The days are shorter, the temps colder, and snow has officially begun to stick to the ground here in Northern New England. We often get asked if our Adventure Therapy expeditions (or “expos”) continue year-round for our students in Summit Achievement? The answer? Yes! Of course! Winter yields some of the most beautiful and powerful experiences adventure and nature-based therapy have to offer. In order to make sure we’re providing our students with the utmost in terms of their program here at Summit, we prioritize safety while continuing to deliver on the consistency of our model. We also shift our activities when needed in order to accommodate the conditions outside!
First of all, what is Adventure Therapy? Summit Achievement utilizes outdoor adventure experiences, referred to as Adventure Therapy, four days a week and three nights a week to help young people build confidence and resiliency to address their mental health challenges. The field of Adventure Therapy evolved out of Outward Bound and the teachings of its founder, Kurt Hanh. Hanh, an educator, believed in encouraging young people to see their challenges as an opportunity to grow and change. Some of Kurt Hanh’s quotes include “your disability is your opportunity” and “we are all better than we know. If only we can be brought to realize this, we may never be prepared to settle for anything less”. Outward Bound started in 1941 in the United Kingdom and was specifically designed to help build resilience in young people so that they can better take care of themselves and others. Summit has followed in that tradition of experiential therapy and service to others.
Since Adventure Therapy is a key part of our model, (along with our accredited academics and clinical sophistication), and we want to continue consistently delivering the same standard of treatment year round to students enrolled in Achievement. In the winter, this means that we might need to shift some of our activities to allow for the conditions outside. One of the major things that this changes is the amount of ground we cover in the winter– while students will still get outside and experience the healing power of nature year round, in the winter months it’s just a fact that we move more slowly and tend to tackle less mileage per hike, for example. We also will utilize snowshoes for easier walking, as well as sleds to help pull equipment and supplies. Our students in Summit Traverse (our short term, therapeutic boarding school) will even occasionally go to a local ski area for some fun on the slopes!
Another factor that is especially important during the winter months is safety. Keeping our students safe is our responsibility and number one priority year round here at Summit, but especially in the winter! This means that we need to be vigilant about monitoring the forecast and planning Adventure Therapy expos that are appropriate and safe. For example, if there is a winter storm or extreme low temperatures predicted, then we will utilize our private, heated shelters to help our students stay warm and safe. This also means that we are serious about our gear– Summit issues all outdoor/adventure gear and clothing to our students so that we can guarantee their comfort and safety when out in the field during the winter months. This includes proper clothing, accessories such as hats and gloves, and specially designed sleeping bags to keep students safe. All of our field staff are trained in first aid and specifically to recognize signs of hypothermia and other temperature-related health and safety concerns. You can read more about winter safety at Summit Achievement here.
As always, please feel free to contact our Admissions Department with any of your questions or concerns regarding Summit Achievement in the wintertime, or any matters concerning admissions to our programs!