Plus est en vous I chant to myself. Plus est en vous, Jacob! I know my legs are hurting and my lungs feel as if I have ingested razors. But I continue to run. “You could always stop, you’ve been running for so long”, the little voice in my head says to me. But no, Plus est en vous, I repeat over and over and wow! That half marathon wasn’t so bad. By now you are probably wondering what I am rambling on about and what in tarnation does ‘Plus est en vous’ mean? Well we will get to the latter in a bit, but first let me introduce you to my experiences with Outward Bound. I am Jacob Gates, I was honoured to receive the Sander Scholarship last November at senior prizegiving. Outward Bound is a 21 day program that facilitates growth, self-discovery and adventure. By no shape or form do they promise or state this is a life changing experience, but rather it is up to the individual to change through their time at Outward Bound. Luckily this year Anakiwa is one of the only Outward Bound schools to be functioning in the world without major Covid-19 interruptions. Before any of the intrepid expeditions were to begin we had to be sorted into our “Watches”. A Watch is a Nautical term for the crew which is on duty. I was sorted into the mighty and prestigious Batten Watch, which is named after Jean Batten who was a world famous New Zealand Aviator. Making the first solo flight from England to Aotearoa, among many other daring solo flights across the globe. Here I met the 13 other watchmates whom I would be adventuring with.
Our adventures included Kayaking, Tramping, Sailing, Rock Climbing, a solo survival experience and a half marathon to finish off. These activities were not only employed to challenge us physically and get us out of our comfort. But to give us a chance to learn who we really are. While undergoing stress, challenge and exertion we were given the chance to truly shine and I have learnt that one can never truly know oneself if you remain comfortable. The school encourages that vulnerability shows true strength and mana, taking the risk to be uncomfortable and putting yourself out there in front of others invites others to do the same. Kaitiakitanga is another value which is cherished and preached at Outward Bound. Being the Kaitiaki of nature, people or values is an extremely rewarding thing to do. We were given the chance to show this with our Service around the school i.e. cleaning, maintaining the recycling etc and maintaining local DOC tracks.
Our most gruelling and inspired moment on our course was the sailing adventure. For me this was already a scary thing as I had no sailing experience and there was too much jargon. To learn that we would be experiencing stormy weather, high winds and powerful gusts didn’t exactly make me feel any better about the whole thing. On the second day we just successfully circumnavigated Blumine Island, through rain and mighty swells right out of the Cook Strait mind you. Through many unsuccessful attempts to tack into the Kumutoto Bay we decided to get the gain sticks (Oars) out and try our luck with rowing. We found out that gusts were not easy to row through despite our best efforts. Quickly, we found ourselves headed straight for the rocks. With the worst timing possible, our instructor's support boat was having engine problems and couldn’t tow us out. It dawned upon us that we either crash into the rocks risking injury and worse or we row like we stole the boat. In a brilliant display of leadership and teamwork we got ourselves out of that sticky situation.
Personally, I think that experience encapsulates the essence of Outward Bound. What is that you ask? Well the famous founder of Outward Bound, Kurt Hahn, sums it up nicely; “Plus est en vous”, French for “there is more in you”. Despite facing great adversity Batten Watch was able to overcome whatever challenge was thrown at them and no doubt we will continue to live our lives as if nothing is too great and we can achieve all. I know beyond any doubt that the seed which was planted within us during this course will grow and be nurtured by the amazing members of Batten Watch. I for one know that I have a newfound hunger and zeal for life, I feel more determined to follow my passions and I know that I am determined to succeed at University this year. Many thanks to all of Batten Watch for making the course as memorable as it was hilarious, to Otaki College and Shelley Macrae for selecting me and supporting me in this venture and to mother nature blessing us with her beauty each day.