It’s clear (or should be) that young kids aren’t meant to sit in classrooms and libraries all day, that they learn best by doing. Certainly I’ve seen this with my own children. Yet we’re stuck with a one-size-fits-all system everywhere that just isn’t serving them. To this day I remember doing my first abseil with you and thinking as I edged toward that cliff edge that, despite all the ropes and buckles linking me to safety, that what I was about to do would definitely kill me, then making my way down and, at the bottom, feeling on top of the world. I also know that that I would not be where I am today had I not had that experience. So many alumni have told me the same thing. Something like [the ELS] offers real hope....
I was on the edge of dropping out of school when Will Sutherland took me and three others on a ten-day sailing expedition from Sanremo to Antibes via Corsica. We all took turns piloting the boat. All of us gained a tremendous amount of self confidence on that trip, and I returned to school with a new attitude. Will’s methods work!
I am a big believer in experiential education—the power of physically demanding expeditions to change lives. There are a number of ‘outdoor schools’ that offer that kind of wonderful experience. But I don’t think anybody should discount the additional impact of an overseas adventure. It takes kids out of another comfort zone and exposes them to numerous new experiences. I had the opportunity to study abroad as a teenager, and it completely changed the trajectory of my life.
When I was a teenager, I was a passive-aggressive, self-centered kid. Will Sutherland took me under his wing and helped me see the value in walking in another student’s shoes. He was born to mentor. That’s why I’m so happy to support his yachting project—it’s his unique gift to a new generation.