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Posted: Jan 3, 2018 14:18

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Summit Achievement
Stow, ME

Why To Consider
Wilderness Therapy In Winter

Shannon Higgins Palentchar
Admissions Director

Camping in this? Are you crazy?

Okay, we get it, the weather forecast has been kind of scary lately with all of the frigid temperatures. That only complicates the choice to refer your clients, or your child, to a wilderness therapy program. Yet there are tremendous benefits and opportunities that a student can gain from these experiences, and it's important to try to look past the fear that can be associated with cold weather. Here at Summit Achievement we fully understand your concern. We have been operating continuously in New England for over 21 years and have honed the skills necessary to manage this climate safely. In fact, backpacking and camping in a program are actually very safe activities with minimal risk to injury. If you are interested in seeing a comparison to other common sports, and looking at available research on this topic, please click here.

To make the experience one in which a young person will be challenged but ultimately find success, we take several steps to address the winter elements. First, we are the original hybrid wilderness therapy program with a mountaineering style emphasis. Clients spend 3 nights each week in the wilderness, and 4 nights on our beautiful campus, attending classes in our school, living in heated log cabins equipped with bathrooms and showers, participating in individual and family therapy while eating meals prepared by our professional chef.

We train our staff to make safe, conservative judgments when it comes to managing the winter environment. Our youth are outfitted in the most up-to-date wilderness equipment designed specifically for the conditions your child will find themselves in. Our staff will teach students the best way to use their gear (suppliers include Marmot and Outdoor Research) to stay safe and comfortable in the woods. Along with this equipment, we plan our outings on a weekly basis allowing us to get accurate weather forecasts for the coming trip and plan the itinerary accordingly. One aspect of winter camping we actively manage is frostbite. We do this safely through a handful of redundant systems like proper education on how to prevent it, using equipment designed for the environment, making hot chocolate or tea, and staff checking each student's fingers and toes several times a day to make sure that their extremities are warm and dry. When the weather is at its worst, we have three wood-stove heated shelters strategically placed around our main campus in Stow, Maine. The shelters provide protection from the elements and the wood-burning stoves help everyone keep warm and dry.

The woods during the winter months are often some of the most beautiful and serene settings you can find. Just being out in the wilderness at this time of year feels like a significant accomplishment and precipitates gains in self-confidence and helps put other risks and challenges into perspective, helping to mitigate low self-esteem, depression and anxiety.

As we enter our 22nd winter, we are ready to provide a safe, impactful wilderness experience for your client like we have for so many others.

About Summit Achievement:
Summit Achievement is a 6-10 week therapeutic wilderness program, uniquely offering an adventure-based expedition model with a residential campus where students attend school three days per week.

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