Using outdoor adventure sports like paddling, orienteering, cycling, camping and rock climbing, Chicago Adventure Therapy (CAT) works with Chicago youth to have a lasting positive impact on their communities and become healthy adults by teaching effective social skills and strong leadership skills, increasing participants’ sense of possibility, and fostering a sense of empowerment and personal responsibility.
The philosophy and activities of Chicago Adventure Therapy are based on our Clinical Frame, a compilation of several documents outlining what we do and how we do it. To learn more please see our Clinical Framework page.
Meet the CAT Team Members
The Chicago Adventure Therapy staff and board is a group of hardworking passionate individuals who come from varied clinical and outdoor education backgrounds. To read more about our team please see our CAT Team Members page.
Starting a CAT Program with Your Organization
Chicago Adventure Therapy currently accepts group referrals from other agencies and organizations. In the future, we will also accept referrals of individuals. We offer half-day and full-day programs, as well as ongoing programs that meet once or twice a week for an extended period of time.
A note from Andrea Knepper, Executive Director
I’m a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, a sea kayak instructor and a wilderness guide. The juxtaposition of these experiences provided the idea and motivation for CAT. Leading affluent people on vacations in the wilderness, I sometimes watched it change their lives. Over the course of a week-end, a 6-year-old girl on one of the family trips I led went from being terrified to paddle a double kayak with her father to demanding a single of her own. She spent the last day of the trip paddling her boat, lounging on the top of it, posing as the bowsprit, and chasing turtles. At the end of the trip, her father was near tears as he tried to express the impact this two day trip had on his daughter. At the time, I was working at a Community Mental Health Center. One of my adolescent clients couldn’t stop opening and closing desk drawers, turning the lamp on and off, spinning the chair around and around. He was frequently loud and inappropriate. If I went for a walk with him, he immediately stopped being disruptive and was remarkably vulnerable about his hopes and his fears. I founded Chicago Adventure Therapy in order to be able to work with clients like this young man, providing experiences like the weekend camping trip provided for the 6 year old girl.