Teens thrive in wilderness therapy
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.