Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Do one thing every day that scares you.” Fear, though unpleasant at times, is powerful.
When we are threatened, whether the threat is real or perceived, our body is ready to respond. The brain instructs the body to increase blood flow, escalate heart rate and calculate an exit strategy. Fear can take control of one’s life, especially for troubled youth with low self-esteem or who have trouble making friends.
Troubled youth and anxiety
Even for those without a diagnosable anxiety disorder, fear can keep a person from not getting the most out of life. It can keep teens from trying out for a sports team, making new friends or standing up to peer pressure. Especially in the midst of life changes, such as parental divorce or moving from middle to high school, a fear of the unknown can cause adolescents to act out or engage in high-risk behaviors.
Helping teens gain control
A wilderness camp for troubled youth uses healthy risk-taking to challenge teens emotionally, mentally and physically. When teens learn to embrace and overcome fears, they develop confidence and are able to take control of their lives. Every day during camp, teens are faced with both internal and external challenges from learning to communicate effectively with parents to completing a multi-day canoeing trip.
Being comfortable with uncomfortable
No matter if the obstacle is big or small, there is opportunity to either succeed or fail. The fear of failure is what keeps most individuals from even trying. Yet, the only time you are able to grow is when pushed out from what seems comfortable.
“And only when you’re out of your comfort zone does your deepest strength emerge to help you survive a trying time.” – Dr. Carmen Harra
A wilderness camp for troubled youth teaches students to take risks without a fear of failure.
Though they might fail the first time, continued perseverance and working toward a goal will help to ensure future success. Success or failure isn’t determined by what happened, but by what the teen learned from the experience.
Overcoming fears does not occur overnight. It would do more harm then good if we forced teens to face their fears without any direction or evolvement. Through group and individual therapy during wilderness camp for troubled youth, students slowly ease into overcoming fears. By first starting with small fears, such as introducing yourself to new peers, and progressing to larger fears, such as leading the canoeing trip, teens can see the progress they are making while not getting overwhelmed.