Transforming the lives of at-risk youth by providing grants, support, and hope through wilderness therapy programs and beyond.
Our vision is for youth to achieve their full potential as healthy and valued members of society.
- We believe that the cost of attending wilderness therapy programs and follow-on therapeutic programs should not be a barrier to anyone who requires critical and immediate support.
- We believe the best prospects of success for a youth in crisis and their family is to combine wilderness therapy programs followed by transitional support services and follow-on therapeutic treatment options.
- We believe that families in crisis are experiencing significant emotional challenges and by reducing the financial stress, and providing supporting resources, youth and families can focus on treatment and regain hope.
- We believe we can be a change agent in our communities by providing important financial and support resources that enable at risk youth to renew their lives, achieve their potential so they can become valued contributors in their families and communities.
- We believe that the sky is literally the limit for youth to achieve their maximum potential
Why Wilderness Therapy
Wilderness therapy programs use the wilderness as a tool to quickly and effectively impact students at risk. Experiential in nature, emotional growth wilderness programs provide struggling youth an opportunity to challenge themselves physically and emotionally while exploring the unhealthy behaviors that have prevented them from making progress in their lives. The wilderness program environment provides a supportive, non-judgmental arena in which students can process their limiting beliefs and core issues, and begin to view themselves and their abilities from a different perspective. The challenges inherent in a wilderness setting provide daily success experiences which serve to challenge old, negative beliefs and lead to new, more positive self-perceptions.
The Emergence of Wilderness Therapy
Adolescents in the United States are very much at risk, brought on in recent years by profound cultural changes, including unstructured home environments from an increase in two-income households and one-parent families, and a media culture that bombards adolescents with images of sex, violence and excitement. These and other cultural stimuli have contributed to the epidemic of emotional disorders in US adolescents. Four million of the 26 million adolescents between the ages of 12 and 19 have emotional problems severe enough to require treatment, with a Center for Disease Control study indicating that one out of 12 high school students attempted suicide in the year preceding the study (In Davis-Berman & Berman, 1994). These disturbing statistics are consistent with the estimate that between 70% to 80% of the children with clinical mental disorders may not be getting the mental services they need (Tuma, 1989).
Not enough mental health services are available that are suited for adolescents' unique needs. There is a lack of miple ground between outpatient services, which may be inadequate and to which adolescents are often unlikely to commit, and inpatient programs which may be overly restrictive (Tuma, 1989). Wilderness therapy is helping bridge the gap between these extremes, it's appeal strengthened by a growing reputation for economy and therapeutic effectiveness when compared with other mental health services.
By Keith C. Russell and John C. Hendee
Wilderness Research Center University of Idaho