We arrived early at the conference space adjacent to the ever-flowing Deschutes River to set up for the first day of our Parent Workshop. Right away I noticed the tables and chairs had been arranged in straight rows from the front of the room to the back, modeling a standard classroom style. I took a deep breath and with a smile I enlisted help to immediately move the tables out of the way so that the chairs could be arranged in one large circle to accommodate the twenty parents and five Evoke participants.
Smoke billowing from a juniper root, a sage spindle spinning quickly, the smell of a coal forming on the fire board, in the middle of the desert, watching as an expert field staff made fire with sticks and her hands, I became mesmerized, fascinated and a little scared. “I am expected to do that?” I thought as I was sent off on my solo experience shortly after watching someone make fire within 10 seconds. I was left wondering if I was capable of this job, if it were possible for me to make fire like she did. Only one percent of the population can make fire using a bow drill, and they expect me to join that statistic. I was terrified. The journey of making fire was frustrating. I saw students who were better at it than I was, while staff who sat patiently next to me as I worked on my own fire set. Its 90% preparation, 10% skill, I heard over and over. The pressure was intense and I knew I had to “bust” 14 fires before I could move up a level as a field staff and no longer an intern. I wanted it more and more as I worked on my set and had bloody knuckles from the spindle whipping my hands as it flew off the fire board because I did not have enough down pressure, or my bow string was too loose. All the pieces needed to fit together to be successful. I had to look at all the moving parts, one piece was not more important than the other. They all needed to hold their own as they worked together.
I’ve worked in the wilderness and through experiential education for 8+ years and believe more passionately than ever in the simple, tangible, and connective benefits we take home from every wilderness experience. Having just worked a 20-day wilderness course, I feel a renewed sense of appreciation for these take-home skills and lessons. Here are five you can expect to experience and benefit from long after you leave the field:
I am breathing in, I am breathing out.
The embrace was tight and strong. Then I realized he was trembling. When I heard the sniffle I realized he was crying.
How Can Wilderness Therapy Help Teens On The Spectrum With Aspergers, Autism And Non-Verbal Learning Disability?
Individuals with characteristics associated with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) have it harder than the average person. Life is more difficult. The degree of difficulty varies, depending on the degree of Autism, but there are certain areas that are problematic. Gillberg (1991) identified the following areas:
I’ve been asked… repeatedly… to write more specifically about spirituality. It’s been a daunting request for me because spirituality is a nebulous and highly personal subject. It’s both transcendent and human, sublime and mundane. In the scientific literature regarding spirituality’s role (often muddled with religion) in mental health, a consensus on its help or hindrance is yet to be found. While religious guilt seems to have an adverse effect on mental health, feeling connected to something greater than ourselves seems to help mitigate stress and depression.1
This question often arises when a family is left to explain where their child is after they have been sent to therapy. Enrolling a child in treatment can temporarily leave a large hole in a family unit, and parents often struggle to explain this to the community, to extended family, or to the child’s school. And while many parents may not choose to or need to send their child to a residential treatment center, they may still experience feelings of loneliness and isolation because of dealing with a difficult child who is struggling with addiction, depression, anxiety, or any number of other common struggles.
Clients come to the wilderness wounded. Some wounds are obvious and come with overt behaviors that identify them as in need of repair. Some wounds one is not yet even aware of, having lived life a certain skillful way orchestrated to disguise and not feel pain. Often words don’t suffice in the healing of this sort of trauma and deep seeded hurt.
If you were to describe yourself at work as a force of nature, what would you be? A still mountain. A flowing steam. A tornado! How about at home or leisure? My wife says I am like a Fire at home - like a fireplace to give warmth and love, sometimes a firecracker to give fun and excitement, and sometimes an engine for the train.