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Meet a Real Adventure-based Counseling

Name: Carmelle Boyd, treatment coordinator

Education: Andrews University, Bachelor of Social Work degree; Walla Walla College, Master of Social Work degree

Location: Project PATCH (Planned Assistance for Troubled Children), a licensed behavior modification treatment facility for teenagers

The Job: Carmelle’s job revolves around gaining the trust of the 30 troubled teenagers at Project PATCH.Her mornings begin with an adventure-based group activity that encourages teamwork. In the afternoons she holds conferences with parents on what needs to be improved at home (many of the teens come from abusive homes).Between consultations with psychiatrists, teachers, and other counselors, Carmelle makes time to speak with each of the teens individually.Her job can be overwhelming—the days are emotionally intense—but when a counseling session ends in prayer (and they sometimes do), that’s when Carmelle knows that victory has begun.

Words to Live by “I have an opportunity to introduce kids to Christ not by preaching, but by listening, accepting, and loving them. My job teaches people how to love themselves as God loves them and how to love and respect others. This is what the Bible is all about and what Christianity means to me.”

Adventure for you?

Consider Adventure as a college major if you're crazy about:
• working directly with young people(this is where changing the worldbegins)
• the great outdoors (time to put yourcanoeing skills to good use)
• understanding human development(the whys and hows of what people do)

Avoid Adventure as a college major if you get nauseated by:
• nature (and the creepy crawlies that come with it)
• physical activity (there are no La-Z-Boyrecliners in the woods)
• being a disciplinarian (young peoplefrom bad circumstances sometimeshave bad attitudes)
• having lots and lots of patience (we’retalking about more than what youreserve for your siblings)


Adventure-based Counseling

On a frosty October day a group of people are taken to the Canadian Rockies. Each is blindfolded, then dropped off at an isolated location in the woods with one gallon of water, one wool blanket, and a pocket knife.

The increasing chill can be fought only by the clothes on their backs, the efficiency of their shelters, and their ability to build a fire without any artificial means (no matches, lighters, flint, steel, etc.). Their sustenance is dependent on edible plants and whatever is caught in their traps.They will be picked up in three days.

Welcome to Wilderness Survival and Tracking class. Those who survive will receive one credit toward their bachelor’s degree in adventure-based counseling—a three-year program offered at Canadian University College.

Adventure-based counseling is a relatively new but rapidly growing field that blends physical activities with therapy. Students are taught everything from rock climbing to behavior modification to cultural anthropology.

It’s the answer for those of you who’ve been searching for a career that combines the great outdoors with human service.

The variety of physical and mental skills the major requires may be daunting, but to students such as Ty Reidenbaugh it’s the perfect challenge.

“God’s whisper of direction came in those words ‘adventure-based counseling,’” says Ty, a junior at Canadian University College. “There was no question. This program defines my work here on earth.”

It took Ty three years of college and “major” indecision before he discovered his calling. But who knows? Maybe it’s your calling too! Check out the next few pages to find out.

We’ve asked Ty, adventurer extraordinaire, to acquaint us with this unique program.

On Course: What are some qualities prospective adventure-based counseling majors should have?

Ty: There are the necessary attributes such as mental and physical endurance and a zeal for the backcountry. But above all, you need a generous capacity to love and a passion for sharing.

Adventure-based counseling requires a lot of interaction with other people. And depending on where you apply your talents, you could be working with a population that hasn’t been afforded much love or positive attention.

OC: What surprises have you encountered in the program?

Ty: The most pleasant surprise is the amount of experience you receive through direct application of your skills. Whether it’s multiday field trips in the backcountry, fulfilling practicum requirements at a treatment facility for troubled youth, or working with special needs and school groups at Canadian University College’s indoor rock wall, it’s nice to be getting an active education.

OC: Any unpleasant surprises?

Ty: Well, some classes require that you go without a shower or toilet for a few days!

OC: H’mmm . . . Tell us about the classes you have to take.

Ty: Well, the Wilderness Survival class is interesting. The weekend of our trip was warm compared to previous years, and the night temperature dropped to only about 22° Farenheit!

The course material covered edible plants, shelter construction, fire starting by means of bow and drill, and human tracking (as in the case of a lost victim)—all of which were later applied in the big trip to the Rockies.

But all of the classes are interesting—Techniques in Counseling Children, Sociology of Youth, Methods in Mountaineering, and Kayaking, to name a few.

And Wilderness First Aid always generates an interest when it comes time to practice ice rescues. A small crowd usually assembles to watch as class members lower themselves into a hole cut into the ice of a nearby lake, waiting—quite breathlessly—for their fellow classmates to rescue them.

OC: I guess there’s no such thing as a typical day at school for you!

Ty: The word “typical” goes undefined in my school day.

OC: So what are some career options for those who graduate with a degree in adventure-based counseling?

Ty: The balance of human relations and outdoor activity classes makes this a tremendous asset for education majors to have as a second major or minor. The opportunities to employ one’s talents are limitless, ranging from summer camps to inner city youth programs.

Having this degree also offers you a foothold into the field of wilderness therapy. Wilderness therapy is used not only with troubled youth but also with adults. Whereas in the past group-building conventions and workshops were the norm, these days many corporate businesses are looking into wilderness therapy programs for developing team camaraderie.

OC: What do you plan to do after you graduate?

Ty: I will be working in a facility for troubled and at-risk youth. This will allow me to combine the four elements of my training—spiritual, recreational, educational, and therapeutic—in a four-season wilderness program.

OC: How does this career choice foster your own Christianity?

Ty: The most exciting thing is that the work of an adventure-based counseling graduate lends itself to building relationships. And relationships equate to influence.

It’s an honor to have a positive Christian influence on another individual, whether you’re sharing in their triumph at ascending a rock wall for the first time, watching the moon rise together, or illustrating to them Jesus’ love and acceptance. There’s no greater privilege.

This career will allow me to demonstrate the positive, active, and fulfilled life God has intended for everyone.

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