Wilderness Therapy Programs for Troubled Teens
Others may call it “Outdoor Therapy,” but the science behind unplugging and experiential learning is undeniable. This is why so many Silicon Valley executives send their young kids to Waldorf schools that actually prohibit the use of digital technology. At Shepherd’s Hill Academy, we understand the importance of experiential learning and living. We also understand that digital technology is here to stay and that moderation is the real key.
When it comes to your teenager, whose day typically consists of engaging with music, computer screens and smartphones nearly around the clock, a season of digital fasting can do wonders to help restore his or her critical, constructive, and creative thinking capacities. These capacities can be greatly diminished due to digital abuse and addiction since the immature brain cannot balance out the processing of so much intense stimulation and information. A young brain needs periodic rest, so serious problems can and do arise from too much digital stimulation — often affecting attitudes and motivations. As with any other addiction, the brain tends to seek more and more stimulation, to the detriment of mature thought processes.
One great exercise our students undertake is to use their heads, hearts, minds, and souls as they take part and pride in growing gardens and building and maintaining their own living quarters in the woods. They are also treated with equine therapy, which helps teens interact better with others since everything they do around a horse tends to be mirrored back by that horse. Through caring for a horse, teens can readily see the effect of their own attitudes; as a result, they are taught how to control their mind, their reactions, and how they present themselves to others.
Shepherd’s Hill Academy is a hybrid between a boarding school and a therapeutic residential outdoor experience. This unique blend could easily be defined as an outdoor adventure experience or an extended camping trip. However defined, it is a place where troubled teens are insulated from negative peers and the constant bombardment of media long enough to acquire appetites for more healthy pursuits. The challenge of primitive living takes teens out of their comfort zones, curbs entitlement, and teaches them more effective coping skills. Faulty thinking patterns then begin to diminish as the brain’s critical, constructive, and creative thinking capacities begin to rebuild. This reconstruction is a welcome relief to the areas of the brain overloaded by today’s hustle-bustle and multitasking lifestyles.
It has rightly been said that the Shepherd’s Hill Academy outdoor experience brings teens back to their original factory settings!
Shepherd’s Hill Academy is an environment where people of all ages and backgrounds can be relied on for support, encouragement, and accountability seasoned with grace. Shepherd’s Hill Academy is a place where everyone strives to live their lives from the perspective of a solid moral compass in the spirit of unity. It is a place where truth and transparency are prized. As teens interact with one another and with authority figures and mentors within the community, they feel a sense of love and belonging that allows them to share their inner feelings without feeling threatened or judged.
If you are looking for your child to be in perpetual comfort, a wilderness-style program may not be for you. If you are thinking that maybe the media your teen is constantly plugging into is affecting his or her thinking and actions, then keep reading. Science, statistics, and hundreds of kids who have come through our program all give evidence for its effectiveness.
Below, are just a few of the many benefits of the Therapeutic Outdoor Program at Shepherd’s Hill Academy.
- Kids have a greater opportunity to acquire appetites for more wholesome endeavors and fun.
- Life’s deeper issues rise preeminent once a child is afforded margin in his life rather than endless pursuits of self-gratification. God, family, school, and their future are then given proper priority. It cultivates a teen’s ability to reflect and contemplate again.
- Rustic living diminishes the entitlement mentality and promotes the idea that responsibilities and obligations come before rights and privileges. This all occurs while attaching a reward to achievement and fostering a true sense of self-assessment through accomplishment.
- As troubled teens participate in the outdoor adventure their critical, constructive, and creative thinking capacities return, giving them a greater opportunity to think through the many faulty thinking patterns that have come between them, their families, and God.
- The challenge of primitive living takes teens out of their comfort zones and requires they learn new and more effective coping skills. Team building becomes essential which transfers into family harmony at home.