Adventure Through the Clinical Lens
The Forge School Outdoor experiential learning platform is a program uniquely created for our students to assist their development in three main areas: creating a positive shared experience to create joy, building self-efficacy, and encouraging students to and through their growth zone. Adventure Therapy does this through CASA and many activities within these 5 (?) therapeutic sequences.
Setting and Achieving Goals
Setting and Achieving Goals is designed to provide students the opportunity to challenge negative core beliefs as well as gain mastery and self-confidence. Students are trained through weekly functional fitness and excursions in and around the Forge campus, allowing for an ever-changing lens of learning. Ropes course activities, mountain biking and white-water rafting teach our students the importance of setting a goal that pushes them beyond their comfort zone into their growth zone. In doing so, our students gain experiential knowledge of their limits and are safely guided to push beyond them.
When this happens, they develop a stronger sense of self-worth and agency in their world which has proven to lead to more resilience and ability to persevere when met with challenges in daily life and in the therapeutic journey.
Trust is one of the more complicated concepts for our students as they struggle greatly with recognizing the value of this in relationships. Therapeutic metaphor is used throughout to tie individual actions and experiences as building trust or losing trust in relationships. Students are asked to engage in contemplation and introspection with how they experience building and losing trust within relationships in their lives through journaling and therapeutic groups as well as in adventure activities.
Safe communication is the foundation of any trusting relationship. In the communication sequence, students gain experiential mastery of communication skills in interpersonal relationships. The concept of “work hard, play hard” is inherent in this sequence. Healthy communication poses great difficulty to our students and can require hard work to do well. As such, students learn that communication can become a vehicle that allows opportunities to reap the benefits of hard work through deepened relationships and play. Vulnerability, honesty and an awareness of our own fears is essential for us to communicate well with others.
Teamwork creates experiential opportunities for students to explore how teamwork affects relationships. Students gain practical knowledge of the importance of working together as a team to effect mutual change. In order to help students increase their applicable understanding of the principles of teamwork, they need to be involved in and do activities that require teamwork constantly. One of the major focuses in the concept of living outside their comfort zone is courage over comfort. Students spend time working together and accomplishing the outdoor learning activities, they are learning how to build trust with themselves, become knowledgeable and confident with the safety equipment, and build trusting relationships with their peers. Through time and technique and as learned skills and teamwork begin to compound, we celebrate their hard work and acquired skills by providing opportunities to show mastery, leadership, and to follow the leadership of others.
Empathy / Service
Empathy for our students is often a difficult concept and skill to understand and master. We believe that empathy is an essential component of healthy, healing relationships and as such seek to foster this ability or emotional skill in our students. Many of our students resist empathizing with others, particularly those they’ve hurt for fear of the shame that may arise within. It is our goal to experientially teach Forge students that not only is empathy essential in healing broken relationships, but it is also an emotional skill that will serve them the rest of their lives. Themes of eco-psychology are also woven throughout this sequence to imbue our students with a sense of sustaining resources as well as an appreciation, or gratitude for what is often taken for granted.
Adventure Through the Action Lens
Next Level Training – for the Male Brain
At The Forge School, 1/3 of your son’s awake time will be spent experiencing fitness, adventure and experiential events. Boys respond to kinesthetic and tactile influences and they need adventure and mission to progress into manhood. These rights of passages happen as they find a proper tribe and hold each other accountable and as they progress, they develop and achieve higher cognition and health through performance and repetition which allows for setbacks and wins. Repetition creates growth, while acts of physical courage progress into moral courage. These events feed into and off the therapy and academics the boys will do during their time here and It’s a snowball down the right hill as we maintain a consistent schedule.
The geographic area of the Forge is perfect for the adventure modalities your sons will be doing. The boys will brief as a team using SMEAC – Situation, Mission, Execution, Administration and Communication, this structure allows for safety and accomplishment. At first, the boys will be in the security and control of our 55-acre compound, where they will develop core tasks before they are guided to the surrounding wilderness to test their skills.
Our adventure events will include White Water Rafting, Mountain Biking, Hiking, Rappelling and Wakeboarding. The boys will learn survival skills and first aid on overnight camping trips. We have access to glider rides in the area as well as a side-by-side off-road track. Future activities on the property will include a skatepark, BMX pump track and a STEM facility with simulators and drones.
The Big Mish
Missions are a combination of events, where they will practice each event under the supervision of our highly skilled staff. Once a quarter they will Plan, Execute and Debrief a mission while they also engage in equipment preparation and the responsibility of cleanup. We know young men are trained and the body remembers resiliency as does the brain. Our staff will properly engage with the students ensuring growth and safety.
As the boys show time and evidence of regulation, this confirmation leads to trust within themselves and the team. Joy is realized by being and becoming part of this successful tribe and freedom is then gained. With that, freedom will be reinforced as we chaperone the students to special events and team sports in the area such as NASCAR, NFL, NHL, MLB, NCAA live events, all within a short drive from The Forge School.