Change a World: An Interview with the Richard Family

(L to R) Madeleine, Isabelle, mom Virginia, and little brother Phineas

THE RICHARD FAMILY is one of thousands that have experienced the life-changing magic of Outward Bound. Madeleine, a senior at the Baltimore School for the Arts, participated in both our middle school Get Out and Lead (GOAL) and high school Youth Leadership Corps (YLC) courses. Isabelle is a sophomore at Baltimore Polytechnic Institute and completed YLC this summer. Both girls received scholarships for their courses from generous donors. We sat down with them recently to find out what Outward Bound had offered them.


MADELEINE: My course definitely changed my mentality. Just working through how many days I was outside with no showers and no electricity... It’s made me feel stronger but also more fortunate for the things I do have. I had never realized how fortunate I am to have a shower, let alone cable.

ISABELLE: I knew it was going to be hard for me because I’m not particularly athletic. What I didn’t expect was having such a good connection with the people I was with. That was really amazing. At times that’s what made me able to keep going. No matter how hard it was physically I knew I had an emotional connection there and people who would support me.



MADELEINE: YLC was a connection that I’ve never experienced. You start day one as complete strangers and by the end, you think you’ve known them for 8 million years. It’s because when you get put in a situation that’s a little harder you learn to work together... We’re always on our cell phones and not always communicating face-to-face. Having those real conversations at night over the fire have been much more reflective on myself and on the people in my group.

ISABELLE: Like she said, we didn’t have our phones—and I read a lot but we didn’t even have books. Sometimes you had to speak to each other, and that drove everyone to become closer as a group.

“You can never fully know what to expect. Everybody comes back with a different lesson learned. I think that makes it really cool.”


MADELEINE: One thing I wrote in my journal on course was not to become a boss but a leader. Bosses tell people what to do and are not always cautious of the person’s well-being. A leader is more open to hearing different people’s thoughts, to be more attentive to what they need that might help them across the forest or in their job. That’s the difference that I figured out at Outward Bound, between a leader and a boss, even if both are people of power. I found my own definition of leadership.



ISABELLE: The hardest part for me was just convincing myself to keep going. Because my group knew that I was struggling a little, they said “you can tell us to stop whenever you need to.” I wanted to, a lot of times I really wanted to tell the group to stop, but I knew that you just gotta keep going. And sometimes that was really hard to push through. When you reach the hardest part, it only gets better from there.


VIRGINIA: The minute Isabelle got back she said “I want to do another one, I can’t wait.” When they talk about some of the things they did, though, it’s so much harder than I had realized. It’s crazy that they did that and they’re still smiling about it. It’s magic, but it’s also real. I have a whole new respect for my kids and what they can endure. This summer Madeleine went to China by herself for a month. Part of Outward Bound is helping her to become an independent person who could do customs by herself in China. They can think, they can figure things out, and being part of Outward Bound helped in that journey.

ISABELLE: I think Outward Bound holds something different for every person. You can never fully know what to expect. Everybody comes back with a different lesson learned. I think that makes it really cool.



VIRGINIA: I knew that they were safe and I also knew that they had the right equipment. We don’t have all of that, and with Outward Bound anything you don’t have is provided, which is huge. I make sure they have boots—boots are personal—but all that equipment would cost us $1,000 at the store. I’m a single mom with three adopted children, and these expeditions are not an experience I would have been able to provide for them without the scholarships. We’re not on free or reduced lunch—I’m a teacher but I do have three kids—but the full cost of a course is not in our budget. To make this available… this is such a unique experience.

$1320 allows a student like Isabelle (pictured here on this year’s YLC course) to discover themselves and chart a new life course through a five-day wilderness expedition.


EVERY STUDENT LEARNS something different about themselves on an Outward Bound course—but all of them need support to get there. You can make this experience possible for a student like Madeleine and Isabelle with a gift toward the gear, travel, expert instruction, and safety equipment that set the stage for life-changing discovery.

Your gift of $20 allows us to purchase a headlamp for deep fireside conversations.

Your gift of $150 covers the cost of a backpack to carry everything a student needs for a week.

Your gift of $265 funds a student on a day of exploration and challenge on the Appalachian Trail, Potomac River, or Chesapeake Bay.

Your gift of $1,320 allows a student to discover themselves and chart a new life course through a five-day wilderness expedition.

However you choose to support the Baltimore Chesapeake Bay Outward Bound School, your investment has real returns. With your help, our students become the tough, kind, resilient leaders that we need for the future.

Thank you for joining us!

Ginger Mihalik
Executive Director


Give Back: Make a Donation to Baltimore Chesapeake Bay Outward Bound School.