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Opinion & Essays - Oct, 1996 Issue #42 

An Intimate Guided Journey Into Self Discovery 
by: Doug Sabo, 
Adventure Based Counselor, 
Sandpoint, Idaho 

I would like to thank those of you who participated in the wilderness survey last winter (Woodbury Reports, Feb. 96, #38). The results are available on the world wide web at www.woodbury.com and are published in this edition. Some of the comments consistently reported were the need for follow up or transition work with children once they have completed a program.

I would like to share with you an experience I had with a teenager following his 26 day wilderness assessment program. It was a unique one on one experience. Last spring, a teenager from New Jersey and I began a 10 day back country ski trek into the rocky mountains of Montana. The days were filled with both silent and verbal reflection of his past 26 days and his home life. He was able to see how he entered a program “stuck” and chose to stay “stuck”. Like most teenagers, he had a difficult time focusing on himself in a group. It was more important to him to gain acceptance from his peers. He realized he had not taken a serious look at himself.

This young man needed more intervention. A one on one experience is what helped him see clearly his situation for the first time. I asked him to share with me some of his memories as a child. “Go back as far as you can remember,” I said. As he spoke, he discovered some things about his past that were limiting him. After a few days on the trail with no image to uphold and nothing to prove to his peers, this young man began to unfold some of his pain. There was no peer pressure: no mask to hide behind. He began to unveil an understanding of the effects of negative peer influences in his life. More importantly, he was able to make the connection between his thinking, his feelings and his behaviors, and how the choices he made affected him and his family.

The young man’s mother and father arrived after flying 3000 miles to attend a family session. They had not seen their son for over 40 days. This emotional reunion was a time of sharing new insights and a plan for a new direction. After the teenager enrolled in a transition program and the family readjusted, I received the following message in a letter from his parents. 

“Thank you for the gift of yourself, your support and your insight which you so readily shared with (our son).... My mind is still boggled when I think that you were a man who came into my son’s life for ten days, made a profound impression on his life, helped him to share his innermost thoughts.... Our son is doing well.... I will continue to think of you, of how you let our son come into your life, and how you helped him find his heart again.” 

This one on one intervention provided this teenager with an opportunity to take an intimate look at himself without the distractions and influences of peer pressure. This journey into self discovery helped empower this teenager to make healthy choices and to reconnect with his family. As a professional adventure based counselor, my services are offered to a variety of programs. I work directly with children and their families, providing interventions which foster healthy change. For more information about SOLTREKS or comments on this article, please contact me by either phone or e-mail. 

Copyright © 1996, Woodbury Reports, Inc. (This article may be reproduced without prior approval if the copyright notice and proper publication and author attribution accompanies the copy.)

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