Adirondack Leadership Expeditions Introduces Quest Program for Boarding School Students

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Ten day wilderness program allows students to experience some of the benefits of wilderness therapy, have some fun, and avoid the potential dangers in their home environments during school breaks

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The program is designed to give a young person a taste of the wilderness experience so that they can return to their boarding school with a renewed sense of self, others, and the community.

Adirondack Leadership Expeditions, a character-development wilderness program for troubled teens, has introduced a new “Quest” alternative track targeted at traditional and therapeutic boarding school students. The new program was created to give boarding school students an alternative to going home where they often end up finding trouble. Quest students will spend time outdoors learning some of the unique interpersonal and self-development skills acquired during the full-term Adirondack Leadership Expeditions wilderness program, with some added fun.

“Adirondack Leadership Expeditions recognizes that students returning home during school breaks run the risk of relapse, reintroduction to negative peer groups, and regression to destructive behavioral patterns,” said Christine Riley, Clinical Director for the program. “And while it may be difficult to not be with family during the holidays, it is in response to requests we received from boarding schools, parents, Educational Consultants, and the students themselves that we are pleased to host a tailored ten day alternative in the form of the Quest program.”

Adirondack Leadership Expeditions will continue to operate its successful 6-8 week full-term wilderness program, and will just apply some of the most useful program components to the Quest program. Fun activities such as arts, crafts and photography will be offered during the new program, as well as a more flexible schedule for the teens.

“Quest is, of course, structured, but it is also more flexible in terms of the approach we use with the kids,” explained Riley. “We want to give teens a more enjoyable alternative to going home and rediscovering some of the negative behaviors they previously experienced. We’ve amped up the fun factor while at the same time still creating a meaningful outdoor experience for them.”

Students will experience this short-term program in three deliberate steps: preparation, journey and reflection. In the preparation phase, students create a “full-value contract” individually and with peers in which they create goals for themselves and identify their strengths and struggles prior to enrollment. Students address and learn how to express their individual needs within a positive peer culture, and are then mentored, supported and validated. They learn to become attuned to their own sense of strength and are given the space to articulate – and have empathy for – their struggles.

During the journey phase, students have the opportunity to demonstrate their learned wilderness skills, work on group initiatives and team-build. They are given leadership opportunities and earn Wilderness First Aid and CPR certification. In addition, they summit at least one high peak and participate in community service projects.

In the reflection phase, students are given opportunities to reflect on their personal goals through self-evaluation and participation in feedback sessions with peers and wilderness instructors.

“Quest isn’t designed to replace the invaluable experience of our full-term program – it isn’t realistic to expect the types of vast improvements that can be accomplished over the course of several weeks within this much smaller time frame – but the program is designed to give a young person a taste of the wilderness experience so that they can celebrate their newfound skills at the conclusion of Quest, and return to their boarding school with a renewed sense of self, others, and the community,” said Riley.

The first successful Quest program was conducted from November 18 through the 28. Adirondack Leadership Expeditions plans to conduct the next Quest program during winter break, from December 16 – January 2. For admissions information, contact Patrick McAvoy at pmcavoy(at)adkle(dot)com or (518) 524-6829.

Adirondack Leadership Expeditions specializes in helping teens ages 13-17 who are exhibiting oppositional defiant behavior as well as entitlement issues, manipulation, low self-esteem, substance use, failure in school or negative peer association. The program promotes personal growth through a focus on insight-oriented experiences. The program’s forested, mountainous setting removes urban distractions and simplifies options to help students gain insight into their core values and accept responsibility for their choices.

Adirondack Leadership Expeditions is a program of Aspen Education Group, the nation’s leading provider of therapeutic education programs for struggling or underachieving young people. Aspen’s services range from short-term intervention programs to residential treatment, and include a variety of therapeutic settings such as boarding schools, outdoor behavioral health programs and special needs summer camps, allowing professionals and families the opportunity to choose the best setting to meet a student’s unique academic and emotional needs. Aspen is a member of CRC Health Group, the nation’s largest chemical dependency and related behavioral health organization. Since 1995, CRC Health has been achieving successful outcomes for individuals and families.

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