San Juan Wilderness -
Program Outline and
The San Juan Wilderness Program has six key elements.
I. Therapeutic Wilderness Expeditions - Personal Growth through
Perseverance. Students spend 2-3 weeks
per month backpacking in the pristine mountain wilderness of
the San Juan Mountains, participate in daily therapy and academic sessions,
and complete service-learning trail projects for the National Forest.
In addition, our highly structured schedule and level system are key
aspects of student life.
II. Base-Camp Life - Lessons in Responsibility and Cooperation.
Students spend 1-2 weeks per month living
at the base-camp, without any modern conveniences like electricity or
running water. They prepare all their own meals (a low-fat, sugar- and
caffeine-free diet), chop and split wood for heat and cooking, and do
their laundry with a washboard. Therapy and academic sessions continue,
along with additional project-based education.
III. Service Learning Projects – Learning in Action.
Student receive 40 hours per month of project-based
service-learning. The benefits of learning new skills, applying those
skills and realizing one’s potential for accomplishment are best
realized through hands-on experience. 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.
IV. Academics – Creating Independent Learners
and Thinkers. Our curriculum of experiential natural science
lessons and labs were developed and are taught in the field by our licensed
science teacher as well as seasoned field staff. In addition, students
complete daily assignments in literature and language arts which are
meant to add meaning to the student’s experience. Because San
Juan is an accredited school by the state of Colorado, students may
receive approximately 1 high school credit per month of enrollment.
V. Adventure Education - Real Challenges offer Real
Self-Esteem. Our students spend 5-6 days per month learning
adventure-based skills. They receive ample training to safely participate
in activities such as peak ascents, rock climbing, kayaking and rafting,
mountain biking, horseback riding and cross country skiing. Our students
naturally respond well to healthy risk-taking.
VI. Individual and Family Therapy – for Lasting
Our therapists meet twice weekly with students for both individual and
group therapy sessions, and weekly with parents. In addition, both parent
and child address issues through guided written correspondence concerning
issues and feelings associated with accountability, forgiveness, gratitude,
parental expectations for the future, etc. Please visit our “Therapy
and Treatment” page on this website for comprehensive information.
Family Weekends occur monthly and include
initiatives, cook-outs, and family therapy sessions. These events have
proven to be very effective at rebuilding relationships and are enjoyable
Graduation Ceremonies help students bring
closure to this unforgettable life-changing experience with meaningful
ceremonies that truly honor their accomplishments. Ceremonies include
an “Eagle Solo” and a Native American Lakota Sweat Lodge
Ceremony. Moreover, parents are invited to participate in students receiving
their graduation certificates and pictures of their experience.
Backcountry Itinerary (first two weeks of each month):
Day 1-2: Clinical assessment and orientation
(issue gear, safety/guidelines lecture)
Day 3-6: Backpacking/trail projects,
academics, evening counseling groups
Day 7: Solo (students spend 24
hour period alone with regular staff check-ins)
Day 8-9: Individual and group therapy
and academic lessons (physical rest days)
Day 11-14: Backpacking, trail projects,
academic sessions, evening counseling groups
Day 15: Solo (students spend 24
hour period alone with regular staff check-ins)
Base-camp Itinerary, (second two weeks of each month):
Day 16-17: Individual and group therapy,
academics/projects, hygiene and laundry
Day 18-19: Service learning projects
and academic lessons
Day 20-21: Adventure education:
rock climbing, kayaking/rafting, mtn. biking, etc.
Day 22: Solo (students spend 24 hour period
alone with regular staff check-ins)
Day 23-24: Individual and group
therapy, academic/projects, hygiene and laundry
Day 25-26: Service learning projects and
Day 27-28: Adventure education rock climbing,
kayaking/rafting, mtn. biking, etc.
Day 29: Family day and Graduation Ceremonies
Day 30: Travel home
Compare to a typical wilderness program schedule:
Day 1: Orientation and Assessment
Day 2-Finish: Backpacking in Desert (in circles or back and forth) Daily
Groups, Weekly Therapy, Solos and Graduation.
San Juan Wilderness
Teen Therapy Program
Experiential by Nature