High Adventure at Oxbow Academy - Finding Connection Naturally
If your son is battling compulsive sexual behaviors and excessive porn use, you and he may both feel lost. That relationship and closeness that was once there may now seem like a barren desert, with frightening uncertainties where this may lead in the future if left unchecked.
There is hope. Families just like yours have found it. Young men with the same concerns, often appearing like addictions, are building better lives for themselves. Many of them have discovered this inner courage in an unlikely place–in the Utah desert. On therapeutically guided adventures, dozens of young men from Oxbow Academy (OA) find the strength they need to overcome these addiction like struggles.
Healing Through Adventure
The High Adventure program is directed by a wilderness expert who is also a master’s certified therapist. The High Adventure team makes certain that the wilderness adventures are safe physically and therapeutically. When working with teens, safety is their number one priority. While keeping kids safe, the team also pushes their limits. Kids learn that they can do hard things.
Nature has a way of suppressing physical and emotional distractions and allowing sometimes painful insight and emotion to surface. Then, often in the same experience, rebuilding the student from the ground up in the best way possible. The High Adventure team coordinates directly with the young men’s therapists to design adventures that focus on the teens’ specific therapeutic needs.
For example, if students need to work on trust, then they will be given an activity where they belay each other. If they need to work on self-esteem, the students participate in an experience that pushes them but gives them opportunities for success. If they need to work on honesty, the High Adventure team customizes an activity that creates accountability. Whatever students are working on therapeutically, the High Adventure team creates an activity that illustrates that in real life in real time, providing an experiential therapeutic experience. This allows for deeper insight and more applicable learning for each student.
Other natural therapeutic lessons include:
- Adventure reflects student’s current areas of mental and emotional struggle,
- Adventure does not care about students excuses,
- Adventure challenges student’s fears,
- Adventure is a venue to practice therapeutic coping skills,
- Adventure teaches mindfulness and flow,
- Adventure builds self and group efficacy, and
- Adventure fosters connection with self, others, and nature.
Making Safety Priority
The High Adventure team works with the boys week after week, gradually introducing new skills, such as rock climbing, repelling, endurance hiking, and wilderness survival. When the boys demonstrate knowledge of these skills, then they take part in a mastery experience that incorporates all of the skills they have learned.
Students learn that nothing bad is going to happen if they mess up because the High Adventure team is there to provide support and backup. However, it is still a bonding experience. The higher the adventure, the higher emotion. When people experience high emotion, that creates high bonding. The High Adventure experience also helps students with processing. They feel that they are more vulnerable out in the wild. When people let themselves be vulnerable, therapy becomes a lot more impactful.
Learning from the Challenge
The High Adventure program helps kids to develop grit. It is natural for people to avoid pain. Everyone does it. We avoid anything that is hard or difficult. It is the path of least resistance. But hard, difficult things provide people with the most opportunity for growth.
When these troubled teens find that they have the grit and determination to climb a mountain, that experience teaches them that they also have the strength to confront addiction, depression, and other unhealthy behaviors that brought them to OA. The confidence that they gain through therapeutically guided wilderness experiences gives these young men confidence that they take with them through the rest of their treatment experience. The lessons they learn during these experiences remain a part of them long after they have returned home. This is the benefit of having experiential therapy such as the High Adventure Program at Oxbow Academy.