“It is an essential part of the Blackwater Experience. It helped [my son] integrate what he discovered into his family interactions and gave him time, with evidence, to come up with a viable plan for the future”
HISTORY OF BLACKWATER
Blackwater Outdoor Experiences is the passion project of Dr. George Bright. Founded in 1980 as a week-long program aimed at developing leaderships and social skills in adolescents through wilderness experiences, BOE has adapted over the years to the needs of those we serve. From week-long, to weekend length programs, from adolescents to young adults, for those with mental health issues, to those with social processing needs, BOE has continually offered transformational programs for the youth of the greater Richmond community and beyond.
Currently, BOE specializes in providing therapeutic wilderness expeditions to adolescents and young adults with substance abuse and mental health issues. Over the course of our flagship 22-day expeditions, participants find themselves canoeing, backpacking, and climbing their way to sounder mental health and sobriety.
Blackwater distinguishes itself within the Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare (OBH) industry firstly by being the only provider to staff a Master’s level Field Therapist on site, around the clock, for the entirety of our programming. For 22 days, our Field Therapists live, eat, and sleep alongside our participants because we know emotional breakdowns and breakthroughs don’t happen on a set schedule. Our guarantee to those we serve is that they will not be without credentialed therapeutic guidance when it is needed most.
Secondly, Blackwater is the only expedition-based OBH program in the state of Virginia. You’ll need to head as far north as Vermont or south to our neighbors in North Carolina to find anything remotely like the programming offered by BOE.
TODAY AT BLACKWATER
We are partnered with the Adolescent and Family Health Center
We have partnered with Longwood University for research on stress hormones and alternative therapies
We are working towards becoming a 501(c)(3), in order to make our trips accessible to all those who need them.
George M. Bright, M.D.
Founder, Owner, and Medical Director
Dr. Bright has devoted a majority of his career towards working with adolescents, young adults and families who struggle with emotional, academic and social challenges. Additionally, Dr. Bright works with individuals who are trying to free themselves from their dependance on alcohol or drugs.
After living all over the country and seeing what outdoor opportunities are out there, Tyler brings an extensive background in outdoor education to Blackwater. As a previous Field Instructor for Blackwater and the Colorado Outward Bound School, he has found a passion for helping others. It is his goal to help people overcome their greatest challenges, through life-changing experiences in the outdoors.
Ian Roeber, L.C.S.W.
Ian is a licensed clinical social worker who values accompanying others through the stories that shape their lives and providing a space for curiosity regarding their meaning. This interest has led him to a number of settings including jails, treatment centers, and community mental health settings. Having just moved from his home state of Colorado, he is excited to integrate these experiences with his passion for the natural world at Blackwater.