Gilly Voss doesn't stand still for long. The 59 year-old is a Targeted Health Specialist at YMCA Auckland City by day, but in her spare time indulges in anything from kayaking to walking and swimming. For someone so active you would think Outward Bound would be a walk in the park. Think again. For Gilly, who completed the eight-day Aspire course last September, Outward Bound gave her a new lease on life. "It changed my whole mind-set and how I view challenges. I'm so much better for that experience," she says.
Gilly and eight other course participants of all ages and backgrounds were up before six o'clock each day taking on challenges that pushed them outside their comfort zone. But, they were a team, and they did the challenges together and with each other's support. "Each day we had to fully immerse ourselves in the cold salt water of the Marlborough Sounds. It was September, so it was pretty chilly, and I hate cold water. On the first day I gathered the courage to be the first to jump off the wharf. We couldn't get out till everyone had jumped in, so to keep my mind off the cold I started singing at the top of my lungs, "ten green bottles hanging on the wall," Gilly laughs.
With no phones and no connection to social media it was eight days of kayaking, tree climbing, learning to sail, problem solving and developing relationships with eight people who were once strangers, but are now friends. It was eight days of really living. "We still keep in touch over Facebook. I've met up with one of my Outward Bound team mates in Wellington and a couple in Auckland. I'll never forget them," says Gilly.
Since Outward Bound, Gilly is a new person – mentally and emotionally. "Challenges don't phase me. I say, yes, to pretty much everything," she says. She's currently doing the Orewa beach swim series. "I swim 500 metres in the ocean every Thursday. In the past, wind, choppy seas and cold water would have put me off, but now, I just do it."