On Tuesday, April 25, Outward Bound Monaco (OBM) teamed up 25 members, between the ages of 14 to 18, with some of Monaco’s top sport celebrities for an amusing evening of bowling at Ni Box, sponsored by Samy Sass of Sass Café and Rommy Gianni of the Monte Carlo Polo Team.
Founded in 2004, the non-profit Outward Bound Monaco promotes outdoor education “survival courses” for youths. The programs are one or three weeks in length, and take place in July and August. As Monaco is the only one of Outward Bound’s 35 countries that does not have its own training centre, kids from OBM head to Aberdovey and Ullswater in the UK to participate in Skills for Life, Serious Adventure and Discover Adventure courses.
General Secretary Judy Churchill told Monaco Life, that Outward Bound is “about teaching kids how to give back to the community”.
Certainly they could learn this from some of Monaco’s own champion athletes on hand for the event, with proven track records that hard work, determination and self-esteem pay off.
Amongst the celebrities who gave their time to be with the Young people were two-time world snow polo champion and captain of the Monte Carlo Polo Team Rommy Gianni, Tiffany Cromwell (professional cyclist), Paula Radcliffe (world record holder for the women’s marathon), Patrice Servelle (Monegasque 4 time Olympic bobsledder) and Mick Doohan (five-time motorsport world champion) and his son Jack, 14, a talented young racing driver, to act as captains for the association’s first bowling activity.
Mick Doohan, who has returned to Monaco after living in his native Australia for the past 18 years, told Monaco Life, “Opportunities like this even communicate team work and problem solving to kids. And winning is great, but you learn more from losing and it keeps you humble.”
Marina, 14, and Ronda, 15, completed a one-week survival program last summer in Ullswater, with a group of three other girls and five boys.
As part of their training, the friends had to hike 56 km over three days, carrying on their backs tents, sleeping bags, gas burners and other supplies. There’s also the“ Leave No Trace” philosophy, so everything (think toilets) has to be carried out of the forest and disposed elsewhere.
“I really appreciated the little things when I returned home,” Ronda told Monaco Life.
Marina, confirming that both the girls would like to return to do another training, added that the program “makes you realise that you’re stronger than you think.”
OBM has a local membership program since it launched 13 years ago, when HRH Prince Andrew, Duke of York, was visiting Monaco for an Outward Bound event on HMS Leander and asked Prince Albert to become Patron of the association in Monaco.
Since then, OMB has helped send over 300 kids to the UK, in many cases supplementing the costs of the programs – which range from £650 to £2000 (€770 to €2370), plus transportation.
The biggest challenges for the association are twofold: first, getting the word out locally that Outward Bound Monaco exists. As Ms Churchill pointed out, there’s not a huge selection of activities for children in Monaco, and “money solves nothing as far as kids are concerned. They need to be motivated, stimulated, and learn values they can take anywhere in life.”
OBM has very low overheads and has just launched crowdfunding on their website, but their second hurdle is finding individuals and businesses needed for sponsorship. Noaro Frères, the Stelios Foundation, the James Mitchell Foundation, Rommy Gianni and John Michael Midziwill are currently local sponsors.
“We want to help anchor children locally, so they develop values and create a community that they can give back to,” Ms Churchill added.