Young Scots use outdoors to map out life’s journey

Picture: The Outward Bound Trust
Picture: The Outward Bound Trust
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Confidence starts at early age, says Martin Davidson

THE proverb “great oaks from little acorns grow” is as applicable now in today’s society as it was when first created.

The Outward Bound Trust fully understands the importance of allowing young Scots to achieve their true potential during their fundamentally important and formative years. When young people are given the opportunity to embrace qualities of self-belief and resilience at an early age, The Trust has found these skills remain throughout an individual’s life.

In the summer of 1964 at the age of 16, Tom McInally from Glasgow attended an Outward Bound course at The Trust’s Moray Sea School. Now aged 65, father of two and owner of McInally Associates, a company offering services on all facets of independent planning and development for urban renewal projects, he explains the long-reaching impact that his four-week course had on him.

“I must confess I was a little shy at that age. Before my Outward Bound experience I’d have been found at the back of a boat keeping my head down. After my course, I wanted to be a captain,” he said.

Tom learnt that he was more than capable of being part of the team process and found confidence that he had an active part to play. Tom explains further: “I benefitted from physical and mental development through outdoor education and learning when I was young and I’d like to see more opportunities for Scotland’s current and next generation to learn and develop through physical activity and the great outdoors.”

Christine Scullion, 47, attended a three-week classic course when she was 16 which counted as part of her expedition module for the Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award.

Christine was put in a very mixed group with international students and young people from all backgrounds including a young man from a borstal. Christine is now Head of Development at The Robertson Trust which in 2012/13 provided over £15 million to support a wide range of charitable activities throughout Scotland.

Christine discovered that she could lead people with confidence and it embedded a passion for outdoor education and learning. In fact, after studying geography at university, she trained as a teacher in outdoor education and then worked at The Outward Bound Trust’s Loch Eil Centre.

She explains: “I was taught the huge positive impact that outdoor education can have on people. It uncovers potential and has a strong and positive impact on individuals,.”

Reverend Stuart MacQuarrie, who was appointed lead chaplain for the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, attended an Outward Bound course at the age of 17 while employed at the Glasgow Corporation as a clerical trainee.

“People from all walks of life deserve a chance,” Stuart says. “My Outward Bound experience taught me to go out and take my place in the world with confidence. It taught me resilience and increased my self-belief that I could take charge of my life and seize opportunity.”

Stuart explains the course allowed him to access fabulous, empowered unique people and gave him the opportunity to grow. This has stayed with him throughout his life and has been the foundation of his chaplaincy for the past 30 years.

Glasgow-based Tommy McDade gathered the impetus to do his best and aim higher when he attended a five-day corporate development course at Loch Eil with his then employers the Employment Service in 1992 at the age of 24. Now the assistant director of employment training and skills for Barnardo’s in Scotland and Northern Ireland, Tommy explains the long-reaching impact of the skills he learnt. “I found an increase in my confidence and self-belief,” Tommy says.

The Trust researches and evaluates the impact that their courses have on individuals through a number of research projects. In its latest Social Impact Report 2014, the Trust found 93 per cent of young people who had attended a course noted an increase in their own perseverance and ability to tackle difficult challenges, three months after their course. We know from the life stories mentioned here that for many the powerful outcomes and learnings stay with individuals for a lifetime. The Trust is conducting a piece of research into the longer-term impact of Outward Bound courses. If you’ve experienced an Outward Bound course and understand the power and intensity of learning through adventure in the wild please go to to register your details.

• Martin Davidson is Scottish Director for The Outward Bound Trust


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