Scaling mountains, sailing cutters and swimming before sunrise aren’t usually part of a day on the farm.
But it’s exactly what Southland dairy farmer Victoria Rundle experienced when she went to Outward Bound recently with the help of Emma Blom, a Lincoln University agricultural student who raised money for a scholarship so someone else could have her “life-changing” experiences.
“I fundraised through a gumboot marathon to raise awareness of mental health issues in our rural communities. My goal was to enable another farmer to get to Outward Bound to build resilience while unlocking their potential. Victoria’s drive to grow and passion for the industry made her the perfect recipient,” Blom said.
Now working on Riversdale Dairies, in her former job Rundle farmed with Blom’s brother Nick and found out about the scholarship during a conversation when Blom came to the farm to help.
Rundle wasn’t confident she’d be successful but applied anyway. She knew nothing about Outward Bound, so it was an entirely new experience for the 30-year-old.
“I really enjoyed the course. You can try and prepare as much as you can, and you can either think you’re not ready or feel like you’re absolutely ready, and you’ll get there and be fully surprised of what you’re capable of. It’s something you don’t discover until you are there living it, doing it.”
Rundle said dairy farming can be isolating at times, and learning to take a moment and reflect on your situation or state of mind and how you can improve it was tested at Outward Bound.
“No phones, no watch meant many times you only had yourself and your thoughts to keep you company. Checking in with yourself and how you’re going, what’s happening in your life, how you’re feeling and what you’re grateful for is a great skill we developed on the course. It really made you acknowledge what emotions and thoughts were running through your head, be aware of the people around you, and make sure they are happy too.
“Many of the skills we learned at OB can be applied to everyday life. Teamwork is an essential part of farming, working well together so we get tasks done. My watchmates on the course were a really diverse bunch, but I think that’s what made us bond so well together. We all had each other’s backs. We were in it together, and it was really affirming working together.”
Rundle is back on the farm and wants to pass the baton to another New Zealander to experience Outward Bound. Meanwhile, she shares tales of her adventure with as many of her workmates and dairy cows as possible.