Disconnecting to reconnect - Outward Bound

Disconnecting to reconnect

Going device-free on your Outward Bound course

My Course, Inspirational

An important part of an Outward Bound experience is being fully present and connecting with the people around you and the nature that surrounds you. But with our phones always by our side, it can be hard to disconnect and truly be in the moment. That's why at Outward Bound, we ask our students to leave their digital devices behind for the duration of the course. It might sound scary at first, but we truly believe that disconnecting from technology is one of the most powerful experiences you can have while with us in Anakiwa.



Our Device-Free Philosophy

By leaving their devices behind, students can fully immerse themselves in the present moment without the constant distractions of buzzing phones, notifications, and news stories. This leads to a deeper connection with nature and stronger relationships with the other people on the course. We understand that for some students, handing over their phone can feel daunting. In the real world, phones are our safety net. It’s how we connect to the people who are important to us. It’s how we can feel safe in times of struggle or uncertainty and taking that away can make you feel unsafe. 

Giving up your phone can feel scary and it’s okay to feel nervous about this aspect of the course. Part of our job at Outward Bound is to make sure that while it may initially feel like you don’t have that safety net, you are still safe at Outward Bound. Yes, our courses are designed to be physically challenging but we also make sure that students are mentally challenged as well. Stepping outside of your mental comfort zone while still remaining in a safe space is a core pillar of an Outward Bound course.


Our rangatahi need it now more than ever

For teens, this experience is especially important. Recent studies have shown that our rangatahi are struggling. Here are a few statistics to give you an idea:

  • The number of 15-24 year-olds experiencing extreme psychological distress has jumped from 5% to 19% in just 10 years.
  • We have the highest rate of bullying in the OECD.
  • Only 7% of our young people are getting enough physical activity in their day.
  • And our teen suicide rates are still among the worst in the world.

 Statistics are drawn from Trends in Wellbeing Aotearoa NZ 2000-2020


While it would be unfair to blame all of those statistics solely on digital devices, it is clear that there is a correlation between technology and the mental well-being of our youth. By disconnecting from technology while on course, we hope that students will learn to value the experience of taking a step back from technology and recognize when they might need to step back from it in the future.


The Impact on Parents

We understand that it can also be a source of anxiety for parents to be away from their teen for an extended period of time, especially for younger students who might be experiencing being away from home for the first time. Rest assured, our team takes really good care of your teen and prioritizes keeping the students safe while also empowering them to think for themselves, push through struggles, and connect with new people without the immediate crutch of a guardian or parent.

Don’t forget that just because your teen doesn’t have a phone during their course doesn’t mean you can’t get in touch with them. Sending them a handwritten letter or a care package (best to post it in the first week so it arrives in time) can be a great way to stay connected to your teen while they are on course. Students can also write letters back but don’t be discouraged if you don’t hear from them often. Time goes quickly here in Anakiwa and if you don’t hear from your student, just trust they are making the most of the experience by living in the moment and forming strong connections with those around them. 

Capturing the experience 

In this digital age, it's common to want to capture and document everything that happens especially while having new and exciting experiences, but we really encourage students to not worry too much about documenting every minute and instead, staying present and living in the moment, not worrying about how your photos will turn out.

With that said, we do encourage students to bring a digital camera or Go Pro and your instructor will lay out the expectations for using those devices while on course. We’re happy for students to document their experiences as long as it’s not a distraction and not taking them out of the experience of being present in the moment.

As always our Enrolments team are always happy to answer any questions you might have. 

0800  688 927