These are the words, as written, of Chuck Lafean, age 16, on Course C-242 of Colorado Outward Bound School.
Group is supposed to be up for eight o'clock. We 4 (Bill, Tony, Steve and me) get up early and wash our hair for the first time on the course, feels great. Do some more serious rock climbing. I try to climb 3 (route not grade), fall and lose my confidence. Try 4 and don't make it. Go up on top and belay a little. The Barb (course director and one time top woman climber in the States) suggests I try 1. I do and eventually make it. (This is where the rubber meets the road! When I fell on climbing 3, I had not listened and was 10 or 15 feet off the route and pendulumed across the face pretty good. I was done. Even 15 feet off the ground I was shaking and frozen with my heart pounding and sweating palms. So, to conquer route 1, and I was pushed hard to do this, huge. Confidence came rushing back.) Belay again. Go down to try 4 again. Make it this time. Barb now climbs 2 (hardest climb) and gets a knee jammed in the off width in the process of making it. Rates it a 5.8 or 5.9. Back to resupply. Have to use a gurney to carry food (yes, it;s that heavy). Split up food and learn fixed line techniques, both vertical and horizontal. Have torts for dinner again. Rain. Sleep!
My dad had allowed me to quit things that got uncomfortable all my life. I am not saying that as a criticism; I expect it was, in large part, to compensate for the discomfort in my life, dealing with my mother's illness. Regardless, it had been my MO. I had quit ski racing, Boy Scouts (twice), baseball, Y camp; just to name a few. In retrospect there were also many things I never tried due to a lack of confidence. I missed out on a lot of things I wish I hadn't. I probably would have quit Outward Bound if I wasn't 2,000 miles from home and in the wilderness.
Being pushed up that rock face was the beginning of a change in me. It wasn't a dramatic all at once change, but there was a beginning of an "I can" mentality that was completely new to me.
I don't believe I did anymore climbing during the course; there were one or two climbing finals; I did natural history. However, I had gained enough confidence that when I got home, and was asked by kids in the neighborhood about what I did on Outward Bound, that I climbed up the side of a house to the roof to show them.