Teens thrive in wilder­ness ther­apy

The Leader (Nelson) - - FRONT PAGE - SARA MEIJ

The nine stu­dents from the first Nel­son ad­ven­ture ther­apy course were chal­lenged with a va­ri­ety of weather dur­ing the 10 days in Kahu­rangi Na­tional Park.

Or­gan­iser Richard Wilkins said the course went ‘‘fan­tas­tic’’ and all the stu­dents had made ‘‘sig­nif­i­cant progress to­wards achiev­ing some good qual­ity out­comes’’.

‘‘There were def­i­nitely chal­lenges with the weather, we ex­pe­ri­enced snow, rain, the whole va­ri­ety and on the whole it was pretty cold.

‘‘But the stu­dents coped with that re­ally well.’’

Ad­ven­ture ther­apy - where coun­selling for trou­bled young peo­ple is cou­pled with out­door pur­suits like hik­ing, kayak­ing or horserid­ing - is pro­vided by youth trusts such as Ad­ven­ture De­vel­op­ment and St John of God Waipuna Trust in South­land and Can­ter­bury, and is now a course at Ara In­sti­tute of Can­ter­bury.

Wilkins said the ad­ven­ture ther­apy course he led through Whenua Iti Out­doors was the first in the re­gion and the only one of its for­mat na­tion­ally.

Nine stu­dents from sec­ondary schools in the Nel­son/Tas­man area were nom­i­nated by the schools to go on the trip and ex­pe­ri­ence a dig­i­tal detox with no phones al­lowed.

The group and guides camped in the out­doors in Kahu­rangi Na­tional Park in the Cobb Val­ley area.

Wilkins said one of the high­lights had been do­ing some mind­ful­ness ex­er­cises at Lake Sylvester.

‘‘It’s just a beau­ti­ful lo­ca­tion. ‘‘We’ve done quite a bit of yoga and mind­ful­ness prior to that but we gave the stu­dents an op­por­tu­nity to just sit and re­flect and to think about some of the things that were go­ing on for them.’’

The 10-day course in­cluded two ex­pe­di­tions; the first one was two nights out camp­ing and the sec- ond one was three nights out in the bush.

Wilkins said the course was set up around a base camp where all the cook­ing and lot of the ther­a­peu­tic work was done.

‘‘That proved re­ally suc­cess­ful as well.

‘‘For quite a few it was a new ex­pe­ri­ence to be in the great out­doors sleep­ing out un­der a ny­lon fly sheet.’’

Wilkins said it was a chance for the stu­dents to fo­cus and work through some of the things that were go­ing on in their life, with guided sup­port and help.

‘‘There’s some real power in just be­ing out in the wilder­ness, a beau­ti­ful en­vi­ron­ment, away from the pres­sures of mod­ern day life.’’

Wilkins said now that the course had fin­ished, they were do­ing some ses­sions with the stu­dents based on their needs, fol­lowed by a grad­u­a­tion to cel­e­brate the com­ple­tion of the course.

He said af­ter re­view­ing the first edi­tion of the course, they were plan­ning to do another one for new stu­dents.

Wilkins said that the course was in need of more fund­ing to make it more ac­ces­si­ble to par­tic­i­pants.


Nel­son’s first ad­ven­ture ther­apy course has just fin­ished, or­gan­ised by Richard Wilkins through Whenua Iti Out­doors.

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