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Summer Camps, Wilderness Programs,
There is a wide variety of outdoor programs including environmental education, conservation education, adventure education, wilderness therapy, adventure therapy, camping, and outdoor recreation.
There are nonprofit and for-profit outdoor programs, religious camps, programs run by national organizations, private camps, day camps, camps that run weekend sessions, residential programs that run for the entire summer, or long-term residential camps that offer wilderness camping and adventure as therapy.
An important outcome is emotional growth whether or not it is intentionally built into the program structure. Outdoor programs have helped teens improve in
The goals of summer camps and other recreation programs are fun, enjoyment, and recreation. Through these goals, camp participants can learn social skills, become more socially comfortable, more open to trying new things, learn empathy and cooperation, and different ways of responding to new and challenging situations.
It is at camp where the underachieving teen suddenly takes a leadership role on an overnight hike; the shy child assumes the lead role in a dramatic production; a clumsy child learns she excels in art. All of these experiences build character and develop leadership skills.
Although parents will often see dramatic changes in their teen's attitude, behavior, and motivation, summer camps are a good choice for teens who are not having major behavior problems. Fun activities, connecting with new peers and enjoying some structured independence are all benefits of summer camping for teens.
Special needs camps can positively affect teens with issues such as ADHD, Asperger Syndrome, obesity, learning differences, or behavioral problems. By nature of their focus, there is usually more emphasis on staff training and support. Administrative staff will have a background in the field and counselors will either be professionals or college students aspiring to work in the helping professions.
A summer camp is a good choice for teens
Wilderness programs are not designed as therapy, but are intended to have a positive impact on emotional growth, character development, and general psychological well-being. The challenges faced in the outdoors bring about a greater understanding of self, others, and the natural world.
Many wilderness programs incorporate an element of perceived risk which encourages teens to move beyond their comfort zones and face their issues and fears. Moving out of the usual environment helps to reduce defensiveness and change relationships with adult leaders.
Wilderness programs are also relatively free from external forces -- peers, school, family, TV, other societal influences -- and so provide the opportunity to explore new responses and develop new patterns of thought and behavior.
These programs provide teens an opportunity to go beyond their self-imposed limitations. Groups engage in a series of activities that promote individual abilities, teamwork, good communication, and leadership skills. Individual and group success is achieved through peer support and encouragement, not physical strength. There is no place for blame, denial, excuses, and other defense mechanisms.
Most wilderness programs use a small-group format and encourage interdependence and cooperation among group members. In expedition programs, where teens and counselors venture out into natural settings for extended periods of time, the 24-hour-a-day group experience becomes very powerful.
In general, wilderness programs build self-esteem, leadership, academics, personality, and interpersonal relations, with self-esteem change being most significant.
Adventure Therapy Programs
Adventure therapy programs use the outdoors as a part of therapy, or use an adventure activity -- such as wilderness expeditions -- to guide towards therapeutic goals. Real or perceived risk, uncertainty of outcome, and personal decision-making help bring about behavioral change and personal growth.
For treating teens with emotional, behavioral, and substance abuse disorders, adventure therapy, with its hands-on approach, can be an effective treatment choice. Adventure therapy focuses on creating personal change through learning by doing. It presents opportunities for trust and personal growth to help teens experience feelings of self-worth, to assume responsibility for their own actions, and to internalize new coping skills.
Parents need to make some decisions concerning the type of program that is most appropriate and then gather some basic information about programs offering this type of experience.
Friends, relatives, or neighbors may have recommendations based on their experiences. If you're looking for a religious program, talk with your clergy and find out if your church organization sponsors any camps, or knows of a related religious organization that runs a camp. Your local Y, Scouts, Camp Fire Boys and Girls, the school system, or recreation department may also sponsor outdoor programs.
Camp fairs, which take place in many locations around the country, are an excellent place to pick up literature, talk to staff, and ask questions. Camp fairs are usually advertised in newspapers, magazines, and other local media.
Consult with your child's therapist on therapeutic outdoor programs if adventure therapy has been recommended. Your child's home therapist will have some level of involvement during your child's residential stay and after-care.
Research any program thoroughly. Learn the program's philosophy and ask the program to describe its goals and mission. Find out how long the program has been operating. Ask about the admission criteria. Don't hesitate to ask questions.
Talk directly to the staff at the outdoor program and not independent marketers who often misrepresent themselves and give misleading information. You should be able to speak directly with the program director, counseling supervisor, clinical director, and medical staff.
about the education and certification of the director and other program staff.
Find out the ages of the counselors and how they are screened, chosen, and
trained. Find out if there are any current lawsuits against the program,
and if any staff member has ever been charged with physical or
against a child. Find out about the staff turnover rate.
against a child. Find out about the staff turnover rate.
Ask about the qualifications, training and licensure of the program's medical staff. Most programs have an on-site infirmary staffed by a nurse or other qualified medical personnel. In addition to treating cuts, insect bites and other injuries, infirmary staff are responsible for storing and administering medications and monitoring children with special medical needs.
Check on how the program is licensed and/or accredited. Most states require licensure although this varies from state to state. The program director can tell you how to contact the state licensing agency to check the program's compliance history -- this is a matter of public record.
Accreditation is voluntary and the standards for accreditation by the American Camping Association are more stringent than what the state requires. Ask to see a copy of the last accreditation report or their last safety report.
Other accrediting agencies such as the Council on Accreditation (COA) and the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO) accredit some programs.
Be sure to ask for references, the names of parents and teens who attended the program and who would be willing to talk with you and your child about their experiences.
Other important information to know includes:
An important factor in finding the right outdoor program is the trust and comfort level between parents and staff. However, trust must be backed up by facts. The more parents and the program believe in each other and are working toward the same goals, the better the teen's chance of a positive, enriching, and empowering experience.
Christian program for boys, ages 16-20, with year-round enrollment.
Program includes conservation work, animal husbandry, and wildlife rehabilitation
by John Eldredge
This is a book about how a boy -- and a man -- becomes a man. We live in a time where most men and boys are essentially fatherless. Whatever their circumstances, they have no man actually taking them through the many adventures, trials, battles and experiences they need to shape a masculine heart within them. They find themselves on their own to figure life out, and that is a lonely place to be. Their fears, anger, boredom and their many addictions all come out of this fatherless place within them, a fundamental uncertainty in the core of their being. Eldredge reveals how God takes a man on the masculine journey and how parents can lead their sons to manhood. Visit Adolescence and Emotional Health.
by Gerald G. May
Psychiatrist May (1940–2005), known for his works blending psychology and spirituality (Addiction and Grace), chose the theme and milieu of Nature for this, his last book. Chronicling outdoor forays he took from 1990 to 1995, May's elegant prose uses a storyteller's magic to plumb the profound mystery of outside events that provoke and foster inner change. May is a kind of Christian Zen master, but this book doesn't favor a particular religious tradition so much as the deep wild of nature's way. In this work for everyone, he wants us to understand that wilderness is our natural state and that contemplative communion with the "Power of the Slowing" will bring us safely home to our wild eternal selves.
by Richard Louv
Today's youth are increasingly disconnected from the natural world, says child advocacy expert Louv, even as research shows that "thoughtful exposure of youngsters to nature can... be a powerful form of therapy for attention-deficit disorder and other maladies." Instead of passing summer months hiking, swimming and telling stories around the campfire, young people these days are more likely to attend computer camps or weight-loss camps: as a result, they've come to think of nature as more of an abstraction than a reality. Louv argues for a return to an awareness of and appreciation for the natural world. Not only can nature teach science and nurture creativity, nature needs its young people: where else will its future stewards come from?
© 2008 Focusas.com