“In every walk with nature one receives far more tham he seeks.”

John Muir


Blackwater Outdoor Experiences works with two key age groups that include Adolescents (14-18 years old) and Young Adults (18 – Late 20’s). We work to make sure that each group is working towards similar treatment goals and is an appropriate fit for each participant. Read below for more detailed information of the different aspects of our expeditions.


Prior to the trip, the treatment team, which includes our Medical Director, Clinical Staff, Field Therapists, Field Instructors, Marketing & Admissions Coordinator, along with the family and participant, develop a treatment plan designed to meet the specific needs of each participant and his/her family. This plan outlines individual treatment goals and objectives for each participant to work towards while on course.  At the conclusion of the course, a comprehensive aftercare plan is developed with the help and input of the participant and his/her family in order to help maintain the gains made by the participant and their family.


Individual therapy is an integral part of the BOE program. Each participant has access to our Masters Level Therapists constantly throughout the day. Participants use our therapists’ skills routinely to process anxiety or stressors that present themselves at any given moment. More structured sessions are presented in a non-traditional manner designed to help reduce the anxiety of client. Throughout the program, each participant has a minimum of two structured sessions per week in addition to daily interactions with the Master’s Level Therapist. Sessions and interactions happen in the daily course of hiking, canoeing, and chatting.


Group Therapy occurs daily around a campfire under the stars. Once the group has established trust and a level of emotional safety, participants begin to share their experiences, thoughts, and feelings more openly. Through professionally guided conversation, open and honest disclosure happens, participants, discover that they are not alone and that many individuals experience difficult emotions and confusion pertaining to difficult situations and relationships. Participants begin to realize their thoughts and feelings are normal and they begin to accept open feedback from their peers.


Psycho Educational lessons teach our participants more about stress, anxiety, depression, and other psychological concerns. These experiential lessons accommodate different learning styles. When possible, situations from the course or events from the participant’s experiences are used in the lessons to increase the applicability of the information being taught. Topics are based on the individual treatment goals of the participants as well as the overall needs of the group.
Psycho-Educational lessons typically include didactic information, a visual representation, and an experiential activity.


Each of our participants is provided with a journal for their use throughout the program. Students are provided the opportunity to utilize the time set aside for the group to engage in writing out their thoughts in response to journal prompts provided by the therapist. This journal is personal and not to be read by the therapist or other students unless permitted. It is an aspect of the program that allows participants to use another method of expressing their thoughts and feelings to aid in the whole person approach our therapy. Many students find this to be a very useful tool.


Through this mode of therapy, participants are able to not only talk about but actively and experientially learn new coping skills and more effective ways to handle difficult situations and real life problems. Learning through play is one of the earliest ways we experienced and learned about our world. Young people today are so bombarded with technology, video games, and media that they rarely get the chance to nurture their own imaginations and exercise their minds in ways that encourage logical and creative problem solving.


Every course also includes a “Solo” experience, in which each participant spends up to 72 hours on his/her own, separate from the group environment, yet still under the support and supervision of the BOE staff. This experience allows time for quiet introspection free from distractions such as cell phones, video games, tv, as well as distracting topics of conversation.Although the idea of spending so much time in the woods “all alone” sounds intimidating to many, most of our participants enjoy the experience of being on their own. Prior to the Solo experience, all participants have had the opportunity to learn the skills needed to take care of themselves without direct staff or group help.


In order to maintain and expand the gains participants make while with BOE it is important that accommodations and adjustments are made in the home, family and support network of the individual. While participants are on their expedition, our clinical staff works with the families to improve overall family functioning through family sessions intended to improve communication, create effective family boundaries, and develop conflict resolution skills.
A plan with clear goals, expectations, and room for family discussions and contracts is put into place before the participant returns home or goes on to extended-care.


During the final weekend of the course, participants and families practice the skills they learned, enjoy outdoor recreational activities together, and participate in single family and multi-family therapy sessions with the extended treatment team. The family weekend is intended to clear up past issues and pave the way for new relationships based on improved communication, clear and realistic boundaries, rules, and expectations. The participants, their families, and the entire treatment team at BOE work together to create a really workable plan for the future. The weekend is full of opportunities for participants and their respective families to build stronger relationships with one another through shared experiences and therapeutic-recreational activities in the outdoors. The entire weekend is focused on rebuilding a strong foundation for the family.


Our staff works to put together the assessment we were able to develop in the 22-day program and offer the family a great deal of support and information to help each family take the necessary steps forward. Much of this work takes place in person at the Family Weekend, the final 2 days of 22-day program. We also offer direct referrals for further treatment if necessary. The Clinical Treatment Team (Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Licensed Professional Counselor, Medical Doctor, Doctors of Clinical Psychology and Masters Level Therapists) affords BOE the capability to make direct referrals for psychological testing, pharmacology, and after-care recommendations that are proposed by our professional staff with a long-standing history in the field of adolescent therapy, education, recreation and medication.