Jeremy Young is District Councillor of the Central and Western District. He is the Vice Chairperson of the Food, Environment, Hygiene & Works Committee and a Member of the Culture, Leisure & Social Affairs Committee under the Central and Western District Council, he is also a member of the Hong Kong Youth Development Commission.
Jeremy Young can be described as a die-hard fan of Outward Bound Hong Kong. He has been actively involved with Outward Bound since his first experience with in 1982, but story between his family and the school began almost a decade earlier.
Jeremy’s dad, Howard Young, was on the first Outward Bound programme (Course #1) in Hong Kong and strived to keep up with the name of an “Outward Bounder”. Howard described the programme as a strenuous one consisting of tough outdoor physical activities designed to help young people discover and develop their potential. His Outward Bound story did not end with his participation in Course #1. He went on to sit in the LegCo and co-founded the Outward Bound Alumni Association. He also served on the Executive Committee of Outward Bound Hong Kong and maintained his enthusiasm for our work until he was succeeded by Jeremy, who has now been charged with maintaining links between the school and the Alumni Association.
My dad participated in the first Outward Bound Hong Kong programme in 1972, and my mom followed shortly after. They believed this challenging yet bonding adventure was ideal for me, so at the age of 7, I was enrolled.
Jeremy vividly remembers the first time he started his Outward Bound journey. There was no air-conditioning, hot water for showers, not even a can of soft drink. Instead, a range of new experiences was brought onto him and he spent a week outdoors - hiking, canoeing, orienteering, exploring, stargazing, and dreaming. During the week, he intently focused on his surroundings - foraged edible plants, velvety moss, myriad bird songs, shifting clouds and more. Being immersed in the elements of nature forced him out of his comfort zone. Feeling the rain soaking through his clothes, reading the wind whilst paddling canoes, understanding the change in temperatures between day and night. “Everything was new and unknown to me, it was tough, but exciting at the same time.”
Outward Bound is part of my journey and it leaves a lasting imprint on our family.
“I admit I was homesick at times and wanted to cry at night, but when I heard my teammates sobbing in bed, I put up a brave face and comforted them instead” says Jeremy. The outdoor learning experience created plenty of conversations and interactions with others and he developed strong relationships with course mates. To this day he sees natural challenges as one of the most powerful tool for teaching. “I will send all my daughters to Outward Bound Hong Kong so that they too can learn and grow in a safe and natural environment, in fact, our eldest daughter, aged 9, has just completed a 4Kidz programme in July” Jeremy added.
The jetty jump is Outward Bound’s signature challenge. “All you do is jump off the jetty - looks simple and easy right? but it is also often the biggest challenge for many ,” he explained. After high-school, Jeremy was a volunteer at an Outward Bound 4Kidz programme. “There is one particular boy that I will never forget. He was very timid and afraid of water as he had experienced a near-drowning incident when he was a toddler. The jetty jump became his single biggest fear factor and he even begged with tears to be excused (of course he was not excused). The instructor, together with his teammates were patient yet persistent in urging him to break through, and after many failed attempts he finally made it (with a gentle “nudge” from a volunteer standing next to him)! In that instant I knew he broke through, because the boy with a brimming smile on his face coming out of the water was virtually unrecognisable to the fearful crying one who took the leap moments ago. From that moment on he just took off and had a blast.” It gives me a lot of pride and joy having played a part in such a positive transformation for that young man.
That is the beauty of the unknown, throwing yourself out there and coming out of the journey stronger. After the jetty jump transformation, this boy went on to help others achieve their breakthroughs. On one particular challenging team rock-climbing session, a participant who was normally confident confessed she had a fear of heights and was absolutely convinced she would fall. The moment came when the jetty jump boy walked up to his frightful teammate and said “Remember how I was afraid of water and turned out just fine? If I can rid my fear of water, so can you in ridding your fear of heights. Needless to say, she stepped up and finished the challenge.” Jeremy believes Outward Bound is both a personal and a peer experience, that a single achievement, no matter how small, can send ripples through a group to further motivate others, “That is the beauty of the unknown, throwing yourself out there and coming out of the journey stronger.”