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News & Views - Aug, 1997 Issue #47

At DeSisto School

by: A. Michael DeSisto, Ex. Dir.
Stockbridge, Massachusetts

Wilderness programs have become a popular and effective approach to “jump-starting” kids in the emotional growth process. A number of programs have sprung up across the country and are flourishing. They represent a variety of approaches, from the “hard-core” survival approach to “softer” hiking and camping programs. What all of the programs have in common is the ability to provoke anxiety in young people by presenting them with personal challenge. 

Anxiety occurs as a result of a child’s connected to his situation and the challenge which lies therein. His connectedness does not allow him to remove himself or otherwise escape from the situation, and he is forced to acknowledge and deal with the surfacing anxiety the inherent challenge presents. The dual challenge of participating in formidable activities and dealing with and surmounting the surfacing anxiety assists each child in developing self-esteem and self- reliance. 

The DeSisto School offers students a wide range of summer “wilderness” programs. Each program is designed to provide young people with the opportunity to meet with personal challenge, experience emotional growth and discover self- reliance and growing internal awareness. 

DeSisto offers the familiar backpacking and camping typical of many wilderness programs, as well as many other programs which open the door to a variety of other challenges. Students may be backpacking, hiking and white water-rafting in Canada or biking cross-country from California to Massachusetts. They may be experiencing the eye-opening “wilderness” to be found in the culture of a foreign country, whether traveling the backroads of China and Tibet or investigating Mayan ruins in Mexico. The Florida Keys program challenges students with exploration of an underseas wilderness seen through a scuba mask. 

A compliment to the School’s highly structured therapeutic/academic program, each seven-week summer program involves five to ten students supervised by the School’s professional staff. In many cases, academic credit is available for participation. 

Copyright © 1997, Woodbury Reports, Inc. (This article may be reproduced without prior approval if the copyright notice and proper publication and author attribution accompanies the copy.)

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