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Transition Pursuits: Reconnection Before the Next Step

Posted by Kirk Sweet on July 07, 2021

9CF17627 7937 4A7E ADB4 A7688F7B342EWith a grin from ear to ear, Andrew* reaches the top of a beautiful limestone cliff on a warm autumn evening in Southern Utah. Scraped hands and knees are the temporary trophies of his triumph, although he won’t notice until dinner later that night. The sounds of his Mom and Dad cheering him on from below and the rush of adrenalin are the only things on his mind. Andrew has officially completed his first outdoor rock climb. This experience of overcoming a challenge together as a whole family is commonplace at an Evoke Transition Pursuit.

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Evoke’s customized Transition Pursuits are an opportunity for individual families to have a unique outdoor experience with their child who has graduated from any wilderness therapy program and is about to start a new chapter by moving on to new program or going home. Whether it is rock climbing, backpacking, or going on a day hike, the space created on a Transition Pursuit is an important breath between chapters for the entire family system.

This program is an opportunity for parents to reconnect with their child and to create a deeper understanding of all the different experiences that their child has gone through during their time in wilderness. Often a pleasant surprise to parents is gaining a deeper understanding about their child’s growth in wilderness as well as recognizing the new ways their child can choose to communicate with them. Powerful communication tools are taught and shared among each family during these adventures. As an example, our trained guides often prompt conversations that lead families through the big emotions associated with transition and mentor individuals as they offer honest feedback between one another.


“Hard skills,” or the hands-on technical skills of living in the wilderness, are also often shared between child and family during these Pursuits.

Smoke begins billowing from the fire board as the spindle turns back and forth. “Just a couple more spins!” Kim* says to her Dad. This time Kim is the coach, teaching her Dad how to create a flame using the sage and juniper found in this area. Kim has mastered the skill of creating a flame during her wilderness experience. Together with her Dad, and a couple more practice attempts, these two create the beginnings of our group's campfire for the evening.

Students are often very excited to introduce their parents to the hard skills that they’ve learned in the wilderness. I’ve seen several students coach their parents on how to create a flame using the natural woods found within the environment. (This process is known as “busting.”) Recent graduates of wilderness are often eager to show their parents their expertise in tasks such as setting up a sleeping shelter or leading a beautiful day hike. Introducing the daily life of what has become THEIR wilderness can be powerful for both the parent and child.

While typically hosted in a natural environment, the itineraries of Evoke’s Transition Pursuits can be tailored to the type of adventure that the family is comfortable in experiencing. Activities can range from backpacking in the wilderness, to going on day excursions to mountain bike or rock climb, or partaking in metropolitan food tours. Accommodations also vary from staying overnight at an established campground, to rustic cabins, or sleeping in comfortable beds in a single residence home. Regardless of adventure or accommodation, each trip has one thing in common and that is the presence of our Pursuit Guides. These folks have years of experience as outdoor guides and are trained to provide therapeutic mentorship to the whole family.

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This once-in-a-lifetime adventure provides the opportunity for parents to reconnect with their child, to be witness to powerful new growth, and to create space to talk about goals and life moving forward. A Transition Pursuit trip is the perfect opportunity to overcome challenges together as a family, and to create lasting memories.

*For confidentially I’ve changed the names of the participants in this blog.


Love this Kirk! I especially appreciate how you wrote about the excitement and eagerness that students have when showing their parents skills they've learned. The opportunity to teach their parents and share "their wilderness" as you stated is powerful. Beautiful blog!

Posted by Emma Reedy

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