This summer Outward Bound Atlanta announced the second annual recipient of the John Webster 4 Pillars Scholarship. This scholarship recognizes one student in Atlanta Public Schools who embodies the Four Pillars of Outward Bound; physical fitness, craftsmanship, self-reliance, and compassion. Michael Johnson, a Senior from Carver Early College received the scholarship this year, giving him the opportunity to participate in a 21-day expedition that included hiking, rock climbing, and canoeing.
Through this experience, Michael said that he gained a sense of what it means to do something to the best of one’s ability. During the 21 days in the mountains of North Carolina, Michael faced many challenges; such as preparing food in the woods over camp stoves, setting up tarps to sleep under well enough that no one would get wet when it rained, belaying members of his group and helping them climb safely, and learning to paddle a canoe which Michael felt was the most difficult part of his experience. Michael shared with Outward Bound Atlanta instructors that when he did something as well as he could, the task became easier and the results were better than when he did not try his best. After returning from the trip, Michael shared this discovery, and since returning to school the concept of craftsmanship has been a topic that is constantly revealed in conversations and interactions with him.
The experience challenged him and gave Michael an opportunity to shine, sharing his strengths with the other members of his crew. As an athlete on campus Michael has demonstrated a commitment to physical fitness that he says paid off in the wilderness. The challenges of running 7 miles up and around a mountain and rock climbing were easy compared to the challenge he experienced while canoeing. Although paddling the canoe proved to be the most difficult of his physical and mental challenges, by the end of his week on the water, Michael had given the task his all and actually began to enjoy it!
After 21 days without a cell phone or computer, without fast food or soda, the first thing Michael asked for when OBA instructors picked him up from the Asheville Airport was fast food. He turned on his cell phone and began texting the entire way home. But, when asked if he would ever do it again or recommend it to others, Michael enthusiastically replied, “yes!” and asked if he could do another course.
Anyone interested in applying for this incredible scholarship opportunity should contact the Community Instructors with Outward Bound Atlanta at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.