By Stephanie Johns
Rising Morgan County High School freshman Kylie Anderson, 13, baked a variety of pound cakes to send herself to camp this summer.
“It’s pretty expensive to go,” she said.
Between cake sales and donations, Anderson said she raised about $1,000 to attend the Outward Bound camp in Pisgah National Forest in North Carolina.
Cakes were homemade – no mixes were used – and some took over an hour to bake. She charged $15 to $30 per cake and offered such treats as gluten free, organic, blueberry lemon, and even maple bacon.
“It was one of the best,” she said of the maple bacon cake. “He loved it.”
Anderson’s grandmother, Karen Klatt of South Carolina, told her about Outward Bound.
Klatt said she used to backpack a lot on the Apalachian Trail (AT) when she lived in Virginia.
“I’m big into backpacking,” she said. So much so that she and her husband, Tony Klatt, take their grandkids camping once or twice each summer.
It was during one such trip that she told Anderson about Outward Bound and the AT, which Klatt said she dreamed of hiking but could never afford to take off the six months required.
“We wanted to send our kids to Outward Bound but it was too expensive,” she said. Instead they were able to send their granddaughter.
Klatt bought Anderson a book on the AT so she could learn more.
“She’s since read eight or 10,” Klatt said, adding that one of the authors is now mentoring Kylie. “She hiked the AT in less time; she broke records.”
Once Anderson decided she wanted to go, Klatt said she would pay for one week.
“Kylie said she wanted to go for two,” Klatt said. “I told her Nana can’t afford that – here’s my budget. She said that’s OK, I’ll raise the money.”
Klatt said Anderson is “very goal oriented.”
“She’s quite a tremendous young lady,” she said. “I’m really excited about the direction she’s going in.”
After learning about the camp Anderson said she did some additional research to learn more.
According to the Outward Bound website, “Outward Bound is the premier provider of experience-based outdoor leadership programs for youth and adults. Outward Bound courses change lives and give you the tools to see further, climb higher and know your way.”
Anderson then told her mom, Jessica Anderson, who offered Kylie her full support.
“My mom helped me purchase my gear and offered lots of moral support getting ready for the trip,” she said.
One thing Kylie learned: the camp is geared for those age 14 to 16. Kylie won’t turn 14 until August so she had to fill out extra paperwork in order to get accepted.
Klatt added that Outward Bound has a 90-day window on the age limit so Kylie just made it.
While at camp Kylie backpacked and whitewater canoed.
“I’ve camped a lot and backpacked,” she said, adding that she has her own equipment. “Whitewater canoeing was new.”
She and the other campers – there were 11 to begin with but one camper was expelled after a week and a half – also did a lot of navigating.
To get where they needed to go they used a map and compass. Part of the challenge, though: the map might be from the 1960s and therefore be less than accurate.
Two instructors accompanied the campers. Kylie said that so long as the campers worked together the instructors would redirect them. If the campers didn’t take everyone else into consideration though, and only one tried to lead without regard to the others, the instructors might let them continue on in the wrong direction.
Campers also experienced a ‘solo’ as part of their experience.
They each were given a tarp and enough food for 24 hours. They were then left to their own devices – each camper had his or her own ‘solo’ site – within earshot of help.
Following the 14-day camp, Kylie said she’s noticed a difference in herself.
“I think it really did change me in some ways,” she said. “Everything I needed for two weeks was in my backpack. It was kind of humbling.”
Angelina Bellebuono, who used to work with Jessica and is now a friend of the family, according to Kylie, shared that she also noticed a difference in Kylie once she returned from camp.
“She was a different young lady than the one I interacted with a few months ago,” she wrote. “The transformation was remarkable.”
Bellebuono also commented on Kylie’s confidence: “She was radiant …”
Kylie has good reason to be radiant as she’s one step closer to her goal of backpacking the AT following high school graduation.
“I’ve wanted to do that since before Outward Bound,” she said, adding that Outward Bound was preparation for that. “It’s one of those goals it’s in sight now.”