A new study by Dr. Michael Gass of the University of New Hampshire indicates teens are safer in wilderness therapy programs than they are in their own homes. The study is published in the Journal of Therapeutic Schools and Programs.
In a statement released by the University, Dr. Gass says, “After ‘does this program work?’, the question most asked by people considering adventure therapy is ‘will my child be safe?’” Dr. Gass is a professor of outdoor education in the kinesiology department at UNH. He wrote the article with lead author Stephen Javorski, a UNH doctoral student.
“While no one can guarantee the unconditional safety of any child, we can now show the relative risk levels for adolescents. This study shows there is actually less risk to participants on wilderness therapy programs, when they are conducted correctly, than to adolescents in their normal everyday activities.”
You can read more about the study at: http://www.unh.edu/news/releases/2013/mar/bp28wilderness.cfm#ixzz2PEdT4Pdu
We’ve done the research and found some very interesting information that we want to share with you. This information comes from surveys done by on Facebook as well as a study conducted by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.
With changes in teen behavior in the last ten years, we feel that to properly address the issues facing so many of our children today, we must remove the distractions and get to the heart of the matter. That’s why we focus on wilderness therapy for teens. Leaving it all behind allows the teens that come to our program the chance to get to know themselves and confront their challenges.
We hope you enjoy this information.
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The RedCliff Ascent field is covered with Juniper trees. In a small number of these trees you can find a dark barky growth called a gall. The gall is the tree’s reaction to a fungus or rust that has infected the branches. Most often, the branch with the gall dies, leaving a bare branch with the unsightly gall surrounding it. It is easy to assume this gall is of no value and a blight on the tree.
However, if you pluck one of these Juniper galls and begin to sand down the rough bark outer coating, you reveal a beautiful burl wood pattern underneath. With further sanding and shaping one can form a beautiful pendant with fascinating burl wood grain. A coat of varnish completes a piece worthy to be worn as a necklace.
We use these Juniper galls to illustrate to our students that regardless of how ugly our behavior has made us, no matter what we have become whether by choice or circumstance, no matter how insignificant or unimportant we may feel, there is something beautiful underneath that dark, barky gall we think ourselves to be.
We can always sand down that rough outer coating to reveal the beauty our own experiences have formed in use. With some shaping and fine polishing we can become a person of value and inner beauty. The process is hard and often painful but the results reveal that our struggles can create an amazing tapestry of life experiences worthy to be shared with all. - Darren Jensen, Backup driver
Our Shindig celebration happens about once every three months. It’s a chance for students to gather at Outpost with their peers and celebrate their wilderness experience. Here’s a letter we received from one of our current students. We think it shows the respect and concern we have for all of the troubled teens enrolled in our program.
To whom it may concern:
Some students here at RCA calls this the “grievance” process in which they express their complaints of feelings of injustice. I believe that if this channel of communication can be used to complain it can also be used to thank and show appreciation.
On Wednesday of last week, Shindig was held. It was a wonderful event that allowed groups to show team cohesiveness and have fun at the same time. I’m sure that I share the sentiment as all the other students that attended in saying that it was a really wonderful event. I would like to thank everyone responsible for the success of Shindig; I really enjoyed it.
Also; I entered the poetry sharing part of Shindig and at the end I was offered and Almond Joy chocolate. I am allergic to nuts and made the gentleman who was giving out the candy aware of that. Upon sitting in my seat I was approached by a lady who told me that she’d let someone know about my allergy to nuts; then a gentleman came and asked me to name a chocolate that I liked and he said he would have it sent out. I told him that a Milky Way would be fine and he said Okay.
To my surprise the next day at about midday Snow Owl came to my group and delivered to me the Milky Way. I didn’t expect it to come out that fast and I’m happy that it did.
I just wanted to write this letter to express my gratitude and appreciation for a great Shindig and the courtesy and wonderful hospitality that I received with regards to my nut allergy.
Have a good day!
E., Ravens group
Mark wrote this response to our request for grads to share their RedCliff wilderness experiences. We thought you might relate:
hi, my name is mark and i was in redcliff 8 years ago now, i still dream of my memories of that place, i find it amazing how we take so many simple things for granted and redcliff has a way of opening your eyes to the beauty of the world and eachother, the power of recieving letters from your loved ones and being able to read them 1000 times and get a different meaning every time is just magic,
i come from ireland and to be honest at first i would never of considered this place for me to go, i didnt speak to my parents and done everything to push them as far from my life as i could, one day they asked me to sit at the table on a monday and told me about redcliff and that an oppurtunity had come up for me to go on thursday, after months of not speaking to my parents i physicaly broke down in tears as i couldnt believe that after everything i had done they still loved me enough to try and allow me to help myself, i knew i had to do this so i decided to go
i joined a group called the ravens, i found it strange at first everyone being called iron wolf and whispering eagle and so on lol, i remember my first experience was when we went to sit for dinner and i asked where is my fork and the leader said go find a branch and make one, i thought this was a joke but they were serious, pulling splinters from my lips on my first nite was not what i was expecting lol
i found myself growing very jealous of the other members in my team as it took me over a month before i bowed my first cole, the sense of accomplishment over a cole was overwhelming, passing my first 2 phases in the folder i never thought id be so grateful of salt and pepper lol
when i arrived at redcliff i saw myself as a sheep but as time went on i seen myself as a shepard, i led our group and provided support to other members in the team, i couldnt believe i was a leader. i made such an effort to keep everyones spirits up and used to sing a song, anyone reading this who knows this song will remember who i am = ill tell me ma when i come home the boys wont leave those girls alone, they pull my hair and stole my comb but thats alright till i go home, she is handsome she is pretty, she is the bell of belfast city, she is counting 123 please will you tell me who is she = i couldnt believe the sense of pride i got when i recieved my name ( Discover Fire Starter) after it took me so long to get my first fire i made it my goal to get my fire badge which i did, to be 1 of only a few people to of achieved this makes me very very proud
this whole experience has completely changed my life and the person that i am, i love life again and love me for me, you all are wonderful people and i have nothing but respect and love for what you have done for me, you will stay in my heart forever and i will return to work for you to give back what i got
id like to leave you with a poem i wrote on solo that still to this day makes me cry when i read it:
as i lie here now and the rain hits my head, i remember long ago wishing i was dead, those thoughts hurt and all of that pain, wouldnt leave my head i drove myself insane, but suicide wasnt the answer my family was, they helped me day by day, to them i give my applause, no matter what i did they still kept strong, even through the drugs which i did for so long, as i sit here now i realise what ive done, so ill stay and face my problems no longer will i run, cos runnings what i did i ran from my fears, i ran from my worries and from my parents tears, because it was my blindness that stopped this in the past, but im part of a family again and this i will make last, thinking of them now it is clear to see, im no longer just mark, i am mark halpenny,you have made me realise who i am inside, my thoughts now warm my heart and fill me up with pride, because as i lie here now and look at stars above, i realise theres only one drug i want, and thats the drug of LOVE!!!
thanks again for taking the time to read this, i will never forget what you all did for me and one day i will return the favour, thats a promise!!!
Congratulations to Trevor, Melinda, Gabriella and John! They shared their RedCliff stories and won Kindle e-readers. You should be receiving them today. John – we’re still trying to figure out how to ship yours. Who knew Canada was on the “no ship” list?
Watch for each of their posts coming to our blog beginning tomorrow. Share your comments and your own RedCliff story.
What’s your RedCliff experience? In honor of our new Facebook site – www.facebook.com/RCAscent – we’re giving you a chance to like us there and share your story here.
What’s your connection to us? Share your story here, “like” us on our new page, and you could end up winning an e-reader. (You know how critical good Kindle-ing is.)
Here are the official rules:
1. Like us on Facebook – RCAscent – and post a comment here about why you like us.
2. Post your comment here between April 1 and May 1, 2012.
3. No purchase necessary.
4. Winners may not be Ascent employees or family members of any Ascent employees.
5. Winners chosen at random and will be notified by email.
6. No bow/drill set necessary to win.
Thanks for being part of the RedCliff family and good luck! We can’t wait to hear from you.
While it may not make intuitive sense, winter is my favorite time of year in the wilderness of Southern Utah. I have spent about 18 winters in the field with the concomitant adventure that each of those winters has presented. I think the thing that I like most about winter is the clarity that it brings to every situation. There is an immediacy and emergent quality associated with winter and the necessary tasks of each day and there is little latitude for obfuscation and avoidance. There will typically be at least one late night in the field with students every week in the winter. The crisp chill of the air and freezing temperatures are strong motivation for students to remain by the fire with me and encounter themselves with the clarity that winter brings. Traveling out of the vast expanse of our field on chilly winter evenings with snow on the ground and a bright moon provides clarity of the valleys and mountains which is unlike that observed during daylight hours. A vision and direction for desired travel is illuminated and the certainty of obtaining the goal destination of travel is bolstered. On evenings such as these it is not difficult to foster a sense of accomplishment for the day’s efforts and an appreciation for those students who are finding new meaning in their own lives.
Just as the opportunity for clarity is presented on those late winter evenings, the potential to become significantly lost is just as strong in the winter as well. Many is the time when I have found myself hiking away from a group’s isolated location to return to my vehicle which would have been left at an accessible point on the road. Winter storms are good at covering tracks that were made on the hike from the vehicle to the group earlier in the day. When the clouds impede the light of the moon and snow is falling in a blizzard-like rate, misdirection in the dense woods of juniper and pinion pine is quite easily taken. In the earlier days of Redcliff I used to berate myself on these late-night wanderings for not taking a compass reading when I left my vehicle. Slow to learn, now I also continue to question my actions in not setting a waypoint on my gps. I always have a number of rationalizations as to why I failed to do either of those actions in preparation for a dark hike through the woods. I typically tell myself that I have been out here long enough that I know the area well enough that I shouldn’t get lost, but every time I get lost I realize whatever rationalizations I may have made hold little comfort. The landscape and navigation markers change quite rapidly in the midst of a blizzard. Regardless as to how it “should” be, the reality of confusion and vulnerability requires a coping response to the situation. Much like the students that find themselves at Redcliff, the initial tendency is to continue to forge ahead doing the same thing that I was doing, regardless of the fact that I was actually moving myself further from my intended destination. I have found myself wandering in circles and on occasion, moving in a direction 180 degrees away from the correct path. Without an effective coping strategy, it is quite easy to exacerbate the situation from something that was initially mildly disconcerting to a situation which could potentially become life-threatening. At that point, I must remind myself that whatever I am doing is not effective and I must disrupt the process somehow. I typically do this now by repeating to myself a verse that I discovered a few years back by David Wagoner. It is a poem entitled “Lost”.
Stand still. The trees ahead and the bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask it permission to know it and to be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it you may come back again saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.
The first step is always to stand still. I find that to be the most difficult thing for us as humans. We want to keep the frenetic energy of the old patterns and delusions of control in place. We give verbal homage to the idea of becoming more effective humans, but we tend to stumble through the darkness with no sense of direction and purpose. It is only on those occasions where we can be still and let the direction and purpose find us do we then know how to really proceed. After those periods of blindly wandering around, the reemergence of clarity is a welcome relief. Dr. Daniel Sanderson, RedCliff Ascent Therapist
When your family becomes part of ours we feel honored and committed to provide the very best therapy for your child. Recently, we received this email from the parents of one of our grads. With their permission, we’ve changed their names in order to share their feelings with you:
John and I wanted to officially thank all the instructors and Winter Rose who has made such a difference to Susan’s life. It is so encouraging to see Susan use the skills she has developed, to make better decisions. We are so grateful for the help and support that the team has shown Susan and for the lessons in life that have been shared. We are excited about the opportunities that await Susan as she continues to reach her potential.
Your program is a cutting edge, worthwhile and life changing experience. What a wonderful opportunity you have to improve the lives of young adults. We cannot thank you enough for restoring the life of our beautiful daughter.
With Sincere thanks,