The many rewards of wilderness besides beauty and solitude

Women in the BWCAW on a 1965 Outward Bound trip.

Photo by Maxine Smith

Forty-seven years ago, the first group of women ever to participate in an Outward Bound program in the Boundary Waters learned just what they capable of doing. A recent article about their planned reunion in Ely this week is not just an entertaining story of discovering the wilderness, but finding the sort of confidence that a wilderness canoe trip is so good at instilling:

Davis picked up several more lifelong skills: orienteering, cooking over an open fire (“I can bake a cake that way”) and enough canoeing skills to land subsequent summer-camp jobs. Plus something less tangible. “That I could just about approach any problem and figure it out,” she said, “not being afraid of trying and not being afraid of failing.”

Thames drew similar inspiration from Outward Bound. “I became a stronger person, not physically but mentally,” she said. “It helped me believe that I could do almost anything. I’m a single adoptive mom, and I’ve just come through two brain surgeries, and I’ve moved far and fast from those.”

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