It’s understandable that any parent might worry about “kids that are worse than mine in the group” as a family embarks on a therapeutic journey in the wilderness—it is a common question. As parents, we worry about our children's daily influences in most realms of their lives. With taking the leap into wilderness, and this concept at a deeper level, it can feel as if enrollment itself could be facing us with a bigger question. Is my kid that “bad?” Are we really at this point?
Summer began this year and I had multiple things happen all within two weeks. The air conditioning in my home stopped working during one of the hottest months (think 115 degree weather) and it took almost a week to get fixed. My rent was raised by $150, and I hadn’t budgeted for it. I got Covid, after dodging it for almost two years. And last, but certainly not least, I was diagnosed with stage 2b Triple Negative Breast Cancer. So here I am at the age of 32, with an almost 3-year-old daughter, sweating to death, broke, and fighting sickness and cancer. To say I was angry is an understatement. The anger bubbled on the surface, leaking over into irritation, but never fully into an open emotion. It was so much at once that I went numb and didn’t quite know how I was supposed to feel.
The average length of stay for a student in our program is between nine to 12 weeks. Why is this the magic timespan?
Consider this: You are exactly at the place you are meant to be at this exact moment in time.
I think we, as a society, have somehow arrived at the doomed belief that parents are supposed to make their children happy. And if that’s the emotional goal of parenting, then that’s it. Done deal. Failure. Because life is hard. Painful. And every path out there will hold heartbreak and sadness. It is impossible to protect a human being from it. Ultimately, part of what makes us human is trying to make sense of our experience. Springing from this search comes art, literature, music, and a multitude of ways to connect to others. It’s the beauty and challenge of being human.
Each week we ask parents and their adolescent children to communicate by writing letters. Letter writing can be one of the most powerful tools you have to establish new ways of relating and communicating hopes and feelings. Letter writing can be seen as an opportunity to re-author your relationship with your child. It also provides a forum for you to assess and consider patterns your child engages in when communicating with you through letters.
I recently took a trip to the East Coast and Canada with our Co-Founder and Executive Clinical Director Dr. Brad Reedy. On this week-long journey, we met with numerous programs, professionals, and parents and Brad presented at least 16 hours of teaching. What struck me as I witnessed all of these encounters is how people wanted—needed—answers. How should I…? What do I do when…? What would you say…? How do I get them to…?
Those of us who work in this field recognize that it is never an easy choice to send your child away from home for any period of time. With this in mind, it makes sense that we often receive questions from parents surrounding what a child’s first few days at Evoke will entail. Here is an overview!
In the field, we do things every day to minimize our impact on the natural surroundings. These routines have both aesthetic and practical reasons: supporting the animals and plants we share our space with, other humans who will use the area after us, and ourselves. Minimal impact camping practices can be similar to the front country chores of cleaning a house.
When eventually your child’s time in the wilderness is at an end, many feelings will pop up for you. This could include, and of course is not limited to, feelings of relief (we did it!), pride (they did it!), a variety of concerns about next steps (did we pick the right one, will they engage, what if they stay upset?), as well as fears about them coming home or sadness that they are not able to at this time.