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Posted: Mar 4, 2004, 12:59

New Perspectives


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Na’alehu, Hawaii
Mike McKinney, Program Director

Pacific Quest offers an experiential education program to its coed student population with the combination program model of a Therapeutic Wilderness Program and an Outdoor Leadership Program. Adolescents and young adults ages 15-20 attend the program for 3-12 weeks on the Big Island of Hawaii. The program unites recreation, academics, Hawaiian culture and a Rite of Passage component that creates an “exciting and fun atmosphere in which to develop self-confidence and a better sense of personal responsibility.”

The average student profile at Pacific Quest is “insightful, capable and intelligent, but they often lack the motivation or commitment to succeed.” The school teaches its students basic living skills that include menu planning, cooking, cleaning and gardening while living in a base camp setting. The program prepares students for the transition to residential or independent living.

Pacific Quest does not use intervention techniques or break its students down, instead the staff works with students to establish, practice and accomplish reasonable goals. These goals are reached by helping the students focus on themes and goals that are relevant and interesting to them, thus shifting control and responsibility back to the student and “creating an investment and commitment.”

Another component of the program is the Family Connection, which is designed to rebuild and strengthen these relationships through both formal and informal therapy sessions. One-week trips with up to six immediate family members are coordinated with the student’s success in the program. Pacific Quest believes “many parents prefer our softer approach to working with students and the de-emphasis of clinical diagnoses and traditional therapy sessions.”


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