For many parents the thought of sending their child to a wilderness or wilderness style program seems daunting (if not terrifying). Will my child be safe? Is this component even effective? Do they really need to live outside? All of these are excellent questions asked by parents seeking hope and healing for their teen.
How is a Wilderness Component Different?
When you think of a wilderness program do you think of hiking? Or, long adventures in nature? At Shepherd’s Hill Academy (SHA), our wilderness component is just that – a component of our whole program. While students live in a safe and secure wilderness setting, they also go to school, enjoy meals, and go to chapel on the main campus of Shepherd’s Hill Academy. Main campus includes those modern conveniences of electricity, running water, technology in the classrooms, a cafeteria, etc.
At SHA, our Wilderness Program is unique because it offers a safe, holistic approach to healing. The wilderness setting provides an environment that is conducive not only to healing, but to true and lasting change.
A Letter from a Shepherd’s Hill Academy Alum
We recently received a letter from a graduate of our program. In this letter, the alum explains their experience with Shepherd’s Hill Academy, carefully describing their favorite experience: the wilderness component:
“My time at SHA has been life changing. I wouldn’t trade my time at SHA for anything. One of the things that makes SHA what it is, is the wilderness aspect of it. When I first came to SHA, I remember going down to what we call “our site” and seeing the cabins. It was really hard for me to picture myself staying for the next year.
Little did I know it was going to be the best year of my life.
Before coming to the program, I was living in a large city, so coming to sleep in the woods with nothing but a tarp over my head didn’t seem ideal. I realized later on that staying in those cabins, in the middle of nowhere was the safest I had felt in a long time. You’re surrounded with such good people who love and care for you.
Almost every night we have devotions and prayed. We have hard days, especially at the beginning, but it’s through those hard times that I was able to grow the most. We live in a simple environment. We only have what we really need, which was hard at first, but without that simple environment I wouldn’t have realized how blessed I really am.
Before coming to SHA I viewed a lot of Christians as crazy, boring, hypocritical and selfish. The authenticity of the people working at SHA really influenced me to give Christianity a second chance. What was so different about them was the way they handled situations, how selfless they are, how much fun they have, how much they care and love others, how they treat others and much more. I began to open my mind and heart so that when they presented the Gospel I was able to hear it.
They never shoved the Gospel down our throats, but they did present it to those who wanted to know more.
Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you. Matthew 7:7″