The Belief

acknowledging internal change symbol

We at WinGate have a deep-seated belief that every person, including each of the students we serve, is capable of dramatic internal change. Part of real change is a returning to, or a re-discovering of oneself. When issues are effectively addressed, personal characteristics are often “uncovered” and brought to light, revealing a unique, talented, and gifted person.

We point the way to the change we are looking for. We teach the principles each pendant represents. Our staff seek to exemplify these life lessons, inviting students to see and explore them. Structured teaching moments are sculpted to clarify and validate the principles found in the descriptions of the pendants, encouraging the students to test and explore them.

Internal Change vs Behavioral Change

As we have mentioned in other parts of this website, many wilderness programs seek to modify behavior by training students to respond affirmatively to external stimuli. This is not the outcome we at WinGate seek. Internal emotional change is the precursor to real behavioral transformation. Our program is designed specifically that each student may walk their own individualized journey to emotional and behavioral freedom.

The Power of Acknowledging

Powerfully acknowledging this kind of change reinforces it, giving it “solidity” and long-term significance. When students find positive meaning in themselves, this triggers not only positive emotions in the moment, but it creates impetus for positive upward spirals. Positive emotions become self-reinforcing. (Broaden and Build” Theory, Fredrickson 2002).

The Pendants

As a student begins to work through the WinGate process, they make changes and uncover traits (forgiveness, strength, cheerfulness, responsibility, setting goals, making amends, etc.). When this happens we celebrate with them by offering a pendant symbolic of the very changes they are making. This is done in a ceremony of profound honoring toward them. We seek to facilitate authentic personal validation of the deepest sort. This validation is something they can carry for the rest of their lives.

Symbols of Change

On this page, and in other parts of this website, you will see images of our pendants and symbols. Click on these images to explore the meanings behind them. As you explore know that these meanings are the very things we seek to exemplify and teach every day in the wilderness and on the trail of life.