Wilderness Therapy in the Winter

Okay, let’s be honest with ourselves, it can be scary making the choice to send your child to wilderness therapy.  Now add in the fact that you may need to make this decision during the winter months and you can get overwhelmed. Yet there are tremendous benefits and opportunities that your child can gain from these experiences, and it’s important to try to look past the fear that can be associated with cold weather.  Here at Summit Achievement we fully understand your concern.  We have been operating continuously in New England for over 21 years and have honed the skills necessary to manage this climate safely.

To make your child’s experience one in which they will be challenged but ultimately find success, we take several steps to address the winter elements.  First, we are not a traditional primitive-skills based, full-wilderness program; rather we are a hybrid model with a mountaineering style emphasis.   We train our staff to make safe, conservative judgments when it comes to managing the winter environment.  Our youth are outfitted in the most up-to-date wilderness equipment designed specifically for the conditions your child will find themselves in.  Our staff will teach your child the best way to use their gear (suppliers include Marmot and Outdoor Research) to stay safe and comfortable in the woods. Along with this equipment, we plan our outings on a weekly basis allowing us to get accurate weather forecasts for the coming trip and plan the itinerary accordingly.  One aspect of winter camping we actively manage is frostbite.  We do this safely through a handful of redundant systems like proper education on how to prevent it, using equipment designed for the environment, making hot chocolate or tea, and staff checking each student’s fingers and toes every day to make sure that their extremities are warm and dry.  When the weather is at its worst, we have three wood-stove heated shelters strategically placed around our main campus in Stow, Maine.  The shelters provide protection from the elements and the wood-burning stoves help everyone keep warm and dry.

The woods during the winter months are often some of the most beautiful and serene settings you can find.  As we enter our 22nd winter, we are ready to provide a safe, impactful wilderness experience for your child like we have for so many others.