Voyageur Outward Bound School blog

Billy’s Values to Live By

Categories: Our Blog

I recently saw a story about Doris Buffet’s Letters Foundation on the Newshour. I thought: Wow, those folks at the Foundation have an awesome job– read people’s life stories all day long and then work to make a difference in their lives. But really, the Foundation’s work has a lot in common with our work here at VOBS. We get to make a direct difference in lives every day. We seem to share some mission alignment with the Foundation too. Letters Foundation:  “We seek to strengthen our communities one individual at a time.” Outward Bound: “…our vision is a more resilient and compassionate world, with more resilient and compassionate citizens.” Strengthening the citizen for the benefit of society. We do the work, and sometimes, like the Buffets, we get a good story too.

Billy Maines recently shared his BWCA Dog Sledding Expedition experience with us via social media. With Billy’s permission, we re-publish his story here:

I spent the last eight days dog sledding and cross-country skiing in the Boundary Waters of Minnesota. I want to say a huge, “Thank you,” to Outward Bound.

I’ve graduated from two of their courses in the past year and a half and they have been the most life-changing experiences that I’ve ever had.


Going airborne on a 500lb dogsled was one of the happiest moments of my life!

I especially wanted to say, Thank you, for all the little lessons that I’ve learned:

  • You can go anywhere in a dogsled.
  • You should always sled down the hills.
  • You can do anything in your choppers.
  • You should always listen to Dave Matthews.
  • We can either make ourselves miserable, or we can make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same either way.
  • If your ski bindings break, so will someone else’s. If one of your ski poles breaks, two others will break. And all of this will happen in the space of 30 minutes– it’s just the Law of Nature.
  • Dog sledding is not a passenger sport– more time is spent lifting, running or pushing than riding.
  • You take care of your dogs before you eat your crackers.
  • Everyone is needed– a six man expedition means that six people need to pull. When one person doesn’t, then it is the same as nobody pulling. 
  • For the group to succeed, you are needed.
  • Every problem back in the real world is unimportant on course– if we don’t gather enough wood, then we won’t get dinner. If that tarp isn’t set right, we might freeze.
  • Laughter is contagious.

And, most importantly:

Everyone should live by the values of compassion, integrity, excellence, inclusion and diversity.

Thank you, Billy, for sharing your not-so-“little” lessons with us.

To discover your own life lessons, or tell us your story, connect with Voyageur Outward Bound School.

Author: Marlais Brand

Marlais has been a teacher and land-based learning advocate for over twenty years. She connects people to the power of nature and serves as Groups Outreach Manager for Voyageur Outward Bound School. Marlais loves to travel and write everywhere, but considers Lake Superior her True North.

Mtn Maddy
Mtn Maddy

I love it.  Been there, done this and you are right on. Job well done Billy!