| From Strugglingteens.com|
After eating a delicious meal, I asked John to show me his projects. We entered the program's most recent building project, a small cabin with a beautifully built bunk bed and attractive windows that opened onto the woods and sky. I noticed John watching to see whether we tracked dirt into the cabin and learned that with the recent graduation of his roommate, the cleanliness of both cabin, the yurt and lounge were due to his good work. Next, John showed me the platforms he'd helped build to create a better outdoor woodworking area, and his first project, a small basketball court. He had also created a coat rack and a plaque that he welded - one of the new skills he recently learned. John commented on what a great experience it was for him to build something they wanted or needed.
The connection between how a person lives, what they need to feel healthy, and how to provide for it is very simple and direct in both of the Midnight Mountain programs. Both Self-Discovery 101 and the Pathways to Adulthood program are designed to build self-confidence and self-esteem. These programs provide experiences that are designed to make "deposits" in a "confidence bank" that helps fuel experiences in other settings.
The Pathways to Adulthood program can accommodate eight young men and women in small cabins at the base camp where they learn to live a simple and responsible lifestyle. The residents earn their privileges based on a level system of growth that is designed to help them "become accountable, empowered and whole people." As residents move through the levels, they eventually gain privileges including having access to their own computer and music. The program includes an academic component, community service work, job training apprenticeships, as well as daily personal and group chores.
The Adventure Semester and Pathways to Adulthood take place outdoors. The Pathways to Adulthood residents participate in occasional recreational activities such as snowboarding, canoeing and rock climbing. However, these activities and the many seasonal excursions are the primary focus of the Adventure Semester. Randy and Kim Krohn operate both the five-month residential program and the six-week Adventure Semester with help from their very qualified son, Josh Swain and his wife, Tanis Shippy, who live onsite with their small child. Randy is a mental health professional with 20 years experience in traditional settings and 15 years in outdoor experiential settings. Kim has 23 years experience in community development, youth mentoring and experiential education. Josh has over 12 years of experience facilitating and guiding students and adults in a variety of outdoor experiential activities. Tanis is a certified teacher who draws on her experience in traditional classrooms and group facilitation to help residents prepare for high school completion or college credit through the accredited Blueprint correspondence program.
Midnight Mountain is truly a family style training center that enables residents to experience the outdoors in a more hospitable way. This approach fosters student empowerment as well as an appreciation and enjoyment of the wilderness. For example, students are responsible for getting their own equipment together and planning for the expeditions. The staff assists in this process by treating residents with unconditional positive regard and encouraging them in the development of responsibility. Through this climate of safety, students explore who they are and learn to live together in community that is consistent with the values of honesty, integrity, responsibility, accountability and holistic health. Obviously, potential residents must willingly participate in this kind of personal work and willingly maintain a safe environment for both themselves and others. If a resident truly engages in what is available to them at Midnight Mountain, I believe they will not only graduate, but also become role models for those who follow in their footsteps.
© Copyright 2012 by Woodbury Reports, Inc.