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Posted July 22, 2003 

Sonlight Shelter and Sonlight Wilderness Experience Program (SWEP)
Cody, Wyoming
Jim Stockberger, Executive Director, 307-587-3167

The Sonlight Wilderness Experience Program (SWEP), for youth 12 to 17 years old who are in a downward spiral, is part of the Sonlight Shelter and also is associated with the Foster Family Agency. In addition to the wilderness program, they operate two non-profit, residential group homes in Cody, Wyoming, working closely with the Wyoming Department of Family Services. Rob & Risee Poole, are the houseparent trainers and administration supervisors for the Sonlight Shelter, and also run the Sonlight Wilderness Experience Program (SWEP).

SWEP offers trips both for girls and for boys that are an appropriate “intervention when the regular process of accountability has not generated a significant change in the student’s attitude. Routine, structure, and group accountability are key elements of SWEP” with the burden of changing an attitude and lifestyle resting upon the student’s shoulders. “Initially the staff demonstrates the set up of camp and the routine. After the initial demonstration, the students are responsible for carrying on the tradition and routines.”

In addition to their various adventure activities, SWEP also offers a 5-day Family Week, where they take a child and their parent into the wilderness to help with family reunification. Their goal is to teach the family unit how to deal with each other by using courage, integrity, leadership, curiosity and concern, while helping the family learn basic skills, develop strong teamwork, and enjoy the beauty of the wilderness.

No experience is necessary for the white water rafting, canoeing and backpacking adventures, though each student needs to be in good health. SWEP provides all necessary equipment, that is “first rate,” and their safety equipment is also “top of the line.” All their staff has current training in First Aid and CPR, as well as canoeing and white water rafting experience. Applications for SWEP are processed by the Sonlight Shelter within two weeks.

Sonlight Shelter’s two non-profit, residential group homes offer a temporary home that gives a child the opportunity to live with adults and peers in a Christian family environment with caring and consistent discipline. At the shelter, the child experiences an individualized program, which fosters self-respect, personal responsibility, and self-discipline. They are dedicated to the preservation of the family, and seek to help and reunite families, while helping the children grow morally and emotionally, helping them to develop educational and social skills.

The children of Sonlight Shelter are of all races and creeds and are between 10 and 18 years old with problems ranging from physical, emotional, or sexual abuse to emotional disturbances, the absence of parent(s), dysfunctional family interaction, difficulties in school, and delinquency.

The Foster Family Agency became state certified in October 1994, seeking to nurture and support children who have experienced the pain of abuse or family dysfunction. They work closely with the Wyoming Department of Family Services and are dedicated to supporting and ministering to the child and the entire family, providing support, therapeutic intervention, and guidance as needed. They also involve their clients in therapeutic recreation activities such as camping, fishing, downhill skiing, cross country skiing, swimming, rafting, hiking, and scenic tours. Both their Boy’s Home and their Girl’s Home are state certified and cultivate a family atmosphere that is clean, wholesome and safe.

PO Box 1671 | Bonners Ferry, ID 83805 | 208-267-5550
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