Caitlin Galt’s Visit to Point School in Puerto Rico
Since joining Point School in January, Caitlin Galt, LCPC has had opportunities to meet with the participants on the island and spend time with them doing their day-to-day activities. During each visit, she learns new things about the island, the culture, the mentors, and the young adults at the program. Though Caitlin meets with the staff and participants virtually every week, there is something powerful about being able to have experiences alongside them in the moment. One of the privileges of having worked in wilderness therapy for so many years was seeing the progress that can occur in such a short time when someone is working through nervousness and self-defeating thoughts. This was one of the things Caitlin loved the most about the power of adventure experiences and community.
On Caitlin’s most recent visit to Puerto Rico, she surfed with the young adults and Cathy, the surf and Spanish instructor. Caitlin won’t say that her experience catching waves was very successful; luckily, no pictures were taken. The part that WAS successful was supporting one of the guys while he floated out in the ocean on a surfboard for the first time. This young man had avoided entering the water since arriving at Point School. The mentors had been working with him throughout the weeks to slowly get him more comfortable with just being at the beach, near the water, then progressing to standing in the shallows of the water. The second time surfing with them during her visit, this participant went into the water for the first time with his board. Though he had a lot of fear and anxiety, he took that leap. As she watched from shore, he navigated onto the board and kept his face down while floating around. Caitlin swam out to distract and engage him in conversation to see if he could settle into just being comfortable on a board in calm parts of the water. They floated for an hour as Caitlin held onto the front of his board, chatting about cars, his family, and, eventually, the ocean. Since Caitlin left Puerto Rico, the mentors have continued working with this participant to help him succeed in the water. He went from continuing to float (belly down) on his board in the mellow waves, to starting to sit on his knees and balance. Fast forward a couple of weeks to now, and this participant shared with Caitlin in their meeting this week that he caught his first wave surfing, something he told many people he would never do.
“Being a part of these experiences, whether exploring a new language, community, environment or charting new waters, is why I keep returning to working with young adults in experiential settings,” said Caitlin, after returning from her visit.
About Point School Puerto Rico
Point School Puerto Rico is a hybrid gap year program in Isabela, Puerto Rico, integrating traditional gap year components such as cultural immersion, experiential learning, and volunteer experience with well-being support so young men can build self-identity through career, interest, and personal exploration based on individualized strengths.