Unlike boot camps for troubled teenagers, RedCliff Ascent focuses on healing rather than military discipline. David Cacamis, CSW, is one of the many therapists who help to make Wilderness Therapy a genuinely healing experience.
David decided that he wanted to work in wilderness therapy during his final year of undergraduate school when he took an Outdoor Recreation class. David has always been drawn to the outdoors and found nature to be healing. In Outdoor Recreation, David found a way to combine his passions of working outdoors and for helping others.
When David first came to RedCliff Ascent, he worked as a field staff member. He felt supported at RedCliff. He was able to advance to the position of Field Support Manager.
“There was constantly an opportunity to keep growing,” David said.
Eventually, David wanted to advance beyond his position. He completed a Master’s degree in Social Work at Radford University in Virginia. After earning his Master’s degree, returning to RedCliff Ascent felt almost like coming home.
Because of his experience working as a field staff, David is conscious of taking care of both the students and the field staff who are responsible for their care.
“Every opportunity that I have to jump into the mix outside of a clinical role, I take,” said David.
“Kids are fun and full of energy, but it is also very obvious that they are still developing. When a kid has a light bulb moment it is a very different experience than when an adult has a light bulb moment,” said David. “When kids have a realization, in so many ways, it can be life-changing for them. That is what drives me when I am working with the kids.”
David visits students in the field each week. Often, this involves a two-hour drive to and from the campsite and an overnight stay. David visits with some of his students the day of his arrival and continues seeing others the next morning. David finds his work meaningful.
“I help the kids navigate to their light switch because I want to see that lightbulb turn on. It is encouraging to know that I am able to play a role in that kid realizing something that he is going to be able to carry with him into adulthood which will help him to be a more independent and a better-functioning member of society,” said David.
RedCliff Ascent is grateful to David for his dedication in helping both staff members and students to develop and grow.