San Juan Wilderness - Teen Therapy Program
Academics: “The wilderness is the best classroom in the world… and even better with Licensed Teachers.”
San Juan Wilderness is an accredited school by the Colorado Department of Education, so students can receive high school credit for enrollment in our program. We have licensed teachers working in the field, alongside our field counselors. This approach is a dramatic improvement over merely having non-licensed field-staff watch students “fill-in-the-blanks” in a workbook.
Numerous surveys of high-school students tell us that young people feel their education has no relevance to the real world. At San Juan Wilderness, the learning process is more interesting and meaningful when students explore their environment through experiential natural science studies with licensed teachers.
We know that many of our students have not excelled in a traditional school setting for a variety of reasons. Our progressive approach to education helps to address these challenges. Lessons involve not only reading and writing, but also activity, experiments and discussion. Our classroom usually consists of one teacher and one counselor with up to 9 students, ensuring individual time and attention for each student.
Our curriculum is experientially based and includes natural sciences, language arts, literature, math, affective groups and health & P.E. Any student that completes all of their assignments during a nine week program typically earns 1 credit in science, 1 credit in language arts/literature, 1 credit in P.E., and 1 elective credit for life skills. This may seem like a lot of credits in a short period of time, but each and every day consist of an ambitious and structured schedule that starts at 7am and ends at 9pm, essentially one 14 hour day after another for 6-9 weeks.
We know real learning is almost impossible when students are tired, cold or hungry. Yet students in typical wilderness programs are in a persistent state of survival. For this reason we divide our time between the backcountry and the primitive base-camp. After 2-3 weeks per month in the wilderness, our students relocate to the “relative comforts” of our primitive backcountry base-camp, including cabins, wall tents on wooden decks, with desks and wood stoves, hygiene facilities, etc. This time serves as a much deserved break from the rigors of trail life; the constant exposure to the elements and rigorous backpacking. We make valuable use of this “break” to pursue education and therapy in a slightly more hospitable setting. In addition, we launch our service learning projects and exciting adventure-skills courses from the base-camp.
Service Learning Projects and Work Experience – “Education in Action”
One important aspect of education is for a student to develop the ability to adapt to change.... then apply this skill to real world situations. The benefits of learning new skills, applying those skills and realizing one’s potential for accomplishment are best realized through hands-on experience. At San Juan Wilderness, students receive approximately 40 hours per month of project-based education. Service learning is best explained as the process of identifying an issue, developing a plan through academic research and problem solving, then implementing the plan as a group. Project partners include Habitat for Humanity, the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, the National Forest Service, the Colorado Division of Wildlife, and local food banks, homeless shelters and senior citizen groups.
San Juan Wilderness
Click here to E-mail us!