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New Perspectives - Jun, 2000 Issue #70 

Trinity Adventures
Redding, California
Ross Carter

Trinity Adventures provides 60-day wilderness programs for boys, ages 14 through 18, who are struggling in school but have the academic potential to succeed. Attributing poor academic performance and unacceptable behavior both to a refusal to take responsibility for one’s actions and to the negative influence of friends, Trinity Adventures removes students from those influences by placing them in a wilderness setting, and providing structure. Their comprehensive, integrated curriculum is designed to address each child’s physical, social, intellectual and emotional needs. Under the supervision of the staff, students examine habitual patterns of self-destructive thinking and behavior. Trinity Adventures’ philosophy is that “academic underachievers need positive role models to give their lives purpose and direction.” Recognizing that while some young men have powerful mentors such as teachers, clergy, or coaches, they feel other adolescents need a helping hand to supplement parents’ guidance. Trinity also believes that boys can achieve worthwhile goals once they build self-esteem and confidence. To bring this about, Trinity Adventures provides “caring, skilled educators” as role models, as well as “character-building challenges” for young men whose lives are beginning to “drift.”

Many of the trips in the Trinity Alps will be cross-country, off the common trails. Under staff supervision, students will take leadership roles to assess the group’s location and where they must go, based on topographical maps. During the 10-day trips, the average distance traveled each day will vary between five and seven miles. At the beginning of each trip, backpacks will weigh between 30 and 40 pounds and will get lighter as the trip progresses. Many overnight stops will be at alpine lakes. 

The six boys in each group will take five separate backpacking trips into the Trinity Alps Wilderness Area in Northern California. There they “learn by doing,” gaining wilderness recreation experience, outdoor living skills, physical safety and emergency response techniques, team work and trust building skills, and environmental ethics. At the same time, the boys work on academic components such as natural and physical sciences, reading, writing as a process of self-discovery, critical and creative thinking, literature, philosophy and psychology. This curriculum “stimulates the mind, conditions the body and provides guidance and opportunities for self-reflection” that leads to “emotional and spiritual growth.” Between trips, the boys stay in Trinity Adventure’s mountain lodge for two to three days to prepare for the next trip. There they can relax and get some rest before they begin their next “adventure.”

The Trinity Adventures staff believes that “when boys are given consistent examples of disciplined, considerate behavior, they will respond in kind.” The boys will be carefully supervised by “trained and experienced” outdoorsmen and educators who “understand the attitudes and behaviors” of adolescents who are not living up to their potential. Their goal is for students to “see their lives differently after two months of self-examination in the company of adults who understand and teach that actions and words have consequences.”

The boys will be accompanied by two wilderness instructors and an academic teacher; making the ratio of students to staff 2:1. The staff in both the Wilderness and Academic components of the program “teach by example” and through “active involvement, listening, demonstrating, questioning, guiding, encouraging, and celebrating success with the students. Instructors also have “wilderness first responder and water safety training, carry all necessary first aid equipment and a wireless radio/phone capable of reaching emergency services” if necessary. “The safety of the young men entrusted to our care is our foremost concern.”

Copyright © 2000, 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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