Be Tough Yet Gentle

Anyone who has ever visited Homeplace, the northern Minnesota base for the Voyageur Outward Bound School (VOBS) may remember signs nailed on the trees every quarter mile from Minnesota and Canada Outward Bound founder Bob Pieh:

"Be tough, yet gentle. Humble, but bold. Swayed always, by beauty and truth."

Most wilderness Outward Bound schools hold a personal challenge event as part of the final physical challenge of the expedition. When I was an OB participant in Utah we had a ten mile run up a beautiful side canyon on the Green River. At VOBS the challenge is a type of triathlon--a six mile paddle, one mile portage, and then a five mile run on logging roads back to Homeplace. Some of my most vivid memories working there were setting off in my kayak and paddling to the first check point on Birch Lake at dawn--sitting on a small island and sipping my morning coffee as the first canoes came through the mist, and cheering on the determined paddlers as they pushed themselves and their...

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