. I was doing good but started to get tired. I had four more tests, and I told myself the same thing I told myself during my Outward Bound expedition last year - keep going, keep sparring.
I made it to my last sparring test, which was an ambush game. There were three fighters against me, but I got away, and I got away safely. They said I passed with flying colors, and I was happy, and it was worth it. All that hard work I put in, training every day, and telling people that I couldn’t hang out because I had to train, was worth it.
Outward Bound helped me pass that test because it taught me to never give up on your dreams and to keep going no matter how hard it is. If you are a high school student and you are thinking about joining an Outward Bound expedition, do it.
Outward Bound is not easy, they really push you to the limit, but they do it so you can grow. I know this because that is what they did for me, and I am so glad I said yes to this experience.
Interviewing by Dareise Jones