It was a perfect spring evening as we sat around the glowing campfire. We welcomed the occasional wisps of cold, memories of winter’s frozen march, as the days grew longer under the sun’s gaze. It would not be long before the stubborn sunburnt evenings reminded us to be more grateful for a night like tonight.
Viewing entries posted in 2016
A cairn is a pile of stones or rocks, often used as a trail marker, landmark, or memorial. We use cairns in the field to mark where the group is so we can find it when we go to the field. Wilderness participants also look forward to cairns, as they mark where camp is and represent the end of a hike. On a solo, the cairn represents where staff will come to deliver water, food, or other needs while the young man or woman is reflecting and considering things. Over the course of a stay in Wilderness Therapy, the young person will see and build many cairns which represent a variety of things: starting and ending points, art in general, part of a sculpture of some kind, something done in group while they listen to others, and steps along the journey of their experience. In many ways, research in outdoor behavioral healthcare is like cairns, marking the way, representing steps as we investigate and evaluate this innovative therapeutic intervention.
Many of the young people we work with identify the solo experience as one of the more significant interventions during their time in the wilderness. This opportunity often creates some apprehension for the young person as they anticipate the challenge and consider how they will handle this alone time without people or things as distractions. The wilderness represents a break from a person’s lifestyle, and the solo is an additional step away from the daily group therapeutic process to focus further on one’s self. During their time away from group they have the opportunity to sit with themselves in nature, to consider their sense of self in relation to the natural world, consider further their relationships with family and other loved ones, at times do some reading and writing and engage in some meditation and reflection. We find that this experience tends to facilitate growth and development in the treatment and personal awareness with the young adults and adolescents in the program.