From January 21-23, the six of us YES students, four ACCESS students, and a couple of YES Alumni joined each other for a three day excursion in Abyadh Desert organized by Outward Bound: an international, non-profit, independent, outdoor education organization with approximately 40 schools around the world and 200,000 participants per year. Outward Bound programs aim to foster the personal growth and social skills of participants by using challenging expeditions in the outdoors. Being stripped of electronic devices, hiking for extended periods of time in the hot, Omani sun, and fundamentally having no amenities made for an interesting camping challenge. The first day was primarily dedicated to becoming acquainted with our fellow companions who came from neighboring parts of Oman separate from Muscat as well as becoming acquainted with the potential challenges we were going to face in the upcoming two days. After switching out our backpacks that we brought from home with the heavy-duty backpacks equipped with sleeping bags and other camping essentials, the fourteen of us started our trek and eventually set up camp where we had to cook our own food and prepare our own fire. The second and third days in the desert, however, demanded a lot more of our physical capacity because of the lengthy hikes up the sand dunes and rocky terrain; furthermore, after our long day of walking, we were rewarded with the promise of a refreshing swim in the wadi (as can be seen in the picture above) which turned out to be really nice and much needed. Swimming in the wadi was undoubtedly my favorite part of the three-day trip in addition to the late night jinn stories that were exchanged around the fire right before we went to bed! Lastly, the third day was occupied with retracing our steps back to our starting point and the fourteen of us had to bid our farewells soon after. I am very happy I had the privilege of meeting the ACCESS students as well as YES Alumni, and, all-in-all to be in good company while completing several of the team-building exercises and trekking up Oman’s landscapes. Having the chance to be away from the city life and all that comes along with it made not only for an interesting trip but also a refreshing one because there is nothing like being free of distractions in the middle of nowhere that helps you get to know someone  

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