outdoor education

    Outdoor Education at Nature Center in Wilderness Therapy Programs

    Lessons in science textbooks come alive at Trails Carolina’s Nature Center that offers students unique projects and field studies to help them open their eyes to the environment. Traditional school settings often don’t have the time or resources to offer hands-on labs for students studying wildlife or resource conservation, so the concepts they talk about in class can sound abstract or even pointless. Despite access to infinite information online, many teens are sheltered from these real-life connections that drive the point across. Trails Carolina stands out from other wilderness therapy programs for their accredited academic program based on outdoor education and experiential learning. 

    The Benefit of Experiential Learning for Teens

    Adolescence is characterized by curiosity, development, and experimentation as they explore their identity and social relationships. They learn best from personal experience, rather than taking other people’s advice. They want to check things out for themselves, even if that means taking responsibility for the consequences. As personal growth is all about experiential learning, academic growth should be too. The power of experiential education is that it shows teens how to apply the skills they learn in the classroom to their personal lives and the world around them. 

    As teens’ brains are still developing at a rapid rate, communication between emotional areas of the brain and rational areas of the brain is weaker than it is in adults. Teens who struggle with ADHD, trauma, and other issues that affect executive functioning have a hard time processing negative emotions and difficult experiences using language. Experiential activities help teens stay engaged in the moment and internalize what they are learning. 

    As teens are removed from technology and the chaos of everyday life in wilderness therapy programs, they have more opportunities to focus on experiential learning opportunities.

    Opportunities at our Outdoor Education Program 

    Our staff have years of experience working in outdoor education and therapeutic settings and understand how emotional and behavioral issues affect learning. The classroom curriculum at Trails Carolina includes hands-on lessons from custom-designed citizen science field studies. By employing his collection of creatures such as reptiles, amphibians, insects, arachnids, and Opossums, our teachers work to inspire connections between these misunderstood animals and our often misunderstood students.

    We introduce the students to real wildlife and natural resource conservation projects that benefit the selected species and their habitats not just on the Trails Carolina campus, but everywhere. These connections often form lasting bonds between the students and the animals that will not only help with student’s therapy but also foster lasting respect, love, and possible future wildlife conservation.

    Importance of Accreditation

    While other wilderness therapy programs may teach psychoeducation and outdoor skills, Trails Carolina’s approach is unique. As a blend of base camp academics and field experiences, our academic program is accredited to ensure that students can earn credits that will transfer to their school so that they can stay on track academically. We understand that it can be a sacrifice for students to miss a chunk of school to focus on their personal growth and aim to help them explore their learning style and discover what motivates them in an academic environment. A lot of the students we work with have struggled academically, either with learning differences, stress management, problems with authority figures, or school refusals. We understand how mental health issues can affect academic performance and motivation and teach students the study skills and emotion regulation skills they need to thrive in and out of the classroom. 

    Trails Carolina Can Help

    Trails Carolina is a wilderness therapy program that helps teens ages 10-17 who are struggling with behavioral and emotional issues. This program uses adventure-based therapy to help students gain a new sense of self-awareness, confidence, and independence. The skills they learn throughout the wilderness program offer long-term benefits towards their ability to successfully self-navigate in the real world. By removing teens from their fast-paced environment into a safe, nurturing, and peaceful environment, they are able to focus on improving and reflecting upon their behavior. Trails Carolina gives students the tools they need to lead happy and healthy lives. We can help your family today!

    Contact us at 800-975-7303 to learn more about academic programming at Trails Carolina.

     

    AUTHOR

    Graham Shannonhouse

    A graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Graham Shannonhouse has been actively involved in the wilderness therapy field for nearly three decades. After receiving her degree in 1991, Shannonhouse spent 10 years working with a premiere wilderness-based therapeutic program in south-central Idaho. During her tenure, she served three years as a hands-on Field Instructor, three years as Field Supervisor, and the remaining time as Wilderness Program Director. During this period she developed, managed, and served as counselor for the country’s first wilderness program specifically focused on pre- teens ages 10 to 13 Graham returned to the east in 2002 to serve as Executive Director for a therapeutic wilderness program based in North Carolina, successfully growing it to one of the most respected companies in the industry. In 2008, she resigned her position to open Trails Carolina. Having an intimate working knowledge of the roots of wilderness therapy, Graham has brought her experience and wisdom to her position as Partner and Executive Director with the goal of integrating the true family work that must be done to insure lasting success.

    All stories by: Graham Shannonhouse