Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Adventure Learning Report - High Uintas Backpacking Trip

For the past few years Logan River Academy Adventure Learning has done a backpacking trip into the High Uintas Wilderness Area each August. August is the prime time to visit this mountain range in Northeastern Utah, the only true major mountain range that runs east to west in the US. Many of the trailheads that we use to access our destinations begin at an elevation around, and often above, 10,000’ in elevation. Dozens of the high peaks throughout the range are above 12’000’, with the highest point in Utah, Kings Peak, topping out at 13,528’. With such high elevations commonplace in the Uintas, a majority of the months in a calendar year are prone to adverse weather conditions that could compromise the enjoyment of a trip. Too early in the year and snow will be found in the shady areas on high passes and trails, too late in the year and you run the risk of waking up to the first snow of the year. Also, bugs. From the time the snow begins rapidly melting, to the first-ish part of August, you are going to be eating mosquitoes every other bite with your dinner. Hence, mid to late August is a great time for the Uintas.

Hiking in to our campsite

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Has Life Been Unfair to You?

As a therapist I am frequently confronted with challenging scenarios in peoples’ lives that give me pause.  This past week I had a situation that not only caught me off guard, but taught me something profoundly important that I hope to remember throughout my life as well as during my work with the families I see at Logan River Academy. 

I met with an individual who recounted his life story and as he went through his experience it was apparent that this gentleman had gone through more than his fair share of traumatizing experiences.  It was also clear that many of these experiences appeared to be no fault of his own, rather cruel blows that simply befell him because he was a bit unluckier than someone else.  The story went on and on and I began to feel more and more sorry for this individual who had gone through more than I could fathom.  As he came to the end of his story, I quickly began empathizing and at one point even mentioned, “It seems like life has been a bit unfair at times to you.”  At this point the gentlemen stopped me.  He told me that indeed, many of the issues he felt were not because of choices he had made, but were rather experiences he had to go through to become the man he was.  I was taken back by his response and even felt the need to further emphasize my view that he was somehow unfairly treated.  He however again assured me that while the challenges he faced throughout his life did cause difficulties for him emotionally, he would not trade those experiences because they taught him lessons he couldn’t learn any other way.

As I pondered this, I realized that far too often in our world today we feel the need to have things fair, comfortable, and always “happy.”  However, the two poems below that I often quote, but clearly didn’t understand, came to mind and helped teach me a lesson that I needed to learn.  That challenges are not only a natural part of life, but a necessary one as well.  

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Connecting with Your Active Child

Being a reader of this blog, you may not be inclined to label your child an “active child.” You are probably more likely to call them a challenge, a pain in the neck, a frustration, and possibly much worse. There is a chance you have been in such a painful, emotionally-draining time of your life that you have overlooked, forgotten or you just don’t care anymore about the skills, talents and ambitions that your child does posses. Now, I am not here, or qualified, to break down the entire complex skill set of your child and give you advice on how to appreciate, foster and enhance it. But, I would like to give you some advice on a part of your child’s life that you may not be familiar with, or if you are, some advice on how to become a part of that life even if you don’t want to be.

While your child has been away in treatment, perhaps having been through a wilderness program as well as a residential program, they have likely been introduced to many new activities and environments they didn’t even know existed. Most programs have some form of recreation program focusing on new skills and experiences that provide the child with several self-improvement opportunities. While not every child enjoys every opportunity given, I have seen the vast majority of them find excitement and enjoyment in some form of recreation we have presented to them. Your child returning home to your care is a stressful time to reconnect, build back trust, establish new roles and find ways to build a positive relationship. Capitalizing on new interests and hobbies your child may have gained in their time at treatment is a great way to help both parties find common ground for the rebuilding process.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

20 Things I Want My Kids to Know

I have four children.  The oldest two are daughters, ages 16 and 14.  The youngest two are sons, ages 9 and 6.  Sometimes they all cause me to think to myself "What in the world am I doing?"  Some days feel like wonderful successes.  Other days feel like miserable failures.  I had one of those "miserable failure" days the other day.  It just seemed like nothing went right.  I found myself wondering about and questioning what I was teaching my kids, how effective (or ineffective) I was in doing so, whether they were learning anything, etc.  Later that night as I lay in bed, I finally caught my breath and had a chance to decompress.  I reminded myself that parenting is full of thousands and thousands of small moments.  Some of them go well and some of them don't go so well.  I also reminded myself that the goal is for more of those moments over time to be of the positive variety.  If that's the case, then my relationship with my children will be more positive and the things that I'm trying to teach them will hopefully sink in.

The events of that day also got me thinking about what exactly it was I was trying to teach my children with the issues that had come up (honesty, work ethic, responsibility, etc.).  It reminded me of this little list that I used to read periodically.  I would ask myself if I was doing the things in my own life that would teach my children the lessons on that list.  That day has caused me to pull that list out and review it again.  It made be feel a little more determined to be a better example to them, increase the number of positive interactions I was having with them, and hope that some of these life lessons will stick with them.  Following is the list of things that I want my kids to know.