Synopsis: It’s 1965 and 24 teenage girls are about to have an experience that will change their lives forever. Who were these girls and what did they do? Women Outward Bound is a documentary about those girls, what happened to them, and how 30 days in the wilderness taught them they could do more than they ever thought possible.
Lead Artist: Maxine Davis
IT WAS TOUGH.
IT WAS BEAUTIFUL.
IT CHANGED 24 GIRLS IN 1965 FOREVER.
Outward Bound School first opened in Great Britain in 1941. Its mission: to give young seamen the ability to survive harsh conditions at sea by teaching confidence, tenacity, perseverance, and to build experience in harsh natural conditions.
Gene Caesar wrote in Seventeen Magazine, “I had expected an assortment of muscle-molls. Instead, I saw two dozen feminine young women, several of whom, as a north woods guide would say, wouldn’t have weighed a hundred pounds wringing wet – which they were destined frequently to be.” Along with most others, he thought “… the country’s teenage girls are soft, pampered creatures.” Were we? Or, as girls, had we just never had our chance to find out? Most likely most of us watched Miss America walk her runway with tiara and tears. But, we wouldn’t see the the likes of Venus Williams or Hillary Clinton for years. We each had our reasons for signing on, but none of us knew how those weeks would change our lives. We boarded a bus that took us to the edge of a wilderness backcountry covering some 2.2 million acres of lakes, rivers, granite outcroppings, bogs, rivers, and waterfalls.
We soon learned that we’d get dirty and wet – but could also clean up and dry out. We paddled white water. We climbed rocks and ropes and plunged into very cold water. We gained the physical strength and mental tenacity to travel safely in “brigades” through the wilderness for the next 16 days. We came to Outward Bound with such different backgrounds, abilities, and weaknesses. And when we left, many of us took something with us that we didn’t realize we’d found – what I call “grit.”
Close to fifty years have passed, and American girls need grit more than ever. What is “grit”? Perseverance, cooperation, risk-taking, dreaming big. How do we develop these qualities in our girls? Whether a girl wears shorts, a hijab, or a sari, when they take leadership roles as women, our entire world will be better for it. We have a rare opportunity to follow a group of girls who early on learned to value grit, and take it into their lives as women.
Trees and water and rocks don’t care what you look like. They don’t judge. So many girls and women feel judged for everything from their looks to their grades. When a girl fords a brook, climbs a rock-face, or sits quietly listening to wind — she can be herself. How girls and women change when they spend time in nature, is difficult to explain. Video shows it. How do we tell you, the person who will contribute to Women Outward Bound what this documentary may do for this important conversation? Let’s find out together.