Passages Alaska Wilderness Therapy Focuses on Gratitude
Learning about gratitude is a big piece of the curriculum at Passages Alaska. So many of the students that come to Alaska do not understand the concept of what it means to give back. They also don’t have the experience to see that learning to give back not only creates a positive sense of self but can give an intrinsic healthy feel good. Passages Alaska teaches and uses different techniques to teach the students to gain the value of giving.
There can be gratitude for the environment, to those we are close to, and to total strangers. All have different benefits and the curriculum at Passages Alaska teaches all these pieces. Alaska gives the water in which to paddle, the chance to live among the whales, to feed the group with salmon and crab, and all that they can experience. It is an easy lesson, and the students start their day with paddles raised and cheering “Thank You Alaska.” Chopping, stacking and filling bins of firewood for the Forest Service Cabins, not only an amount for what is used on a stay but filling it to pay it forward for whoever comes next. The same is done for the elders on the island who are in need.
Fishing is a big part of the program, but again it is a great metaphor for using what you need and passing on the rest. When there is a surplus, it is given to those on the island who need it. This summer there will be a group that will be dedicated to service, with all the aspects of the wilderness therapy program, but will have an emphasis on fishing, processing the catch, and then giving it to the elders and people in need on the island.
During the students’ stay they learn to start to appreciate what their family or whoever is sponsoring their time at PA has done for them. It is considered part of the work for the students to have gratitude for the experience of Passages Alaska and being in Alaska. This is done through their therapy, curriculum, Truth Circles and Marco Polo conversations with their family. They get to express all that they’ve gained with the different aspects of gratitude in person at their family session during graduation.
Passages Alaska is a unique wilderness program in Southeast Alaska serving adolescent males 14-17 and young adults aged 18-28 in gender specific groups. As participants come into the Alaskan Wilderness the coastal waters offer a fresh perspective and a new path. Hands-on therapeutic interventions including a full curriculum, paddling, whale watching, fishing, primitive skill building and service to others. Extensive therapy and coaching is built in for those with anxiety, depression, ADHD, school refusual and a failure to thrive.
Skookum House is an adventure high school with educational support designed to keep students engaged, active, and progressing toward graduation. Skookum House is for high school boys who have not been able to thrive at home or in a virtual school environment. Students may choose to use their home high school platform or another virtual platform. While living at SH, students will benefit from a more normalized social life, participate in outdoor Alaskan adventures while learning unique, confidence-building skills, and gain a respect for serving others.