Nature-based adventure therapy combines the support of structured, regulated therapy treatment plans with the proven benefits of nature immersion.
Safety is paramount to WinGate's programming.
Let's look at some key points:
- Satellite phones, radios, and GPS pinpoint group locations and provide phone and text communication 24/7.
- While we have the ability for helicopter emergency transport, it has not been needed over 14 years treating nearly 3,000 clients.
- We have an extra staff member with a vehicle in the field 24/7 rotating between groups to respond to medical, psychological, or supply emergency needs.
- Our staff must pass extensive background checks, be in good health, and display emotional intelligence to join our team.
- High quality gear and layered clothing is supplied and re-supplied weekly throughout length of stay.
- Food and water are carried by students and staff at all times. Students can access snacks 24/7 and cook their own meals at the camp sites.
- Medical checks are performed in the field weekly by medical staff. Student's hands and feet are checked daily.
- Individual health, behavior, food, and water intake are observed and documented in staff logs and reported daily to administrative staff.
- Any medical needs are attended to in the field. If additional care is needed students are brought to local treatment providers.
Our team has been operating on the same land for the last 14 years.
WinGate's operations team assesses and prepares for any possible risks groups may encounter in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument.
Though the program is located in a nature preserve, it is often a safer and more controlled environment than the social or behavioral environments in the 'real world'.
"I know it works, and I know these kids are safe out there. They are loved."
– Ed Simons, LCS, BCD, Primary Therapist
Providing for individual's needs and nature's variance.
Groups are prepared with supplies to fit environmental and individual's needs. In addition to weekly supply drops, supplies can be requested by groups and field staff at any time.
Backpack weight must not exceed 20% of a student's body weight.
Fresh laundry is supplied weekly.
Dry bags are provided to keep essential gear safe from the elements.
Gear is updated as needed and to support changes in weather.
Students are taught best practices for hiking and camping in each season.
Field staff can request additional gear at any time for their group at any time through their satellite phone and upon site visits.
Food is never withheld, and students are free to cook or eat at any time.
Meals are adjusted to ensure individuals are calorically supported for all conditions and daily activities.
Students' meal kits are required to meet a minimum of 3000 calories per day.
A rotating supply of fresh fruits and veggies are provided twice a week.
Students' meal kits are stocked with additional items such as spices and ingredients for baking.
On days that groups hike, hikes adapt to the ability of the slowest hiker and the willingness of all individuals to hike.
Groups do not hike when temperatures are above 90°, below 10°, or if individuals are unable or unwilling to hike.
All students' physical health is screened upon arrival, medics provide weekly field checks.
Hygienic products and hot water for bathing are available for students to use at any time.
WinGate is naturally and clinically designed to support
emotional wellbeing and psychological health.
Activities in nature promote feelings of community and shared purpose.
A 2015 study linked more time in nature with a higher degree of community cohesion and substantially lowered crime rates.
Staggered shifts for field staff provide overlap between shift changes. This provides new students support of a familiar staff member when shifts change, rather than swapping all staff at once.
Unlike 'real world' environments, staff and students are prepared for any possible risks they could encounter in the Grand Staircase.
Consistency in day-to-day challenges of the environment allow youth to focus on relational skills and self-efficacy.
Transitional skills are integrated through team activities. Individuals have opportunities to serve as role models through rotating leadership roles.
Time in nature has proven to reduce blood pressure, stress hormones, anxiety, and nervous system arousal.
Individuals with Trauma, Attention Deficit Disorders, and aggression experience less symptoms in natural environments.
A 2019 study found that experiencing nature lifts moods, promotes a sense of calm, enhances prosocial behavior, and reduces feelings of isolation.
Licensed therapists and clinicians develop individualized treatment plans which are implemented programmatically and tracked daily.
Studies show that nature has a harmonizing effect on brain activity, the cardiovascular system, the endocrine system, and immune function, especially regarding physiological stress reactions.
Intentionally guided, clinically supported peer-groups foster healthy relationships.
Group admissions are based on mental and behavioral health needs as well as peer harmony.
Thoughtfully designed groups allow peers to learn positive skills from each other rather than magnifying old patterns. Team bonding through crafting, group circle activities, and setting up camp help students learn leadership, respect, and personal responsibility.
Studies show that the right balance of solitude can greatly benefit our emotional regulation and mental health.
Students at WinGate always have the option to step aside and take a quiet moment to pause and reflect, while maintaining the connection with and support of their group. This constant availability supports steady emotional regulation.
Contact our admissions team to learn more about
WinGate's dedication to safety & healing.