by Jillian Broeckert
RedCliff Ascent Wilderness Therapist
For a good portion of my life I felt like an outsider, never really fitting in, having very few friends I really clicked with, whom I thought understood me.
Piece one: I grew up in the north woods of Minnesota, so I have always had the wilderness and it has always been where I have felt most at home, most alive. Piece two: I come from a blended family, divorce, and all the struggles and joys that come with it. Piece three: I come from a long line of addicts. Piece four: after six years in my undergrad trying to find the right major for me I ended up with a degree in Marriage, Family, and Human Development. And while I am sure there are more pieces, those are the ones that stick out the most to me now.
In 2005, I graduated with my bachelors, knowing I needed a job and not sure what that would look like. I had heard about RedCliff Ascent Wilderness Therapy and it definitely interested me, though I had been scared to death to actually apply, to go out on my own in a whole new environment where I knew no one. Being a fairly reserved person, this was terrifying for me. And I decided to look into it, only halfheartedly committed to following through.
Then it all happened so fast. I called up the staff director, “Can you be here Friday for training?” No time to think it through really, only time to jump in and I did. I had never felt more out of my comfort zone, and after my first week, I had never felt more at home. This has been a theme for me over my 8+ years in wilderness therapy, feeling out of my comfort zone and at home. Wilderness has pushed me to go through my own therapeutic process, to grow in ways I never thought possible. I went back to school and got my Masters. It has brought me a peace and contentment in life that I once thought I would never achieve. To this day wilderness continues to push me and I continue to step up to the challenge. This is how “I” know wilderness works!