First Adventure Therapy Trip at Evoke at Cascades in Bend, Oregon
Dr. J Huffine’s adolescent boys group at Second Nature Cascades just completed their first new adventure Therapy Trip.
We have added adventure components to our programming at Cascades Wilderness Program, and we just completed our first outing. The boys left our field area early in the day. We rendezvoused at a cave not far away. James Jaggard, the general manager for Wanderlust Tours, was our guide. He was fantastic and very knowledgeable. The guys were quite interested in the facts he shared about the volcanic activity that formed the cave. The natural history of the area was also fascinating. As you might imagine, the real excitement was about entering the cave!
The feelings vary from person to person, but there is something very special about it. It is a bit scary, but at the same time so very peaceful. There were times we turned our lamps off and just sat and experienced the total darkness and quiet.
We came across a number of bats. This guy (see photo)
was just over our heads as we went through a smaller section. Bats would never bother people, and with their echo-location capabilities, would never fly into someone. Nonetheless, people are kind of scared by them, and they added a nice element of intrigue.
At several points in the cave, there were places where it narrowed down to a crawl space. We operate on the “Challenge by Choice” principle, i.e., participants are encouraged to push themselves past their comfort zones, rather than being told they have to do something, with the belief that this results in emotional growth, improved skills, and more confidence.
Everyone on this trip chose to keep going.
It was a good opportunity for us to reinforce the difference between our thoughts and our beliefs. Although no one said it, initially, it was hard not to at least have the thought “what if this thing caves in”? Eventually, the subject came up.
This thought, of course, produced a lot of anxiety. Through some processing, we all concluded that it was highly unlikely (we were told it had been thousands of years since the last one). Thus, no one believed it would happen. Beliefs can be a choice if you work at it. Thoughts come into our awareness and are not necessarily volitional.
We work with our clients on this everyday. Examining the relationships between our experiences, our thoughts/beliefs, the resulting feelings, and how we deal with these feelings. After everyone had a chance to process this, we moved deeper into the cave, and ourselves.
The end results were fantastic. Everyone chose to keep going until we made it to the end. It was very rewarding. We learned about a very unique ecosystem. We had a lot of fun and excitement. We also learned something about ourselves.
As with all adventure activities, it was important to process afterwards. To integrate this experience into the overall experience at Second Nature. Wilderness therapy provides experiential ways of learning and developing insight, resilience, and self-confidence.
Thanks for reading. Stay tuned…
Dr. Huffine has been working in wilderness therapy for 16 years. He works with an adolescent boys group at Second Nature Cascades based in Bend, Oregon. For more information about J’s Adventure Therapy Group, please click here.