Kelsey 3Kelsey Mortensen: I would like to sincerely thank WineWorks for the opportunity to attend Outward Bound. It has not only refreshed my inner self, but has shown me insights into my mental, physical and emotional connections.

The journey for me started when I stepped off the boat into the magical, picturesque view that was Anakiwa. Unfortunately that didn’t last long. After being assigned to Hillary Watch (602), we were in our running gear and covered almost head to toe in mud from the push-ups, sit-ups and squats performed in the outgoing tide. This was the point that I let my inhibitions go, this was the moment that I became inspired, and it is these moments that I reflect upon today with pride.

The morning PT sessions always started off a struggle, however despite the dip in the sea and a cold shower, we were all raring to go for the day’s activities. It reminded me of how much you can achieve in a single day and how I should maximise my day to incorporate as much as possible. The first activity was kayaking. Having never had to flip over (intentional or unintentional) in a kayak, I was hesitant. This was only heightened in my first attempt when I flipped but unfortunately my partner was unable to pull me back over. In that split second I felt panic, fear, self-doubt and failure. The next few days we were paddling down the rapids and waterfalls of the Pelorous and Rai rivers. Despite my initial troubles I am proud to say I achieved it, and even defeated my fears when I tipped over and hit my head on some rocks but came out even more determined and confident.

Kelsey 4Throughout OB, the instructors guide you to reflect on the experiences and the hurdles and challenges you faced while undertaking them. It was this aspect that was surprising, as I had never taken the time to understand the emotions felt when I was pushed or challenged. This enlightenment allowed me to recognize when I was panicking and therefore can use the techniques, suggested by other watch members, to overcome the hurdle. This was particularly useful when I became stuck ¾ of the way up the rock-climbing wall.

My most enjoyable time was on the sailing scheme. Being on the sea, directed by the wind is such a surreal feeling, and a reminder that NZ is such a beautiful place. I felt in my element at the bow of the cutter, riding the waves with a splash of sea-spray once in a while to keep me on my toes. As most of my crew were either asleep or feeling seasick it made me appreciate the natural landscape and wildlife in the Marlborough Sounds. The D-shackle broke on our main mast near Ships Cove so we had no choice but to row back to Anakiwa. The first part (3 ½ hours) to the first mooring stop for the night was followed by a 6-hour row the next day. We were all so focused and determined to get back before the southerly kicked in which required mental endurance and a positive attitude. Some sing-a-longs and joke telling were a particular highlight that kept our spirits high.

Solo was very enlightening for me. 3 nights and 2 ½ days alone in the bush with limited rations. I used this time to do yoga (a new hobby I enjoy) and reflect on life, small pieces at a time. I feel this encouraged me to reflect on my personal values, the perception of myself and, the different relationships in my life.

My biggest achievement, and the one I will hold on to forever, was the 3-day tramp followed by the half marathon. Our instructors decided that our watch was strong so we would do a tramp that no one has done in 3 years. These 3 days combined mental toughness, physical endurance and emotional strength to push us almost to breaking point. We tramped for 13, 13.5 and 15.5 hours each day. The hours of vertical climbs and decent was the most challenging aspect of OB for me, not only because of the physical pain and exhaustion, but having to maintain that mental and emotional strength over the three days. Unfortunately as we arrived at our pick up point 5 hours late (10.30pm), the van was not there.

Kelsey 2Thankfully we finally got back to Anakiwa to have some dinner and a hot shower (1.30am), but it still was not over. We were up at 5.30am to prepare for the half marathon. As I didn’t have much time to dwell on the imminent run, I had the attitude of Nike, ‘Just Do It’. Finishing that half marathon made me realise, as cliché as it is, that I can do anything I can put my mind to. This is the attitude I have gained from OB and that I am implementing into daily life.

Outward Bound has been a life changing experience. I feel like I have a renewed sense of direction, achievement and connection to my personal values. I have no doubt that this will help me accomplish goals in my career, personal life and other aspects I wish to endeavor. I would like to sincerely thank WineWorks for providing me with this wonderful opportunity and I wish all the best to future recipients of the scholarship. This was an experience of a lifetime, never to be forgotten!

– Kelsey Mortensen