The Heartland program is built around providing the troubled teenage boys with a program of adventure and physical activities, indoors and outdoors. Outdoors, we go camping, backpacking, rappelling, canoeing, swimming, hiking, hunting, and spelunking (cave exploration). We find that boys are more open to talking while enjoying the adventure, so we use those times to instill positive thinking and develop better communication skills to improve their ability to work cooperatively with others.
Boys also take part in many trips during their stay here. We go to concerts and conferences, visit theme parks, and museums.
Although much of what we do happens outside, due to weather there are times we stay inside as well. However, inside does not mean that the program stops. It is not what we do that matters, it is that our staff and mentors take the time to do things with the boys that let them know they are important to us and that we care about them. We seek every possible way to build relationships with our students. Along the way, we build trust and earn the right to speak truth into their lives, inviting them to change and become the best versions of themselves.
Why Adventure Therapy?
At an adventure therapy program, students get the opportunity to engage in various new activities and experiences during their stay. Adventure therapy activities at Heartland are where boys learn to listen, keep themselves safe, learn emotional regulation skills, and push themselves to overcome challenging tasks. The challenges students face through our adventure programming are designed to forge an identity, build character, and improve self-esteem. Students do not just participate in the activity; they learn how to do it themselves. This is called experiential learning.
Our staff have been trained to facilitate adventure themselves. The same guides that live with students all week, building rapport and making connections, are then able to instruct students during their adventure activities.
In our adventure therapy program, we see several benefits:
- Identity development
- Trauma resilience
- Learning to self-advocate for needs
- A decrease in symptoms of anxiety and depression
- Increased self-efficacy
- Improved executive functioning
- Improved interpersonal skills
We focus on helping boys and their families through difficulties that occur when various emotional, behavioral, cognitive, or developmental issues are present. Research shows that engaging adolescents on a personal level with strategic and intentional adventure activities will aid in developing the tools and skills necessary to engage life in a healthy and positive way.