My heart's in the Highlands, wherever I go . . .
From Glasgow north to the Moray Firth is 120 miles "as the craw flees." By rail it's a fair piece more. I had been warned that the train stopped in every field to see if the hay was ripe. In June 1950 the journey consumed seven hours.
The train swung around northwestward into the valley of the Tay, following the river upstream. The country grew wilder, the station names more wonderfully Scottish. Dunkeld. Pitlochry. Through the Pass of Killiecrankie, to where the headwaters of the Garry and the Spey nearly touched, the one stream flowing southward, the other north.
Some thirty hours earlier, I had taken off from New York's Idlewild Airport. Fourteen hours later---3 A.M. in Princeton, New Jersey---the prop-driven Constellation had put down at Prestwick. The courteous, burred questioning at customs, and a one-and-one-half-hour bus ride to Glasgow. The telephone call to Gordonstoun, with Mr. Hahn's puzzling instruction not to buy a ticket through to Forres, the stop closest to my destination. Instead I was to get off a full hour sooner, at Aviemore.
In league now with the Spey as it flowed to the North Sea, the train called more on brakes than power. The wild moors merging with the mountains, the ancient rugged Cairngorms.
Thirty hours out of Idlewild with little sleep, I dozed off and on. Though I no longer directly remember the reverie of that journey, I can recall its sense. Uncertain of what lay ahead, I reflected on whence I came. The day's stream of. consciousness comes back, thirty years later, as a kind of internal slide show---image succeeding image on an interior screen.
We can skip lightly over the early scenes. A youngster growing toward adolescence in an American suburb amid the certainties of the 1920's. The snug family suddenly buffeted by the Great Depression, improvising its defenses, wondering where the certainties had gone. In my high school junior year I won a scholarship to a school named Exeter. I was an enthusiastic, curious kid, fooling around with radio in a time when kits did not yet exist, when I could not get the printed information I needed, when I could not get questions answered. At my new school I was told I would find people who knew an awful lot, and it was difficult to wait to have them answer my questions.
But at Exeter nobody had time for those questions. Too busy teaching me what they thought I ought to know, they paid scant attention to my own innate curiosity. My preparatory-school record was not distinguished.
As a college student, I was still out of synch with the educational establishment. At Princeton I flunked out, twice. Technically, I did not flunk out that second time, at the end of my junior year, because I did not give them the chance. It was six months after Pearl Harbor, and when I was supposed to be sitting in the big examination halls, scribbling in a blue-covered book, I was on Staten Island, standing naked in line for hours, enlisting in the United States Army. At Fort Dix I heard someone say you must have an IQ of 120 to qualify for officer candidate school. IQ! Maybe that had been my trouble all along. A panic-stricken youngster in a phone booth, calling a girl he had dated at Princeton who worked in the dean's office: "Get my folder out and see what my IQ is and call me right back."
The 696th Armored Field Artillery Battalion of Patton's Third Army, in which I served as forward observer, landed on Utah Beach on D-plus-26. From there it was a long trek. The breakthrough at St. Lô, Coutances, and Avranches. The Battle of the Bulge, the relief of Bastogne. Holland. Across the Rhine, across the Elbe. VE day found us forty-five miles from Berlin, swapping stories with the Russians. In February 1946 I was honorably discharged.
The same classrooms, the same lecture halls, the same courses---and a whole new world. In Princeton's McCosh 10 the day's lecture ended, the huge class rose and flooded out the exits. I was elbowing my way down the center aisle against the stream to get at that silly fool on the platform gathering up his notes. I pounded on the floor at his feet: "What in the name of the Lord were you trying to tell us? If you can't do better than that, I've got to get out of this course. I'm twenty-six years old, I can't be wasting my time here!" One or two other veterans joined me. Together we nailed the poor devil to the wall, and that ten o'clock lecture was not over until midafternoon.
We were a subgeneration that had come back full of questions, hungry for meaningful answers. I was taking courses and on paths of inquiry I had never before dared. At Exeter a failure in American history had cost me my diploma, but now I found I could do history as readily as my "good" courses like math and physics. In my economics major I dug into the history of economic thought, the lives of the economists themselves. I was enjoying courses in philosophy and art and music composition. I was suddenly aware of how ignorant I was, alive with curiosity, doing academic work at a level I would not have thought possible a few years before. I did not know it yet, but I was learning the basic educational fact of life: the answers are meaningless until the questions are asked.
To eke out my GI scholarship income, I took on a job at the Hun School, a small boarding school for boys located in the town of Princeton. At first I was a sort of preserver of law and order and tutor. Mike Morgan, on the university staff, had said I could have the job on one condition: "Promise me you'll never go into education." I told him, "Couldn't be further from my mind." The Hun students were mostly combat veterans, as anxious to get their high school diplomas as I was to get mine from the university. We were a tight group. We spoke the same language, had the same reference, had been through it together. Every night they sprawled on the floor of my room, struggling with math or physics or chemistry. These were things I could help them with. Sometimes they had no money to pay the school a bill, and I said, "Hell, you can work it off," and they paid by doing some painting or plastering or glazing that the school needed.
I had been having such fun with these guys, and working so hard at my own courses, that I had not done much thinking about a career after graduation. Bob McAllen, who had taken over as headmaster, said, "Why don't you stay on here and teach?" I said, "Great---I'd love it." I was to teach algebra and physics, do some coaching, and help with administration. In June 1947 I graduated from Princeton cum laude in my major, and I married Phebe Stevens.
In that time the Hun School was a great place for a young educator to learn about education, and about operating a school. Within three years the school had four headmasters, and I was helping to break in each in turn. I was doing everything from teaching to coaching to balancing the books, hiring teachers, firing kids, dealing with trustees, dealing with accreditation authorities. We had needed a history teacher, and over at Princeton I found a graduate student named Tom Hartmann. Tom and I became partners. We swapped every job in the school. You be dean, I'll be director of studies. You be treasurer, and I'll be in charge of grounds and buildings. You be director of admissions, and I'll be director of athletics. You be varsity baseball coach, and I'll be development officer. We bought the supplies and the food. We emptied our savings accounts to pay bills to keep the merchants off our backs. And all the time we were counseling with parents who had problems with their kids, and with kids who had problems with their parents.
The school plant was a former private estate. There was not enough money for upkeep of the grounds and buildings and equipment. From the precedent of letting the veterans work off a bill came the idea of giving the kids varsity letters for doing work-cutting the lawns, painting, floor waxing, plumbing, and so on. You could not tell a football player's letter from the one a truck-engine specialist was wearing. The football players looked down their noses a little, but how envious they were of the kid driving the three-gang power mower!
One day in the spring of 1950 my father-in-law came to see me. Jack Stevens was a businessman with a lively interest in hopeful things that were happening in the world, and quite often he got involved in fund raising for one or another cause.
He told me: "Josh, some friends of mine have asked me to help raise money for the work being done by a German headmaster of a school in Scotland. One of these friends is Peggy Douglas, whose husband, Lewis Douglas, is our ambassador to Great Britain, and another is her sister Ellen McCloy, whose husband, John McCloy, is American Allied High Commissioner of Germany. They think that this man can have a helpful influence on postwar Germany. His name is Kurt Hahn. Just what he is up to I can't tell you. He seems to be involved in several different projects---his Gordonstoun School in Scotland, some other schools on the continent, and some kind of an outdoor and rescue training school. My friends say the things he's doing are extremely worthwhile. I asked them if they've ever had an American schoolteacher look at his work, and they asked me if I knew one, and I said I might just. How would you like to go over and take a look at this, and write a report on it?"
"I'd like it," I said.
The train rolled on, following the Spey down through the mountains. Studying my map, I wondered again why Mr. Hahn had instructed me to get off at Aviemore, fifty miles short of the northern coast where the Gordonstoun School was located. The "ticket inspector" leaned into the compartment. "Aviemore!" I gathered my baggage. In another minute the train puffed to a stop, and I stepped down to the platform. I was thirty years old. I had no notion that I was keeping a rendezvous with the rest of my life.
Let us build up physical fitness for the sake of the soul.
John Kemper had written that he wanted me to bring to Andover aspects of the Hahn philosophy and method that were applicable to the Andover scene, so long as they changed none of the existing structure. I was just young enough to pay scant heed to the inherent contradiction. At Phillips Academy-best known simply as Andover---I found myself part of an institution where the faculty and administrators were secure and comfortable with the school's 175-year-old traditions, its high academic standards, its splendid record in getting graduates into leading colleges, its prestige in the educational community, its eminence on the athletic field, its Andover way of doing things. They were not in search of innovation. Most of them had never heard of Kurt Hahn, or Gordonstoun, or Salem, or Outward Bound. Had they, it would not have occurred to them that Hahn or his institutions had anything to offer them or the school.
At the same time, I was intent on maintaining a low profile, I realized that were it to get bruited about that I had an innovating mission, I would have two strikes on me at the outset. Those good low-profile intentions were abruptly shattered within a month by the arrival, on short notice, of Kurt Hahn and Prince George to visit the school. Suddenly I was consorting with these distinguished guests, one of them (now Hahn's fame raced out over the campus grapevine) an educator of international renown, the other not only a headmaster but royalty. Put in charge of their visit, I did not even know the names of my fellow faculty members, let alone the students.
Hahn stayed at our home. He had no more than arrived when he managed to lock himself into the bathroom. We had to call on the combined competence of the town police and fire departments to free him. Touring the school, he and the prince were a colorful pair. John Kemper was much taken with them both. In those first meetings he was somewhat disconcerted by Hahn's readiness to give him fatherly (age sixty-six to forty) instruction in the arts of headmastership, but he would grow to relish that. The two were to become great friends.
I could not wait to hear Hahn's reactions to Andover. That he was instantly impressed by the physical plant was hardly surprising. He found the Cage---a big, glass-covered, dirt-floored building that housed a full athletic program indoors---a thing of wonder. He thought the library and music and art programs superb, and he quickly perceived the high academic quality in the Andover ambiance. But when, walking home after the third day of his visit, I asked him what he thought of the school, he said, "Phillips Academy is like a ship on a first-class voyage through education, but without a member of the crew in sight."
He meant that the students, always in his thinking the most visible part of the crew, were only passengers on this cruise. He missed the sight and sense of what was the essence of his own school's environment---the total involvement of the students in its operation. That every student did not have some responsibility whereby he was contributing to the functioning and well-being of the community---or some responsibility that he was being deprived of as a penalty---was for Hahn a denial of part of the education the school owed him. He was appalled to learn that the scholarship students had to work several hours each week while the full-paying students did not. (This is no longer true at Andover.) That made a shambles of his principle that a boy should not be penalized for a factor---especially his family's income---over which he had no control. At the same time there was that nice Hahnian switch: The "underprivileged sons of the wealthy" were being deprived of a value-forming experience the scholarship students were getting.
He was impressed by the high level of performance achieved by Andover athletes. The school records in track and field, for example, were consistently superior to those at Gordonstoun. But he embarrassed us by asking for the average for the entire student body. We did not know our averages, never having measured them---but the facts would have been even more embarrassing. I was aware that whereas the average high jump for a Gordonstoun sixth former (senior) approached five feet, it would be near four for his Andover peer.
Hahn's departure left me with a depressed sense of how difficult it was going to be to weave any part of the Gordonstoun scheme into the Andover fabric. Kemper was urging me to come up with a proposal, but he made it clear I could expect no help in the form of administrative fiat. Whatever I might propose or undertake, it would be up to me to persuade the school community of its worth.
I decided that the one thing I might be able to accomplish at that juncture was the very thing that, it seemed to me, most needed doing: to set up some version of Gordonstoun's physical-education method. Andover was in the anomalous posture of having one of the finest athletic programs of any secondary school in the country, and virtually no physical education. Every student was required to put in ninety minutes four afternoons a week in some part of an extraordinary gamut of team sports. There were five. levels of interschool and intramural leagues, approximating five levels of skill, that enabled every boy to take part in a competitive sport. Altogether some five thousand youngsters from other schools were engaging Andover in one or another contest each year. These contests and the practice for them made for a fine program with many virtues, but this was athletics, not physical education.
How well I now understood Hahn's, "It is my mission in life to dethrone games." Competitive sports provide exercise, recreation, physical development, the social experience of team effort, the personal and social values of acquired skills, competitive experience. Inevitably, however, the stress on competition denies to the athletically inferior youngster the chance to know authentic competitive pressure. When the contest is close, coaches are reluctant to use substitutes. Even a Class E league has its benchsitters. Embarrassed by their poor performance, turned off by a reenforced sense of inferiority, the inept withdraw from athletic endeavor as soon as they can; yet they may well be the ones who most need to be impelled into the physical and competitive experience.
Not only was the physically subpar boy not overcoming his deficiencies and "the misery of unimportance" that they bred, neither, for the most part, was the competent athlete correcting his areas of weakness. And even if the desire to win was not permitted to dilute sportsmanship, there were other hazards for the physically gifted youngster. He could loaf---could become, in Hahn's phrase, "the prima donna athlete who is no friend of wind and weather, who takes a rest cure between rare maximum efforts." He could satisfy himself with a mediocre effort. He could gloss over his shortcomings by basking in the stardom of his specialty. He could get a distorted sense of his relative importance in the student mix.
John Kemper was aware of all this, especially of the potential of physical education for increasing the confidence of adolescent boys. Two years before he had brought in a young teacher named Reagh Wetmore, a fine athlete with first-rate physical-education competency, and charged him to set up a program. But Reagh too had his problems. The faculty, defending their territorial imperatives, refused to surrender any morning time. A strict rule forbade students to set foot in the gymnasium during study hours. The only concession the faculty had made to Reagh was to let him work with those students who were so low on the physical motor scale as to be clearly in need of special attention. But now the gymnasium was being rebuilt, and he had virtually no program at all. I told Reagh about The Break at Gordonstoun. He was not impressed. He was fresh from earning his master's degree at Springfield College in Massachusetts, the fount of conventional wisdom on physical education, and the Hahnian principles were not the ones he had been taught. He let me go to work with his collection of twenty or so physical misfits but took a dim view of what I was doing.
I dubbed them "the lame and the halt." What a great bunch of kids they were! Fat kids, frail kids whose muscles were virtually unused, kids who had never done anything physical, some of them terrified, one youngster who had been crippled by infantile paralysis. Most of them eventually gave it a good try, and these surprised themselves by what they could do. This confirmed my Gordonstoun experience. But the results obtained with a handful of boys who were physically very subpar were not going to sell the program to the faculty. They could perceive that this was useful therapy, but what did it have to do with the welfare of the student body at large? At the same time, I was aware that while my lads had certainly acquired an improved opinion of themselves, they still suffered the stigma of having been singled out as the poorest physical specimens in the school.
At this point Jack Hawes, an English teacher, came to my rescue. Jack had listened with interest to my Gordonstoun and Outward Bound stories, and now he was impressed by the improved physical prowess and heightened self-concept of the "lame and halt" kids. He was housemaster of Williams, one of the two dormitories that housed the "juniors," as Andover ninth-graders are called. Jack said, "Why don't you take my dormitory next year? Put them through the program, measure their progress, keep track of their classroom records, and compare them with the boys in Rockwell." Rockwell was the other ninth-grade dormitory. This looked like a way to gain credibility for The Break. We managed to persuade the faculty to approve the experiment of excusing the fifty boys in Williams from a one-hour study period two mornings a week. It was a reluctant approval. No one was really for the scheme except Kemper, Hawes, and myself. With Wetmore's counsel---he maintained his dim view---we settled on six events: the broad jump, high jump, shot put, discus, seventy-five-yard dash, and the half-mile run. We set "Standard" and "Silver" levels of achievement for each event according to age. As always in The Break, the competition was only with oneself. I posted an improvement chart for each boy in the Cage, where I conducted the course, much as I had set it up at Gordonstoun.
Beautiful! Once again the combination of release from "the sedentary hours" and self-challenge worked its magic. In the classroom, it was easy to spot the ones who had just come in from The Break. They were more alive and alert. That kid sitting back there bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, you knew what had happened to him. He had made a quantifiable gain that day. One he could measure and send home, saying, It is I who is gaining. That is important to a fourteen-year-old boy. I recall three youngsters in particular, each representative of a kind of experience common to The Break.
Frank was a short, chubby thirteen-year-old who at the start had complete disdain for the program. Fearful of revealing how subpar he actually was, he refused to extend himself and made a comical act of his poor performance. He seemed to enjoy the jeers he induced. Then, in spite of himself, he began to improve. Gradually his attitude changed. One day he ran the dash two seconds better than his previous best time, faster than a lot of the others were doing. He forgot his act. The day he first put the shot twenty feet-nine feet better than his starting effort---the onlookers gave an acclaiming shout. You could see the new self-respect in his face. He went on to earn Silvers in both these events and a Standard in the discus. His late start cost him his Standards in the other three, but he had won a great discovery---that through trying, one can do what he thought he could not do.
Art was a slightly built, high-strung boy, sincere, studious. Physically he was poorly coordinated to the point of clumsiness, with little experience in sports. A sensitive lad, he took kindly neither to helpful nor deriding comments. But essentially there was nothing wrong with his physique except development. His improvement was startling. He bettered himself by nearly four and a half feet in the broad jump, thirteen inches in the high jump, more than twelve feet in the shot put, thirty feet in the discus, one and a half seconds in the seventy-five-yard dash, thirty-five seconds in the half-mile run. His time for the half-mile beat the school's junior indoor record. By the end of the winter term this boy who had gone into The Break labeled a nonathlete by himself and his peers was on the school's junior relay team.
Tim was one of two boys who failed to win a single Standard. He was a pudgy, physically immature little boy who was all but helpless in physical activity. He lacked both coordination and the strength to carry his excess load of baby fat, and his performance measurements at the start were abysmal. He showed total disinterest. After about six weeks, something happened. He began to improve. By the end of the second term he had bettered the improvement average for the class in four of the six events. His classmates were regarding him with new respect, and so was he. One day he brought his mother to my office. He wanted me to tell her what The Break was all about and to explain what he had achieved. I guess the memory of that boy and his mother as they went out together, both with new pride in their eyes, is my favorite among the many rewards The Break brought to me. This boy who had failed to achieve a single Standard was one of my great successes.
I made a report at a faculty meeting in April 1954. After briefly reviewing the philosophy of the concept and the program structure, I gave the impressive statistics of the overall improvement in physical competence. Near the end I quietly dropped a bombshell---the comparative academic records for Williams Hall, the ninth-graders who had been in the Break program, and Rockwell Hall, those who had not. The data told a persuasive story. The average IQs of the two groups were virtually identical. In both terms the Break group had a higher average grade and higher average rank. They won honors in many more courses than the control group, failed in far fewer, and showed greater improvement from one term to next.
I said only, "It is apparent that the program was not detrimental to the academic interests of the boys involved," and sat down. There was a long, silent moment. Then Harper Follansbee, Rockwell's housemaster, stood up and said, "Next year I want my boys to have that program." That did it.
I won quite a few faculty adherents that afternoon, but Reagh Wetmore was my great convert. Convinced, he grabbed the ball, and. thereafter we ran with it together. "Let's have something more than track events," Reagh. said. That made sense to me; I bought his idea for a kind of indoor obstacle course in the gym, tests that would put a premium on agility and overcoming fear. Then Reagh said, "O.K., we've got something on the ground, something in the air, we ought to have something for the third element, the water." He was Andover's swim coach. But he was not thinking of just a pool counterpart to the track events. He wanted a water activity that would be different and valuable to the average youngster. He told me of a magazine article he had read about Fred Lanoue, the Georgia Tech swimming coach, who had developed a technique he called "drownproofing." According to Lanoue, anybody could be taught to survive in the water indefinitely.
As good luck would have it, we caught up with Lanoue shortly after that at a physical-education conference in New York, where the three of us huddled for a whole afternoon.
We try to teach youngsters that a technique in the head is worth a million helping hands that may be out of reach.
Fred Lanoue was one of the most colorful, most profane, and most Christian persons I have ever known. Of French Canadian parentage, he grew up in Worcester, Massachusetts. He earned his way through Springfield College as a daredevil high diver. The Lanoue stories at Springfield were in the folk hero genre. They liked to tell you that he had earned a term's tuition by diving from a two hundred-foot tower into a damp wash cloth with Roman candles sticking out of each ear and his rear end. He walked with a kind of foot-slapping limp, the consequence of an injury incurred while experimenting on a wild new dive.
Fred was a natural athlete, but as a boy swimming had been his poorest sport. Thin and bony, he was that relatively rare creature, a natural sinker. The strain of keeping his head above water sapped his energy. He discovered that he did much better swimming underwater, coming up only to breathe. It was not fast, but it got him where he wanted to go without tiring him out. That discovery provided the germ of his drownproofing theory.
He maintained there are only four good reasons for drowning. One, you are knocked unconscious. Two, the water is too cold, and you die from loss of body heat. Three, there is froth on the water, and you cannot get your head above it to breathe. Four,you starve to death. If you drown for any other reason, he said, you should get a demerit. He had developed a method for staying afloat indefinitely, even with cramps. Eschewing what he called the "cosmetic crawl," he employed a "travel stroke" for negotiating long distances with minimum energy. It was sheer absurdity, Fred argued, that a mere fifty-yard swim was considered an adequate beginner's test. If you find yourself in the water one hundred and fifty yards off shore, he pointed out, being able to swim fifty yards is unlikely to help you much. His beginner's test was the ability to stay afloat one hour and swim one mile. He halved that for four-year-olds but not for seven-year-olds.
Listening to my story of Gordonstoun and Outward Bound, Lanoue was greatly taken by the ideas of Kurt Hahn. He caught on just like that. He said, "I'm doing that with drownproofing. It's self-control under circumstances that approach panic and demand self-respect. And it leads to a respect for other people that you can express in a profound way---by saving their lives. This is what I believe in. Nobody graduates from Georgia Tech, nobody, until he passes drownproofing. I even put the president through."
That fall Wetmore and I launched our new three-part version of The Break for the entire ninth grade. For an indoor obstacle course we had rigged a circuit that involved vertical rope ladders, horizontal ladders twenty feet in the air, a trampoline leap to a horizontal overhead rope that then had to be traversed for twenty feet, followed by a flying swing to a cargo net, and so on. Its effectiveness as a test exceeded our fondest expectations. It was a great leveler. A football player would traverse that horizontal rope trip in an agony of effort, apprehension, and acrophobia. Right behind him a skinny little monkey of a kid would scramble through the whole exercise as though it were just a lark. The 200-pound tackle on the freshman team who was a big shot because he had the bulk and strength to push smaller kids around learned something about humility. Up to then he had been getting his ego-building input on the football field, which was just a congenital accident. Now he was learning the difference between the self-respect that your genes give you and the self-respect that you have earned.
Lanoue came up to help us get the drownproofing started. Fred taught me a lot not only about water survival skills but about how to approach that kind of problem analytically. Most drownings, he pointed out, are due to some combination of panic and exhaustion. When even a reasonably good swimmer encounters a sudden crisis in the water---a fall into the water far from shore, a cramp, a strong current pulling him away from safety--his instinctive reaction is too often a fatal one. He may try to buck a current wearing heavy water-logged clothes. Or he may shuck clothes that he needs for warmth. He may use a stroke he is unable to maintain. He may exhaust himself trying to keep his head out of water---the equivalent of supporting a ten-pound brick as he swims. He may gasp for air at the instant a swell fills his mouth with water. A cramp may frighten him to greater exertion and quicker exhaustion. Or he may turn over on his back to rest---which consumes more energy than is commonly thought-and choke as a wave washes over his face.
Lanoue's drownproof technique is based on the natural buoyancy of most human bodies when the lungs are filled with air. The victim takes a full breath and allows himself to sink to his natural float position. The body is angled forward at the waist, face in the water, the back of the neck at the surface, arms and legs hanging loosely downward. The air does the work of keeping him afloat near the surface. Every six to ten seconds, he folds his arms in front of his head, raises his head far enough out of the water to inhale, supporting this act with a scissors kick, then resumes the float position. He expends so little energy that terrifying complications like cramps, heavy clothes, a disabling injury, rough water, or long immersion do not threaten his survival. An adaptation of this basic subsurface float enables him, using the "travel stroke," to swim through the water at about one mile per hour without tiring. A few who lack natural buoyance---only about one percent of white males (although a considerable percentage of black males) and the rare female are sinkers---must use the travel stroke to stay afloat.
To pass drownproofing, each student involved in The Break had to stay afloat for one hour, swim a mile wearing pants and shirt, and perform a sequence of maneuvers that simulated cramp conditions---first with hands tied behind back, then with legs tied Buddha-fashion. He also had to swim underwater for 150 feet, demonstrate using a pair of pants as a floating aid, and do a one hundred-yard chest-carry of another person. Over the years Reagh Wetmore refined and added to the tests.
In the 1959 spring vacation Wetmore and I made a flying trip to visit Hahn and his institutions. He was then living in an apartment in the castle that housed Hermannsburg, Salem's junior school. We spent a day with him, visited the Hermannsburg and Salem schools, the two new German Outward Bound schools at Weissenhaus and Baad, and went on to England for visits to Aberdovey and Gordonstoun and a final rendezvous with Hahn in London.
Hahn had retired from Gordonstoun in 1953 at the age of sixty-six, charging his co-successors, Henry Brereton and Robert Chew: "You will not permit Gordonstoun to descend to the level of a first-class traditional school!" The next year the University of Edinburgh conferred on him an honorary Doctor of Law. The university's chancellor, Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, made the presentation. "It cannot be given to many," said Gordonstoun's most distinguished old boy, "to have the opportunity and the desire to heap honors upon their former headmaster." Presumably the university conceived its accolade as capping the brilliant career of a man entering retirement. But Hahn still had promises to keep, and some he had not yet even made. He carried on, more than ever "an old man in a hurry," dividing his time largely between Hermannsburg and London, where in a suite at Brown's Hotel he maintained a kind of personal global headquarters.
We found him in great form. His work was bearing fruit literally around the world. In addition to new Outward Bound schools in England, and the two in Germany for which he was personally responsible, others had been started in Nigeria, Kenya, Malaysia, and Australia. In the preceding year his eighteen-year campaign for his County Badge plan had won the smashing success of royal sponsorship, when Prince Philip launched it as the Duke of Edinburgh's Award Scheme. In later years Philip, reflecting on how well the scheme had taken hold throughout the British Commonwealth, would remember: "It would never have started but for Hahn, certainly not. He suggested I ought to do it, and I fought against it for quite a long time. Because you know what the British are like in relation to that sort of thing. And I said, well, I'm not going to stick my neck out and do anything as stupid as that, and everybody saying, 'Ah, silly ass,' you know?" Hahn's faith proved sounder than the Duke's apprehension. Nobody said, "Ah, silly ass." By 1970 the Award Scheme was established in twenty-eight countries. In 1980 it was established as the Congressional Award and I was asked to be one of the sixteen founding trustees.
Now Hahn was deeply involved in inventing a new institution. In 1955 Air Marshal Sir Lawrence Darvall, Commandant of the NATO Defense College in Paris, had said to him: "The conservative, nationalistic military officers attending our school are achieving a remarkable degree of international understanding in a mere six-month course, Think how much more could be accomplished by a nonmilitarist school for young people with an international student body!" Fired by Darvall's concept, Hahn had joined forces with him. The two men were recruiting committees in many countries to support their proposal for an Atlantic College---a two-year, precollege school enrolling students from all over the world. In such a school, they envisioned, Briton and Indian, Israeli and Arab, Greek and Turk, students of all colors and political persuasions would study and adventure together in a self-governing international environment.
That trip completed Wetmore's conversion to the Hahnian philosophy. He peppered Hahn with questions. How did he know this, know that? Hahn's answers were mostly grounded in homely observation. On what basis did he claim children had an innate sense of order? Ask a four-year-old to fetch you a pail of sand, Hahn said, and see how he pats and smooths the top before he hands it to you. "All the treasures of childhood come alive in the four-year-old," he told us.
Kemper had been critical of our reports on students in The Break, as being too statistical, not interpretive enough of individual development. We told Hahn about this, explaining that we were chary of trespassing into areas that were more properly the province of the housemasters and teachers. "Trespass continually," Hahn replied. He counseled us to extend the range of our reports. We should make a diagnosis like a doctor; this would help the boy's housemaster and his parents.
There was an incident on that trip that neither Wetmore nor I have forgotten. Discoursing on one of his favorite themes--- your liability is your opportunity"---Hahn had remarked that people who have surmounted a serious handicap have a "glint" in their eye. At the Hamburg Airport, intending to fly to London, we found no record of our reservations. It was close to flight time; informed that there were no places for us, we were dismayed at the prospect of losing a day of our already brief time in Britain. The clerk took our situation to a colleague, who was immediately all concern. When his initial resort to the telephone was of no avail, he literally sprinted off. Several minutes later he came running back, his expression telling us that all was well, swiftly wrote out our tickets, and gave us a hurried escort to our departure gate. As we settled breathlessly into our plane seats, deeply grateful to our rescuer, Wetmore said to me, "Did you see the glint in his eye?" The man had an artificial hand.
We returned to Andover revitalized. Following Hahn's suggestion, we made our Break evaluating format more subjective. Each boy's housemaster received a rather elaborate developmental report. As Hahn had predicted, the housemasters found these reports invaluable in their day-to-day and counseling contacts, as well as a help when they talked with parents. The reports stayed in the boys' files, and in time they were useful to the upper housemasters too.
It was interesting to observe Hahn's influence on Wetmore. He continued to improve and refine The Break. He completely changed his method of teaching chemistry, cutting down the theoretical, beefing up the experiential. In his first year as swimming coach, twelve boys had come out for the team. After the visit to Hahn, Reagh recruited vigorously. The swim squad enrollment built to more than two hundred. He had seven teams---varsity, junior varsity, four "club" teams, and juniors (freshmen)---swimming competitively outside the school. Broadening the base produced more champions; the school had one national champion after another.
The Break became an Andover institution. Reagh did a lot of speaking and writing, creating considerable interest in the physical-education community. But it has never taken hold in other schools. To sell it, to win institutional status for it, requires too much educating of the educators. I still consider it the finest physical-education program I have known.
In January 1958, in cognizance of Hahn's new centering of effort on the Atlantic College undertaking, the American-British foundation for European Education changed its name to the Atlantic Foundation for the Education of the Free. At that time John Kemper and I were elected to the board, along with Sir Lawrence Darvall and Professor H. Wentworth Eldredge of Dartmouth College, an early Atlantic College enthusiast. A year later I was made secretary. Ellen McCloy and Eric Warburg, who had become respectively president and executive vice president in 1954, continued in those posts. By 1960 it was definite that the first Atlantic College would be established in Llantwit Major, Wales, and Hahn was urging us to launch a campaign for a second college in this country. We scouted for possible sites. But the timing was not right for the task of raising the needed millions of dollars. John Kemper and Jack Stevens (who had been a director since 1953), the foundation's two best money-raising talents, were both deeply involved in a six-million-dollar campaign for Phillips Academy.
I was strongly conscious of not yet having redeemed my self-promise to play a part in bringing Kurt Hahn's work to the United States. While an American Atlantic College was then the project closest to Hahn's heart, I continued to hope we could also find the means of establishing Outward Bound in this country. As the new decade began, I was unaware of how close to feasibility that hope lay. I did not know about a schoolmaster in Colorado seeking a way "to give students a sense of purpose and involvement in something larger than themselves." Nor about a Princeton classmate turning from a life-negating cloak-and-dagger career to a search for affirmation. The separate aspirations of the three of us were destined to come together in the founding of U.S. Outward Bound.
Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it;
In March 1959, F. Charles Froelicher, headmaster of Colorado Academy, a Denver independent day school, was a guest of the British consul on a Denver radio station. A second guest was Ted Hopkins, a cadet at the Air Force Academy, who had lived in England and told about having been a student at the Eskdale Outward Bound School. The young man's description of his challenging experience fascinated Froelicher, who was unable to point to anything comparable in the States. Not long afterward British educator Sir John Wolfenden, visiting in Denver, told him more about Outward Bound. His interest further whetted, Froelicher wrote to the Outward Bound Trust in London. He sought information about the course syllabus, in the thought that he might be able to use his school plant in the summer time for an adventure program on the British model. "The more I got into it," he says, "the more I realized that that wouldn't work---that Outward Bound was a much more significant educational undertaking than I had any notion of when I started exploring it. So the matter lay fallow for a while."
Gilbert Burnett came to Princeton the same year as I. He was from Kentucky, where he had grown up in an open country environment of horses and freedom. A war-accelerated graduate in the summer of 1943, Gil enlisted in the army and was tapped by the Office Of Strategic Services. He completed his O.S.S. training, including proficiency in the employment of a palm-size stiletto, in Indochina, where he became part of a joint British-American operation. For Burnett it was a "good war." When it ended and O.S.S. was dissolved, he continued in intelligence for the Army General Staff, then transferred to the newly formed Central Intelligence Agency.
His C.I.A. "targets" took him to various parts of the world. As the postwar decade went by, the dirty-tricks existence palled, then soured. Gil remembers, "There came a point when I realized that as a human being I was becoming more and more kamikaze, without any roots, without any heart, without anything---a kind of smiling ego without any insides." Some time during that period of progressive disillusionment he chatted in a Washington bistro with a British acquaintance who was a correspondent for the London Times. The conversation took a philosophical turn that led the Britisher to tell him about the work of a schoolmaster in England named Kurt Hahn. "The Times man brought up Hahn in connection with William James's concept of 'a moral equivalent of war. He talked about the idiom of compassion, something I had entirely lost touch with. There were, I gathered, elements of adventure and derring-do in Hahn's program. I was fascinated. The conversation and this man Hahn stuck in my mind. I thought of him as a romantic, but as one who was trying to do something about the appalling negativism after the war, the arms race, the Cold War, the whole filthy business I was involved in personally."
Deciding he had to make a move, wondering what he was cut out for, Burnett thought perhaps it was teaching. Through Princeton connections he found a post at the Pounahou School in Honolulu. Arriving there, he immediately noticed that the area was wonderfully suited for involving youngsters with the sea. But the school was doing nothing of that sort. Recalling the vague information he had picked up about Hahn's work, he wrote to London for information and received some pamphlets Hahn had written. "Then I did my homework. I began to read James, and look up the words 'character' and 'compassion' and this kind of thing." He came back to the States to teach at St. George's School in Newport, Rhode Island, where he set up an adventure-based program for the students. One day early in 1960 he drove up to Andover to talk with John Kemper about an opening on the Andover faculty. He arrived just as I was saying good-bye to the Guggenheims, who had been visiting us. After introductions, as they drove off, Gil asked, "Who's that?" I told him about meeting the Guggenheims at Gordonstoun and Gugg's supportive role in Hahn's work. Gil took fire. It blew his mind to discover that I had been at Gordonstoun and knew Hahn, had been exposed to Outward Bound and Atlantic College. He drilled me with questions.
Kemper perceived that here was an ally for the Hahnian cause. He gave Gil an appointment to teach biology the following year, with the understanding that Burnett would go to England that summer to learn all he could about Outward Bound. In London the Outward Bound Trust gave him VIP treatment. Eddie Dawson, England's great ex-cricketer who was then executive secretary of the Trust, opened up the files to him, and set up visits to several schools.
Guggenheim arranged for him to meet Hahn in London. Gil recalls the large, dim figure in the darkened sitting room in Brown's Hotel, the immediate sense of being in an Old World presence, the initial impact of Hahn's gentleness, of being put immediately at ease by a pleasantry about Americans. "The philosophy that he gave me at that particular time in my own life was what I was looking for. He understood about the work I had been doing and the question that I was facing, of how to shift from being a destructive representative of the postwar period. How, instead of blowing bridges, do you build a bridge in order to effect a rescue? That was an idea that had never before occurred to me."
Gil came back to Andover gung-ho to get something started. While in London he had compiled a list of Americans, including Chuck Froelicher, who had written to the Outward Bound Trust. Some time in the fall he called Froelicher and asked him if he was interested in the possibility of starting an Outward Bound school in Colorado. Froelicher said he was. Kemper gave us permission to fly to Denver to meet with him at the January 1961 end of term. Reagh Wetmore and Ed Williams, another Andover teacher, who were doing graduate study at the University of Colorado at Boulder, joined us for a lunch meeting at Froelicher's school.
Chuck Froelicher had grown up in Baltimore, where his grandfather had been president of Goucher College, his grandmother had taught Romance languages at Goucher for forty years, and his father had been headmaster of the Park School. After naval service in World War II and graduation from Johns Hopkins, Chuck became a teacher. In 1955 he took on the headmastership of the Colorado Military Academy, a Denver school for boys that had a declining enrollment of fifty-six and was in financial straits. He dropped the military component, persuaded a group of community leaders to become trustees, and set about the task of regenerating the school. When he would leave it twenty years later to become executive director of the Gates Foundation, it would be one of the West's prestigious country day schools, with more than five hundred boy and girl students.
Through the meal, with mounting enthusiasm, we kicked around the idea of a Colorado Outward Bound School. Finally Froelicher said, "Let's just decide we're going to start a school, and line out what we have to do to get it started." He still bore the scars and growing pains of Colorado Academy's rebirth, and that experience helped as we drew up a battle plan: Interest a group of influential Colorado sponsors. Find some possible sites. Bring someone over from England to advise on the site and the organizing of a school. And so on, through a long list. Money, of course. We dreamed up a rough budget and agreed in principle on the idea of half to be raised in Colorado, half by the Atlantic Foundation.
Two weeks later Froelicher came east for the foundation's annual meeting, and the undertaking was made official. By then we had a schedule. Acquire and develop the site and organize the school in the current year, offer the first two courses in the summer of 1962. The foundation voted to raise $60,000 to help get the school started. Jack Stevens made an immediate contribution of $10,000. We voted to ask Captain Freddy Fuller to journey from Aberdovey to Colorado in the following month, to advise on site and organization and to make presentations of the Outward Bound concept in support of fund raising in Colorado. We were off and running.
Froelicher stayed on for an appointment Eric Warburg had made for him and me to meet the next day with Stephen Currier, the executive director at the Taconic Foundation. Currier listened to our story and said, "Go see Harris Wofford in Washington. He's one of our directors and if he agrees, we might consider giving you some money." Kemper joined us on the trip to Washington to talk with Wofford. Congress had recently passed the Peace Corps legislation, and President Kennedy had appointed Sargent Shriver, his brother-in-law, to create it. Wofford was helping him. When he had heard us out, he said, "You simply must talk with Shriver about this, because the Peace Corps has a problem." He took us to Shriver's office, and we told our story again. Shriver's response flabbergasted us. He said, "I want you to start eight Outward Bound schools for the Peace Corps. We'll pump our volunteers through them before they go overseas." We said that was out of the question. That we were struggling with the possibility of starting one school in Colorado. We could not possibly get involved in training the Peace Corps.
Shriver grew very earnest as he explained that the Peace Corps had a serious problem. They were getting a lot of flak from people who did not think it would work. These people just did not believe the government could take young people fresh from college classrooms, still wet behind the ears, and send them out in ambassadorial roles. The Corps' problem was that it just might not get a chance to prove its case. The opposition was so strong that if the Corps should have the same rate of attrition that federal agencies traditionally experienced overseas---losing one out of two---the program would die in its first year. Shriver and his colleagues needed some assurance that if they took a youngster from an air-conditioned college classroom and sent him to Tanganyika, he would stay there long enough to find he could make a go of it. What would happen when the first bug dropped out of the thatch into his soup, or the rains came, or the mails did not come, or people would not work, or he got homesick? "I believe Outward Bound as you describe it could be the answer to our problem," Shriver said. "If you can't start eight schools for us, start one."
We realized it was going to be difficult to turn down the White House. Shriver made it clear that in the matter of the Peace Corps he spoke for the President. Also, this was an exciting challenge. It offered a dramatic way to launch the Outward Bound concept into the national consciousness. We told him we would report back with an answer.
Three weeks later, in March, Freddy Fuller arrived, and Burnett and I flew to Colorado with him. Freddy made a presentation at Colorado Academy to a group whose support Chuck Froelicher hoped to win, and we drove out to the western part of the state to look for a site in the Rockies. Our first stop was the Rocky Mountain School in Carbondale. John Holden, the school's headmaster, and Jack Snobble, his assistant, listened to Fuller's presentation and were enthusiastic. Snobble told us about a "mountain man" friend of his who he thought would be just the man to take hold of the project. "His name is Tap Tapley. He's part Indian, an extraordinary guy. There is just nothing he doesn't I know about these mountains, and how to function in them." The next day we went up into the mountains where Tapley was dynamiting avalanches and stringing fence for a mining camp, and told him about Outward Bound and why we were there. He told us of a mining claim above the mountain town of Marble that belonged to friends of his named Howard and Blu Stroud. He thought it might meet the site specifications, and we decided to look at it.
The next morning we drove down to Redstone, where I transferred into an International Harvester vehicle with Tapley and his wife Lee. Soon we were on a dirt-and-rock mountain road and climbing. Tap drove with competence and said little. We would be driving, three in front, and Lee would say to me, "He means for us to get in back," and she and I would scramble over into the back seat to put more weight on the rear wheels. We would get past that tough spot and climb back in front. Pretty soon Lee would say, "He means for us to get in back." How she got the messages I never knew because Tap had not spoken.
Howard Stroud was waiting for us at Marble, a ghost mining town with a scattering of residents. We all piled into Stroud's snowcat. The snow was deep deep now, and the climb even steeper. We were smack in the middle of the Rockies, twenty miles southwest of Aspen, at 9000 feet, on a "road" where part of the track seemed to be over nothing. It was an awesome ride.
The climb leveled out. We were at the Stroud property, Under six or seven feet of snow, it formed a level bench about one thousand by two hundred feet before the mountain started to rise again. A beautiful grove of aspen roughly delineated its boundaries. In the distance, the summit of Treasury Mountain was majestic in its white mantle. We could see that the level area offered a splendid setting for a base camp.
Later we looked at another site, which had a large old residence on it. Freddy Fuller preferred this one; it was much closer to the British model. All the British Outward Bound schools have a fine residence to which, most nights, the students return, to eat and sleep in comfortable quarters. It is Hahn's "dunk 'em and dry 'em" philosophy, and there is a lot of soundness in the theory. But here we were getting our first variation between British and U.S. Outward Bound.
When we got back to Denver, there was a message to call Shriver. I reached Wofford and told him, "We'll start an Outward Bound School in Colorado for the Peace Corps." Shriver called back. Colorado would not do. "Congress will never buy it," he said. "We're going to be sending people to tropical climates. It doesn't make sense to prepare them in the arctic altitudes of Colorado." It was the classic misunderstanding of the Outward Bound method---the failure to comprehend that we would be training through the mountains, not for them. But I could understand Shriver's reluctance to battle that one out with Congress---especially the politically unfriendly congressmen and the ones who were doubtful about the whole Peace Corps idea. He said, "How about starting an Outward Bound School in Puerto Rico? As long as Captain Fuller is here, why doesn't he come see us on the way home?"
Fuller went to Washington, and from there down to Puerto Rico to look for a site, and Burnett and I went back to Andover. I felt overwhelmed by the pace and mounting complications. I was working in the admissions office, teaching, and coaching, and now suddenly there were these two giant undertakings in Colorado and Puerto Rico for which I was responsible to the Atlantic Foundation. The trustees were excited that something was happening at long last and they gave their enthusiastic backing to both ventures. Fortunately, the school year would be over in two months.
What we have to learn to do, we learn by doing.
Early in the spring of 1961 we presented the formal Outward Bound proposal to the Peace Corps and received an official go-ahead. I began to shuttle between Andover and Washington. One day Shriver called me in and said, "I'm delighted with the reports we're getting on your progress. You're going to be the director in Puerto Rico."
I said, "I'm glad you're getting good reports, but let's get it straight that I'm not the director."
"First, I feel much more responsible for Outward Bound as a private operation than I do for Outward Bound in the Peace Corps. I can't do for both. Second, for the Peace Corps you need a very charismatic kind of guy. You need somebody who can handle the press, handle Congress, handle top brass, handle ambassadors, handle the Puerto Rican government."
"Who's that guy?" Shriver asked. I said, "I know only one---Bill Coffin, William Sloane Coffin."
"You mean Reverend Coffin, the Yale chaplain? I went to Yale, I bet I can get him." Shriver flipped his intercom. "Get me Reverend William Coffin, the chaplain at Yale University." Soon the phone rang. "Bill. This is Sarge. Sargent Shriver. No, we haven't met---I'm director of the Peace Corps. I have a friend of yours here who says you're the only guy in the world to run this doggone Outward Bound program for us. I'd like to talk with you about it. What do you mean, it's out of the question? At least you can come down and talk about it. We'll pay your way. You're coming to Washington anyway? Friday? Where're you staying? The YMCA! Nobody stays at the YMCA! We'll put you tip at the Sheraton. Meet you there for breakfast Saturday morning at seven-thirty." He finally persuaded Coffin to take the job long enough to get the Puerto Rican operation under way.
As soon as school was out I went to Washington. The Puerto Rico camp was due to open in three months, and Coffin and I had a prodigious amount of work to do designing and staffing a program. Freddy Fuller had reported that Puerto Rico had fine terrain for a school, but the site had yet to be selected. I went down to make a survey and was flown all over the island in a plastic bubble helicopter belonging to the Puerto Rico Water Resources Department. The environment, though mountainous, could hardly have been more different from the Rockies. In the helicopter I was following the map, but the pilot had to show me where we were; there were no landmarks that I could see. The pilot would point and shout, "We're going down!" and I would look down at a solid mass of rain forest. We would drop almost like a leaf and land in a clearing I had not seen at all. Before the blades stopped spinning we would be surrounded by fifty kids. Puerto Rico is one of the most densely populated areas in the world.
Later I returned with Coffin. The site search had just about narrowed down to an abandoned lumber camp in the rain forest twenty miles from Arecibo, a town on the north-central coast, and we were making a final check. The area had a small stream, some usable small buildings, good trees for a ropes course. Driving around, we found a beautiful reservoir. Coffin took off his clothes and plunged in. I was about to follow when someone told us that the water had microscopic worms that infected the liver. That was a blow; we had been told the water in the area was free of parasites. The reservoir spill ran in a lovely river to the sea that we had planned to use for white-water kayaking. In the end the reservoir's only usefulness was for rappelling on the steep face of the dam.
Coffin and I were invited to the governor's palace. Governor Muñoz quickly grasped the idea of Outward Bound. He was sympathetic and gave us wonderful cooperation. He hoped the Peace Corps would not just use the camp for its volunteers, but also would make it available to the young people of his country. He saw the same problems with his youth that he saw with young people elsewhere in the world.
I was distressed by the urbanization-much of it the "Americanization"---of Puerto Rico. But as soon as you were off the main arteries and into the indigenous culture, everything changed. The traffic changed, the pace changed, the people changed. They were lovely, laughing, hospitable, delightful. The country was lovely; the people could manage cleanliness in their small barrios. Above all, the family ties were warm and strong. You saw poverty everywhere, but only of the pocket, not of the soul. Malnutrition was not a problem. People raised their own food, even on the handkerchief-sized plot each family lived on with its goat and chickens. You enjoyed the lighthearted ambiance, and it broke your heart to realize what a blight our urban ghettos, so far from the lovely island wildness, had worked on that blitheness of spirit.
In Washington we immersed in the charisma of the Kennedy administration. It was an extraordinary experience for me to go from a New England classroom to a sector of the national power center. We had a great gang headed by William Haddad, a creative, dynamic, hard-bitten entrepreneur sort to whom Coffin and I reported, who became a kind of inspector general of the Peace Corps. We worked furiously, often till midnight. I worked several weeks and got no paycheck. A friend in personnel investigated. "There's some difficulty about your security clearance." Ridiculous, I told him. A couple of days later he came to see me. "What's this Atlantic Foundation for the Education of the Free you're involved in?" So this was security! I dropped the names of a few of my colleagues in the foundation---Ellen McCloy, Christian Herter, Allen Dulles, Eric Warburg.
Working and living with Bill Coffin was an experience in itself. At that time William Sloane Coffin had not yet become a controversial figure at the national level. But he had been controversial enough even at Phillips Academy when he came, fresh out of Yale Divinity School, to be acting chaplain for a year. His impact on the Andover community was the same as it was going to be everywhere else---people felt strongly for him or against him, there was nobody in the middle.
Suddenly now the chapel service before Christmas vacation floods my memory. It is snowing outside, the students are packed and dressed for the trip home, and they will take off as soon as chapel is over. They have sung the hymns and said the prayers, and Coffin steps into the pulpit to say good-bye. "I hope you all have a wonderful vacation." There is a stirring and reaching for hats. "Now, wait a minute, w-a-a-i-t a minute! You're not getting off that easy! What do I mean by 'wonderful'? Wonderful means full of wonder. I want you to go home this Christmas full of wonder. I want you to wonder about your mother. What kind of a person is she? What does life mean to her? I want you to wonder about what you mean to her life. I want you to wonder about your father. Wonder about what he is worried about. What are his concerns? What's the toll of responsibility on him? Wonder about that jerk roommate of yours. He's human too, you know. Why does he have troubles? Spend some time wondering about him. And when you're dancing around with that sweet young thing in your arms, wonder about her. Because she's worth wondering about. I hope you all have a wonderful vacation!"
He is the best preacher I have ever listened to. He can drive you crazy because he is so superb and then can get carried away and go into the detail of a rape on the cold marble floor of a Harlem drugstore. Coming from the pulpit, that upsets a lot of people, especially older people. Bill's critics say he is an egotist, that he is more interested in a spectacular performance than in the essence of what he is saying. That just is not so. He is a deeply thoughtful and concerned man, with a showman's gift. I agree with Jack Stevens, who once said, "Bill Coffin is the only practicing Christian I know."
I told Coffin we had to have drownproofing at Arecibo. I told him about Freddy Lanoue, whom we would have to shake loose from Georgia Tech. The minute I mentioned Georgia, his hackles rose. "We're going to have blacks in Puerto Rico. We can't be subjecting them to any redneck prejudices." "Come off it, Bill," I said. "Anyway, Fred's a Canuck from Worcester, Massachusetts, and Springfield College, and everybody loves him." Coffin was unconvinced, about Lanoue and about drownproofing. "Get him up here," he said, "I'll have to talk with him." It was already evening when I reached Lanoue at his home in Atlanta. He greeted me with a string of affectionate expletives. I said, "Fred, what are you doing tonight?" "What do you mean, what am I doing tonight? It's eight-thirty." I said, "How fast can you get up here to Washington?" He said, "I can be there at quarter to twelve. I often make that flight," and he gave me the flight number.
I called a member of our Peace Corps team, Sally Bowles, daughter of Undersecretary of State Chester Bowles, at her parents' home in Georgetown. "Sally, I need your swimming pool tomorrow morning. Can we borrow it?" "I don't think you can," Sally said. "Mother's giving a lunch party for the African envoys, and they've been invited to come early for a swim." I assured Sally we would be there early and only needed an hour. We were given permission to use the Bowleses' pool with the understanding that we would be gone before the first guest arrived.
Coffin and I were waiting for Lanoue when his plane came in. I lost track of how many people stopped us between the gate and the car. ("Coach Lanoue, you don't remember me, but-" "Sure I remember you. You're such a dumb son of a bitch you nearly drowned.") It just seemed that every tenth person at National Airport was a friend of Freddy Lanoue.
In the morning, poolside at the Bowleses, Coffin was looking dubious. "All right now, Reverend," Fred said, "just put your hands behind your back and cross your wrists, that's a good boy. Let me tie 'em up tight. That's it. Now your feet. Not too tight? O.K. Usually we take twelve hours to get to this tie-up phase, but time is short." He pushed Coffin into the pool. "All right now goddammit, Reverend, you do as I say, or I'm going to drown you. Trouble with you reverse-collar so-and-so's is you never listen to anybody else. I got you trussed up real good, so now you better listen up, hear?"
Coffin was wild. He was so mad he could not talk. Lanoue began to teach him the basics of drownproofing. Every time Coffin made a mistake, Lanoue put a foot on his head and drove him down to the bottom of the pool. Bill would float up so mad that if he could have gotten loose, I think he would have torn Lanoue apart. When he surfaced, Fred would say something like, "For God's sake, Reverend, relax! I thought you were a man of faith!"
Pretty soon Coffin was getting the hang of it. "That's fine, Reverend, you got the rhythm just fine." He did the travel stroke to the shallow end, where I untied him. His wrists were bleeding; apparently he had panicked a bit in those moments on the bottom of the pool. We sat on the pool's edge while Fred gave us a fascinating discourse on the theory and practice of drownproofing. He finished just as the first of the Bowleses' guests arrived poolside. Recognizing Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., the historian and at that time a Kennedy staff member, Coffin introduced us. " Glad to meet you, Art," Lanoue said. "Put your hands behind your back." Before Schlesinger knew what was happening, he too was bobbing in the pool. In his case, however, Lanoue only tied his hands.
Now I spotted one of the African envoys coming out, a flowing white robe over his bathing suit. Lanoue walked up to him and held out his hand. "My name's Fred Lanoue, Ambassador, mighty pleased to meet you. Put your hands behind your back like a good boy and do exactly what I tell you." Soon he had the plenipotentiaries of a dozen African countries bobbing up and down with their hands tied. "Goddammit, Ambassador, I'm not going to tell you four times." Pow---he would reach out a foot and push the man under. Sally's mother came out, and I could see she was beside herself with anger. I was mortified. Then, watching, she began to smile. Her guests were having the time of their lives. Afterward Mrs. Bowles said it was one of the most successful luncheon parties she had ever given. Nobody in the world but Freddy Lanoue could have pulled that off, nobody. Coffin hired him.
The summer was a primer lesson in the uses of power. For Shriver, Haddad, and the rest, anything was possible. Who's the best guy for this or that? Get him! Coffin had hired Jack Snobble to be an instructor and to help him set up the Puerto Rican operation. Then Snobble told us he could not make it; he had to go on army reserve duty. When Haddad learned we were looking for someone to replace Snobble, he gave us what-for: "When are you guys going to catch on you're working for the U.S. government? Call Adam Yarmolinsky in McNamara's office and tell him the Peace Corps wants Snobble." It was that simple.
In August Coffin took off for Arecibo to rendezvous with Freddy Fuller, who had agreed to help make the project authentically Outward Bound. They had a scant six weeks in which to transform the scorpion- and tarantula-infested remnants of a lumber camp into a habitable "advanced training" base for Peace Corps volunteers about to go abroad on their appointed missions. coffin and Fuller were joined by Snobble, Reagh Wetmore, who had signed on to work with Lanoue, and Ray Slawson, an ex-Navy officer.
Snobble, recalling the masterful liaison-and-scrounge technique that brought the camp into being, says that while the Peace Corps may have been strictly nonmilitary, it would not have gotten off the ground in Puerto Rico without the gracious cooperation of all branches of the military service on the island, who loaned and gave to the camp vehicles, equipment, stores, and even manpower assistance. When Jack succeeded in cadging an overage bus and station wagon from Ramey Air Force Base, the motor pool there added a touch of class to the wagon by painting it with surplus off-color blue paint and emblazoning its identity in white letters. This seems to have been how the Peace Corps got its official colors, blue and white.
Coffin, happily aware of the direct power line into the White House maintained by his Washington superiors, refused to deal with anyone under the rank of general or admiral. On one occasion he went to the mat with a three-star official who was trying to withdraw a promise of four trucks. "General," he said, "if you welsh on those trucks, I'm going to wire our man in McNamara's office that you deserve a court-martial, disgrace, a firing squad, and an unmarked grave." Bill got the trucks. He made a frequent point of referring to "our man in the Pentagon.
Fortunately no one ever asked for the man's name.
Meanwhile, I was combining a family-vacation pack trip in Montana with my recruiting task. We came back through Jackson Hole, Wyoming, which was headquarters for Glen Exum's climbing school in the Tetons, where I had hired two of his guides. We drove on down to visit the Outward Bound site above Marble, where Tap Tapley was directing the building of the Colorado school. Chuck Froelicher, operating on a shoestring, had moved that project resolutely forward since our exploratory visit with Captain Fuller in March. Before deciding to buy the Marble property, he had sent Tapley out in his jeep to see if he could find anything better. Tapley had reported back in favor of the Marble site: It was isolated from resort areas. It was safe from fire, flood, and landslides. The water supply was adequate. It had a southern exposure. The access was satisfactory. And it was fantastically beautiful.
Tapley and Stroud had surveyed the area, marking off 45.2 acres. Tapley mapped out a plan and gave the map to Froelicher. With Stroud's permission---there was no money for the purchase yet---Tapley and a man named Al Kirsch started cutting aspen. Froelicher, who was giving all the time he could spare to lining up a board of directors and getting pledges, would visit the site and take pictures, which he then used to help raise funds. An access road had to be built, power lines put in, ditches dug for drainage and sewer lines, a large sewer plant installed, the building foundations put down, a ropes course built. Chuck recalls: "We would O.K. a project and then we'd have to find the money to pay for it. That can be motivating.."
Tapley hired a backhoe man and a bulldozer operator, and later carpenters and men to pour concrete for the sewer leaching beds. In June a volunteer work brigade of fourteen youngsters from Colorado Academy arrived.
We found Tap running an easy ship, yet everything shipshape. The boys lived in tepees they had put up. Tap had built a marvelous teepee for Lee and himself. There was an excellent outdoor cooking arrangement. Running spring water was being piped in. There was an archery range and a horseshoe pitch. It was the tidiest work camp I have ever seen. The boys worked mornings, and in the afternoons Tap gave them a course in mountaineering. In midsummer they put on a rock-climbing exhibition for parents, and Froelicher used those photos to raise more money.
Tapley, I was discovering, was a contemporary mountain version of renaissance man. He could live in the wilderness with nothing but a knife. He was a skilled hunter, tracker, trapper, fisherman, an expert axeman, a fine outdoor cook, a virtuoso with ropes and knots. A master of all trades, he could make anything and engineer anything. He had the greatest manual intelligence I have ever seen, could do the most minute things with his hands. He was a forester, fire fighter, mountaineer, canoeman, mule skinner, dogsled-team driver, navigator, meteorologist, avalanche expert, cliff evacuation expert, survival adept. He played the violin, and painted. He was a born athlete, a deadly horseshoe pitcher blindfolded. On that visit I learned his life story.
Ernest Tapley grew up in Amesbury, Massachusetts, son of the town baker, one-eighth Passamaquoddy Indian. In the winter of 1941, when he was seventeen, he had a job in North Conway, New Hampshire, as a busboy at the Eastern Slopes Inn, which was a social center of the great skiing boom that had recently come to the country. Whenever he got off from work, Tap skied. On a day in the early spring of 1940 he was in Tuckerman's Ravine on Mount Washington when Lowell Thomas, then at the peak of his fame as an author and radio commentator, was also skiing there. At that time few skiers had the combination of courage and technique to make a successful descent of Tuckerman's famed headwall; Tapley was one. Dining at the inn that evening, Thomas spotted him. If Tapley ever came out to Sun Valley, Idaho, Thomas told him, he would introduce him to the head of the ski patrol. A year later, without waiting to graduate from high school, Tap sold his bicycle and hitchhiked west. In Leadville, Colorado, he got a construction job, worked double shift until he had $300, and completed his journey to Idaho. In the fall he joined the Sun Valley ski patrol, one of the country's first paid patrols. In December the United States declared war on Japan and Germany. The following spring Tapley returned to Amesbury to get his diploma, so that he could join his Sun Valley buddies who were enlisting in the Tenth Mountain Division at Camp Hale, Colorado, to serve as winter skills instructors. Paul Petzoldt, a top U.S. mountaineer who was there as a civilian adviser, remembers spotting the youngster: "I thought, my gosh, he would be the guy to send to the Himalayas, because this guy had everything---strength, coordination, terrific intelligence and ability." The war and the ensuing years would separate them, but they were destined to have a partnership.
Tapley was one of a cadre of ten who were detached and sent to the Aleutian Islands to staff the North Pacific Combat School. At one juncture he was located at an outpost near the Arctic Circle, where it was his duty to brief visiting brass on a proposed air-base site. The base was to be developed as a precautionary measure against the possibility the Russian status might change to something other than ally.
Coming back to the "lower 48" after the war, Tap went into a partnership breaking wild horses. He helped develop the Whitefish Ski Area in Montana, operated his own ski school in Telemark, Wisconsin, then signed on as a U.S. forest ranger at Big Fork, Montana. The forest service was the finishing school in which he became the complete mountain man. After five years he left the service to help his mother, who was running a lodge at Redstone, Colorado. Jack Snobble, ex-Dartmouth skier and assistant headmaster of Rocky Mountain School in Carbondale, was a ski instructor at the lodge. It was Snobble, we have seen, who brought Tapley and Colorado Outward Bound together. "I'm always interested in trying something new," Tap told me.
He related the troubles he was having with Charlie Orlofsky, the sheriff of Marble. This was the beginning of a semi-epic feud between that officious gentleman and the Colorado School. In their long battle of wits Tapley usually managed to stay two steps ahead of the sheriff. One day that summer he got word that Orlofsky had lodged a complaint with the Marble Board of Health that Tap had a resident work crew and no refrigeration on the premises, which violated the code. A few days later the health inspector showed up. It was a hot day; after hiking up from his car, he was in a heavy sweat. "Have a seat," Tap said. "How about a glass of iced tea?" The inspector did a double take. "Iced tea! Up here?"
Tap went over to the aspen grove where the ropes course had been built and threw back the tarpaulin covering the camp's kerosene-operated refrigerator. He came back with two tall, moisture-beaded glasses of iced tea, cubes clinking, and handed one to the perspiring inspector. As the two men sipped their drinks, the inspector's gaze roved over the site. "Where do you put the garbage?" he asked. Tap pointed to the fire pit. The inspector walked over to the pit and poked with a stick. Nothing but clean ashes. He wandered around the camp and came back. He said, "This is the cleanest place I've inspected all summer. I don't know what the complaint is." Tap said, "I won't ask you who made the complaint. It isn't worth knowing." Charlie Orlofsky, who had not checked under the tarpaulin in the grove of aspen, never forgave that.
We went on to Denver and visited with the Froelichers. Gil Burnett was there. He was spending the summer at Marble and Denver, working on promotional material for the new Colorado Outward Bound School. The first Colorado course was still ten months away, but already that was beginning to seem close.
My son attended Minnesota Outward Bound two years ago. . . . He arrived in Duluth airport a little boy, frightened, lacking self-confidence, angry with the world, and with no ability to persevere. He bombed out of high school in his junior year. His month with MOBS produced all the miracles one might wish for, and on a lasting basis. He knows he's someone special . . . even changed his posture to be more erect. He has forgotten the words "I quit," Persists in difficult tasks until he is on top of them. He has staying power to reach for distant objectives. He has tolerance for the flaws in others. He has accepted society as necessary and stimulating. He has learned his real limits are much greater than he ever thought possible. Ben graduated in June from high school with honors. May you continue to supply others those conditions that stimulate people to reach their potential.
---Letter from a Minnesota student's parent
I returned East to open up the new Outward Bound headquarters in New Haven, Connecticut. Bill Coffin, now an Atlantic Foundation trustee, had made office space available in Yale's Dwight Hall. Helen Rawalt came with me on a two-month loan from the Colorado School. My charge from the Atlantic Foundation trustees was to see that the Colorado School opened with a full enrollment the following June, to guide establishment of additional schools, conduct public relations, raise scholarships, and develop an alumni organization.
During the summer Johnny Kemper and Coffin had followed up my visit to the Pieh camp in Minnesota. They saw Shining Trails in operation, did a canoe reconnaissance and got a dunking, had a good look at the Quetico Wilderness from the air, and discussed an arrangement for leasing the facilities from the Pieh family. The aerial reconnaissance northward into Canada gave them an awareness of the utter wildness of the country, where an expedition could go days without encountering another human.
Coffin also had another matter on his mind. Before becoming headmaster of the Anniston School, Bob Pieh had taught at the Indian Springs School in Alabama, which had been founded with money left by a Birmingham industrialist to create a model for secondary education in the state. Coffin was aware that the terms of the will originally restricted attendance to "white Caucasians." He had no sooner arrived at Shining Trails than he put the question to Pieh: What was a Yankee like him with his humanistic Antioch background doing in a school that placed such restrictions on its student body? Bob could satisfy him on that score because diligent efforts by trustees and faculty had succeeded in getting around the restrictive covenant, first for Jewish youngsters, and eventually for blacks.
Kemper and Coffin came away satisfied that the Pieh proposal was sound. Kemper made a second trip, to Minneapolis and St. Paul, where he undertook to interest a group of Andover alumni and others in helping to form a board of trustees for the proposed new school. Among them was Louis F. "Bo" Polk, one of the Twin Cities' brightest young businessmen. At thirty-two Polk was a vice-president of General Mills.
On October 7, 1963, the Atlantic Foundation approved formation of the Minnesota Outward Bound School, to be opened the following summer. At a meeting two months later the Piehs made a progress report that included the names of the fifteen men comprising the school's board of trustees, with Polk as chairman. In addition to his own dynamic energies, Polk was able to involve other resources at General Mills. One of the people he brought on the board was John Burger, a member of the company's public relations department. Although Pieh was resigning his school post in order to be a full-time director of the Minnesota School, he had to finish out the school year in Alabama. Polk, Burger, and other members of Polk's staff became the ad hoc staff for the school in the months before it opened, responsible for publicity, promotion, scholarships, and recruitment. Burger, working at the task virtually full time, did a splendid job in getting out publicity and literature and building community support. I would go out to the Twin Cities, and John would have a staggering schedule of meetings set up for me, as many as four in a day. John would always be in the back of the room when I talked, giving me a three-minute sign, two, one, and then the cut gesture. He was a tiger on preventing overkill of an audience.
An Andover alumnus and former Andover teacher in Minneapolis whom Kemper had had no difficulty in proselyting was A. Lachlan Reed. Because a relative had married a former Gordonstoun student who idolized Kurt Hahn, Lach was already well aware of Hahn's work. He took on with Polk the task of raising funds to cover needed capital expenditures for construction and equipment. General Mills also helped by putting up $7,500 for scholarships for sons of their employees around the country. The Avalon Foundation and the Old Dominion Foundation each made a seeding grant of $25,000; $10,000 of the total was to help support Outward Bound Inc., which had just been established, the balance of $40,000 going to the school's scholarship fund.
During the spring school vacation the Piehs flew overseas for a round of visits to the British Outward Bound schools. They signed on Ralph Clough and Colin Bolton, an instructor at Ullswater, for the Minnesota staff. The Minnesotans too recognized the value of using British instructors to facilitate transplant of the Outward Bound philosophy and method to American soil. In June the Minnesota Outward Bound School opened the first of the summer's two courses with an enrollment of ninety-six students comprising eight twelve-man "brigades."
For Bob Pieh the Minnesota beginning was the "catching of a train for perhaps an infinite journey" that he very much wanted to be on. He had grown up in Madison, Wisconsin. A natural athlete, he played all sports avidly. Also, from when he was very young, he nurtured his growth on an affinity for the out-of-doors.
"I found a lot of religion in natural phenomena," he says. "This grounded my concepts of God and ethical development." The Pieh family was hit hard by the Depression. After his father's death during his senior year of high school, Bob attended the University of Wisconsin part-time while working for the city of Madison. He was made assistant to the city's recreation director, became involved in adult education, worked nights on a newspaper sports desk.
Browsing in the university library, Bob happened on something Kurt Hahn had written. Impressed, he continued to collect Hahn items. When he graduated from Wisconsin with a B.S. In biology, he had enough other credits to qualify him also to teach English, history, or physical education. A few years after joining the faculty of Antioch College in Ohio he was made chairman of its health, physical education, and recreation department, directing the academic program for students in the field and coordinating physical education for the student body. In the latter role Bob extended the available electives far beyond conventional sports. He encouraged students to play the games of other nations as a way to gain insight into foreign cultures. He developed an "open country" program, a mix of trekking, campcraft, canoeing, and other outdoor activities, that became more popular than any of the standard sports. There were also teams organized as clubs that represented the college, sometimes students and faculty together. Bob played on the soccer team. He sought ways to use physical education to help build a genuine college community:
"We encouraged the faculty to play too, and made sure they didn't feel inferior if they needed to learn skills or improve themselves physically. Our conditioning program included Swedish and Danish free exercises and some yoga. We were interested in why the Eastern yogi advocated physical purification before advancing toward the spiritual. At that time there wasn't much in print on yoga---I had to write the universities in Calcutta and Bombay. So we had a healthy mix, a crazy quilt of experience that I think Kurt Hahn would have approved."
In 1957 Pieh went to Alabama. Summers he ran wilderness outposts for private camps, leading their youngsters on canoe trips into the Quetico. He bought the Minnesota property, where the Pieh family developed a camp and-canoe expedition base for families and student groups. Continuing to glean Kurt Hahn material, he became aware of the roots of Outward Bound in England and felt he was using a kindred approach in his own educational efforts. Then one day he read in Time magazine that a U.S. Outward Bound school had been started in Colorado. Suddenly events seemed to be passing him by. "I had this strong feeling that the train was starting to leave the station. I told myself, if this really represents what you most want to do, you'd better act." That was when he wrote to Kemper.
In that first summer of 1964 the Minnesota School operated under physical handicaps. New construction was incomplete. A generator provided limited electricity. The water system, while approved, was improvised. Meals had to be cooked in the old resort main building and carried up to the unfinished dining hall during the first course. Pieh gave the students a sense of belonging by making the unfinished tasks part of the curriculum.
None of these physical shortcomings at Homeplace---the name the Piehs gave to the school base at Ely---diminished the positive aspects of the program. The students received a ten-day basic training in canoe fundamentals, swimming, drownproofing, water rescue, camping and cooking skills, map and compass route-finding, fire fighting, and survival technique, and took short training expeditions. A spectacular ropes course and a variety of initiative tests built positive attitudes and teamwork. An interbrigade competition was built into the activities. After the training period each brigade took off on a long canoeing expedition, heading tip into the Canadian wilderness. Two men to a canoe, six canoes per brigade, and a seventh for the instructor and his assistant. The routes threading a maze formed by rivers and lakes. The portages often exceedingly difficult, the dense bush testing determination and endurance, the arduous day's run sometimes extending into the long northern twilight. A three-day solo, followed by a final expedition, the brigade making its way back to Homeplace on its own. The marathon, the students writing their course impressions, and home.
The shaping process I observed at Minnesota renewed my awareness, acquired in my British exposure, that each school, while adhering to the essential concept, develops its particular personality and ambiance. This is partly a matter of geography and environment, but mostly, I think, the product of the leadership. The Piehs put their own mark on Homeplace and the wilderness activities. In a later time Jerry Pieh was to think back: "U.S. Outward Bound was then heavily into the challenge issues. There was a heavy emphasis on that in the beginning, and I think rightfully so. We also had a hidden agenda. We wanted to emphasize as much the beauty of nature and the importance of human relationships and caring for other people as we did the physical side of the program. We consciously did things that were intended to help kids appreciate natural beauty, and to emphasize humanistic kinds of values."
Among the students in M-1 were Lach Reed's eldest son and a school friend. Lach remembers: "The friend was the son of a millionaire, handsome, bright, a good athlete, and obnoxiously conceited. A spoiled rich kid. I'll never forget picking up those two at the Greyhound station when they came back from their course. My son said, 'Gee, Dad, it was a great experience,' and he and this boy got in the back seat. I said to his friend, 'How was it for you?' 'Mr. Reed,' he said, 'it's the greatest experience I ever had. For the first time I realize what a horse's ass I've been all my life."
Lach, who was with the Honeywell Corporation, got a second insight that first year into the salutary influence Outward Bound could have on a youngster. James Binger, Honeywell president, gave money for two scholarships and told Lach to select the recipients, preferably from a Honeywell family. "Just about then a toolmaker in my department came to me and said, 'I hear you're helping to start a survival camp or something up north. I have a son who's not worth the powder to blow him up. He's sixteen, he quit high school at fourteen, he lies in bed all day smoking cigarettes and is out all night. I've tried everything, and he's just a mess. Would you take him?' I called Bob Pieh and told him about this kid and the scholarship, and Bob said, 'Sure.' I saw the boy up there at the start of his course, and he did bear out his father's just-a-mess description. The boy completed that course, came home and got a job right away, and enrolled in high school at night. His father said to me, 'Lach, it's absolutely unbelievable how that kid has changed!' I kept track of him for several years. He finished high school and the last I knew he was still doing fine."
On January 9, 1964, incorporation papers were drawn up creating Outward Bound Inc. They provided for OBI, as it would come to be known, to take over the Outward Bound responsibilities that the Atlantic Foundation had been discharging. The incorporators were the Rev. William S. Coffin Jr., John M. Kemper, Mrs. Ellen Z. McCloy, Joshua L. Miner, John P. Stevens Jr. These five were named trustees, along with General Bruce C. Clarke, H. Wentworth Eldredge, F. Charles Froelicher, Thomas B. Hartmann, and Fred I. Kent II. At the first trustee meeting I was elected president of OBI. It was a full-time salaried position; I was now wholly committed to Outward Bound and its future growth and welfare.
In June we returned to Andover, where the Outward Bound headquarters would be located for the next six years.