Thankful for Chicago Adventure Therapy
CAT has so many reasons to be thankful. This year, through a capital campaign, CAT was able to purchase a fleet of boats. We received a donation of bicycles from Discover Card. 1 of our youth and 2 of our staff were certified as BCU Level 1 Coaches. CAT participated in the inaugural Gichi Gumee Project. The list goes on.
As we reflect on our achievements and our blessings, we must also remember why CAT exists. Youth in Chicago live in a city in crisis. Rates of violence are through the roof. Schools are struggling to offer students what they need to learn. The recent economic decline is still stripping under-served communities of resources. The list goes on.
CAT exists to offer Chicago youth ways to weather these storms with life skills, leadership skills, camaraderie, healthy relationships, and access to healing spaces. Below, 6 present and former staff have shared their personal reflections on CAT and why they are thankful for its service to the Chicago community. Use the comments section to share your thoughts on thankfulness and why you support the work CAT does.
1. Name: Andrea Knepper
2. My connection to CAT: Founder and Executive Director
3. One awesome thing I did/ I will do in 2012:
Got to see one of our young people become a paddle sport coach and got to teach her to roll a kayak. She was SO EXCITED!
Took a solo kayaking trip to grand Isle in the UP this fall. Beautiful!!
4. I’m thankful for CAT because… Where to start?!
I’m grateful for the opportunity to witness the heart, the courage, the determination, the support that our youth bring to our programming. I’m so inspired by them.
I’m overwhelmed by the generosity and hard work of all the people who’ve helped make CAT a reality and a success – our staff, our Board, our volunteers, our donors, our student interns, our funders, our partner agencies, the outdoor community… I’m stunned when I take a step back and see how many people have come together to provide this opportunity for Chicago youth.
It’s really cool to get to see Chicago young people have the opportunity to do things they would never have otherwise gotten to do.
1. Name: Stephanie Miller
2. My connection to CAT: I have been with CAT since May 2010, when I did my 2nd level MSW internship there. I came on as full-time staff and Program Coordinator in 2011
3. One awesome thing I did/ I will do in 2012: Became a Level 1 BCU Paddle Sport Coach
4. I’m thankful for CAT because… 1.) it forces me to face my own privilege and biases on a daily basis and 2.) it provides an opportunity to create change in regards to those things, with the youth I get to work with.
1. Name: Grace Sutherland
2. My connection to CAT: I started out as a Masters of Social Work intern back in 2012, and now I’m the Resource Development Coordinator.
3. One awesome thing I did in 2012: Crossed off my #1 Bucket List item: seeing whales in in the wild.
4. I’m thankful for CAT because I get to be a part of a really amazing group of co-workers (staff and interns and volunteers alike!). There have been so many people involved in this organization over the years, and I’ve had the great opportunity to learn something from each of them. I am especially thankful that each of these people has been incredibly dedicated to opening resources and opportunities to young people, as well as treating each young person we encounter with profound respect.
1. Name: Ryan D. Heath – the D stands for “Danger”
2. My connection to CAT: I was a Schweitzer Fellow at CAT in summer 2011- winter 2012, and became part-time staff in summer of 2012. I also provide comedic relief on an as-needed basis.
3. One awesome thing I did in 2012: I presented research on CAT at the AEE conference in 2012.
4. I am thankful for CAT for its commitment to social justice in adventure therapy. At the AEE conference in November 2011, I was reminded of how (even among social workers working in adventure therapy and experiential education) that much of the field and its dialogue is focused on methods and professional reputation. It was surprising to me because us at CAT, we not only focus on the psychotherapeutic as well as technical skills, but the staff is constantly reflecting on and questioning the social implications of the work we do and what the social justice purpose behind the work we do. This is truly unique in the adventure therapy field, and a unique group of staff to be working with. For that, I am truly thankful.
1. Name: Erin Berry
2. My connection to CAT: I’m an intern with CAT.
3. One awesome thing I did in 2012: I started graduate school for a master’s degree.
4. I’m thankful for CAT because with them, I would not have met and learned from so many wonderful youth in Chicago.
1. Name: Stephanie Taylor
2. My connection to CAT: I worked for CAT in 2009 after I finished Grad School running programs over the summer
3. Awesome thing I did in 2012: Got married
4. I’m thankful for CAT because working for CAT solidified my decision to work in adventure therapy/experiential learning. I now work for The Chill Foundation, where I’ve continued to utilize and build upon skills that I learned at CAT.