Joella Asapokahai, admittedly, is not the outdoorsy type. So why did she apply for the Perry S. Levy Outward Bound Scholarship?
“I was looking for something new to do,” she said. “It was at a point in the year where I was stagnant. I wasn’t exploring and using my potential more effectively outside of academics. I was looking for something that would genuinely expand my horizons, help me grow, and get a new perspective on life.”
Embracing KO’s core value of “take risks,” Asapokahai headed to the Appalachian Mountains through Pennsylvania and West Virginia in June for 12 days with a team of seven students and two instructors.
The typical day starts prosaically enough, including waking up under the tarp in the middle of the woods, cleaning up camp, eating breakfast, discussing the navigation plan, and establishing roles of who was the cook or leaders for the day. And then the hard work kicked in with hardcore backpacking, navigation techniques, rock climbing, balaying, and other climbing techniques.
Understandably, Asapokhai was nervous about the physical aspect of the trip. The biggest challenge arrived on day 2, which consisted of a two-mile vertical climb with a 50 lb back. She summoned her mental strength to rise to the occasion.
“I had to use a lot of positive affirmations,” she said. “I had to tell myself I could do this; I’ve done harder things. Having to have my body match those thoughts and go up and climb that mountain was the challenge.”
Although doubts crept in as she was climbing, she was tenacious. She said there were reminders along the way as to why she was engaging in the experience. At the end of the climb, she said, you realize why you wanted to do it in the first place.
KO helped influence Asaapokhai by preparing her to collaborate with others, and she said since our classes are very collaborative, they infuse the entire community. Her KO friends supported Asapokahai’s decision to attend Outward Bound even though it was an atypical choice for her. “KO’s community is supportive and collaborative. When I applied for Outward Bound, my friends didn’t question me and say, ‘That’s not like you.’ They said, ‘Go for it! You know you can do it!’”
This collaborative spirit extended to her Outward Bound expedition. Asapokhai felt that collaborating with people that she didn’t know helped her grow as an individual. Having never hiked or backpacked, she understood she would rely on individuals she had never met for guidance. “I came with an open mind, thinking these people would have to help me since I’ve never done this before. Working with people is one of my strengths, and I knew I would learn from them.”
A few other adjustments Asapokhai encountered were being away from her family for an extended period and ditching technology. Without having her phone nearby, she was conscious of how reliant we are on technology throughout the day. Instead of waking up with a phone alarm, she was awakened by taking in nature, which she shared she could get used to.
Following the trip, Asapokhai felt proud of herself and will use that feeling as a source of motivation. She said she craves more adventure to test herself and move out of her comfort zone.
Asapokahai’s trip has had a domino effect, influencing fellow Wyverns to take a chance. “One girl approached me and said, ‘You made my biggest nightmare something that I might actually try.’ I felt that I was impacting people already,” she said.