Outward Bound Student Interview: Memekas Boyland
“It started raining the moment we showed up, and it literally rained every day for the whole course!” While it may sound less than pleasant, Memekas Boyland (pronounced muh-MAY-kahs) has nothing but fond memories as she remembers her Outward Bound course. In 2013, when Memekas was 14, she attended a 14-day backpacking and rock climbing course with the North Carolina Outward Bound School. Having grown up in North Carolina, she knew the annual rainfall of the region was just short of being classified as a temperate rainforest, but she didn’t expect an experience like this. “We put on our rain gear before we got out of the van at the trailhead, and pretty much wore it for the rest of the trip. We looked like crew from the Deadliest Catch!”
If there was one word to describe her group, it was a crew. “Even though we were backpacking and climbing, our course had a sailing theme. Every day we learned more about ‘running the ship’ as crew, not passengers, so by the end we were able to ‘set sail’ and run the days on our own.” The sailing theme springs from Outward Bound’s roots as a training program for sailors in the Merchant Marines, and despite the difference in environments, the idea of having to work as part of a crew to get things done is something all Outward Bound courses have in common.
Why Outward Bound?
Memekas, whose name means “Butterfly” in the Lenape (Native American) language, was ready to grow, but she didn’t know what to do to make that happen. In the summer before her freshman year of high school, her mother and her mother’s partner inspired her to look into Outward Bound. She tells us, “My mother was working in the office for North Carolina Outward Bound, and every day she came home with stories about another person’s life that was changed through an Outward Bound course.” Her mother’s partner had been an Instructor with Outward Bound in the past, and he often told stories from his time in the field. “I wanted an experience like that,” Memekas says of hearing about others’ experiences.
When she registered for her Outward Bound course, she was excited and nervous at the same time. “I was nervous about how much weight I would be carrying. And later, I found out I was the youngest person in my group, going into my freshman year of high school. Most of the others were going into their junior year! It made me nervous that I wouldn’t be able to keep up.” But Memekas fought back her fears, because as she said, “I was excited to become stronger and learn new skills.”
So why did Memekas choose Outward Bound over another outdoor program? “I saw a lot of people come out of Outward Bound with positive experiences and personal growth. I talked to people who had done Outward Bound and other programs, and they said at Outward Bound you learn the practical skills like tying knots, but also the soft skills like how to communicate in a group and how to set the day up for success.” This is what Memekas wanted from a course. “I wanted to have tools for my future self, to help me in my everyday life.”
Memekas found the skills and…