In celebration of Colorado Outward Bound School’s 60th Anniversary we have launched a Reconnect With Your Crew campaign to help our alumni stay in touch with the COBS community and to learn updates about what our alumni are doing out in the world. We had the pleasure of reconnecting with 1998 alumni, Don Cox, who spent the last few years working on a romance novel, The Four Year Hitch.
Don Cox attended a Colorado Outward Bound School (COBS) course in the summer of 1998. Don reflects on his time with COBS as a transformative and learning filled experience. Through forming a strong and cohesive crew from strangers, alpine backpacking, whitewater rafting and many more challenges faced, Don states that his experience helped enhance his professional and personal life in various ways.
A few of the greatest takeaways for Don, post-course, include the ability to enhance his personal relationships and reorient his work relationships. Don also reflects on his newfound confidence and clarity to prioritize the many different aspects of life, both personally and professionally. Lastly, Don was able to leave course with a greater appreciation and understanding of the outdoors.
Today Don lives in Garland, Texas as a retired professional who is active in tree farming, consulting, traveling, and writing. Don sought out to write a romance novel in 2020 and the that is exactly what he did. Don’s book, The Four Year Hitch is available to read now – fellow COBS alumni might recognize and relate to a section of the story as the book’s protagonist Julie embarks on a vital and formative Colorado Outward Bound School experience. Read Don’s reflections on why he wrote The Four Year Hitch and why he used his COBS experience to tell the story.
“Writing a good romance novel looks easy but isn’t. Think of it this way: More than 9,000 identified romance writers are in the country. They published 48 million copies of their books in 2021, with over $1 billion in sales. Authors have used every conceivable storyline (or “trope”). To believe you can write an original story that will sell takes hubris. In 2020, during the pandemic, I thought I could. Like many people during 2020, I was quarantined inside my home and watched many romantic comedies. They’re 88 minutes long, and the characters get their “happily-ever-after” in the last three minutes.
I watched one rom-com that caught my eye. It had an infrequently used plot twist and photogenic actors. The boy and girl split up on schedule and mend their relationship as expected. But their struggle to reconnect was too easy for my taste. The ending was too predictable and lame. I could write it better, so I fired up my laptop and wrote 200 words. They were terrible, so I erased them. It wasn’t as easy as I’d thought. However, two years later, I had completed and published The Four Year Hitch, the story I wanted. It has all the basics of a good romance. I keep the two protagonists apart for three years, making it more difficult for them to find each other and get their happily-ever-after.
In the romance genre of books, the protagonists should undergo “character growth.” They need this personal growth to reconnect and mend their broken relationship. For my male protagonist, Joshua, it was joining the military, learning how to be responsible for his buddies, and finding the courage to defend his country. For my female protagonist, Julie, it wasn’t so easy. She was already intelligent, beautiful, and successful, so finding a way to give her “character growth” was problematic.
The answer was Outward Bound. Julie worked for an architectural firm, and her management wanted to move her into an executive position at a young age. But she didn’t have the self-confidence to handle an upper-level role. I (the author) decided to send her to the Outward Bound experience giving her the confidence she needed. Chapter 6 details her experience with COBS, essentially my experience as an attendee in 1998. It was the perfect fit for the book. It gave Julie the confidence to succeed at her new job as a senior executive and the courage to find Josh and correct the personal, romantic difficulties she had in her life.”
To read more about Don Cox and his book, The Four Year Hitch, visit Home – Don Cox Author. The Four Year Hitch is available now for purchase at most bookstores and online retailers. Reconnect with your COBS crew by filling out this simple form and receive a limited-edition sticker sheet in the mail.