Archive for the ‘CAT Staff’ Category
Update: Applications for our summer internship program are closed for 2016. Please check back with us in early 2017 for next summer.
CAT is looking for a few dedicated individuals who would like to spend their summer working with us! Keep reading if you are interested…
Using adventure sports like kayaking, camping, cycling, and climbing, Chicago Adventure Therapy (CAT) helps under-served youth in Chicago have a lasting positive impact on their communities and become healthy adults by teaching effective social skills, increasing participants’ sense of possibility, and fostering a sense of empowerment and personal responsibility.
Intern Job Description:
Chicago Adventure Therapy (CAT) seeks an intern to assist with summer programming using urban-based adventure therapy with under-served and marginalized youth. This unpaid internship is open to students who need an internship, field placement or practicum in order to fulfill the requirements for their degree. Interested and qualified students who cannot meet the above requirement can also structure it as an Independent Study for which they receive credit.
- Assist with the overall planning, implementation and follow up of single day and summer-long programming
- Work alongside program staff to facilitate adventure therapy groups
- Co-lead cycling, climbing, camping and/or kayaking activities
- Help develop targeted one-on-one and group clinical interventions with a range of underserved and marginalized youth
- Organize paperwork for programs including waivers and medical forms
- Assist with program logistics such as equipment, meals, and transportation
- Participate in weekly staff meetings and additional trainings
- Able to commit at least 20 hours/week from June – August
- Able to co-lead cycling, climbing, camping and kayaking programs
- Interest in clinical psychotherapy and/or youth development
- Curiosity about the experiences of under-served and marginalized youth and practices to best serve these populations
- Dedication to social justice and anti-oppressive practice
- Ability to work independently, collaboratively, and flexibly
- Experience working with under-served and/or marginalized youth is preferred
- Experience in outdoor, adventure, or experiential education; social work or community-based youth programming strongly preferred
- Ability to work outdoors in harsh weather, lift 20 – 50 lbs, and work a non-standard schedule
- Students in a clinical field of study will receive clinical supervision from an LCSW. Please check with your institution about required supervision and/or required credentials of field supervisor.
- Experience using adventure therapy with under-served youth populations
- Work alongside and learn from other fun loving, passionate, and dedicated adventure therapy professionals
If you are interested in applying, please submit a cover letter and resume to Andrea Knepper at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Chicago Adventure Therapy is growing! We would like to introduce you to our newest staff member, Laura Statesir. This summer, Laura joined CAT as its first fulltime Program Director. Laura is a seasoned outdoor program manager and instructor with experience directing international adventure schools as well as fourteen years of guiding in both mountain and coastal settings in five different countries.
In college, Laura earned a BS in Recreation, Park and Tourism Sciences with an Outdoor Education Specialist certificate. Laura is a certified Wilderness First Responder, SCUBA Diver, and CPR/First Aid Instructor. Through CAT, she recently earned her British Canoe Union Two Star Award.
What Laura has to say about her new job:
I have always believed in the power of adventure activities and I am so excited to be a part of CAT’s amazing team. I have been volunteering with CAT for the past three years, mostly by taking youth from the Crib, a local homeless shelter for LGBTQ youth, on adventure activities. I am so pumped about working for CAT because I have seen the ways in which its programs change young people’s lives.
For example, “Matt” is one of the first young people I met through CAT. You can’t help but instantly like him. He’s goofy, friendly and very thoughtful. He took to kayaking like a duck to water. In one hour he mastered a skill that took me months to learn. That was almost three years ago. In that time “Matt” has earned a kayaking certification, been invited to paddle all over the US and even left the country for the first time when we took a group to Mexico.
But the beauty in “Matt”’s story is not about kayaking. It’s about how spending time with “Matt” on the water has changed his life. When I met “Matt”, he didn’t have a job or a place to live. He was sleeping on the streets, crashing on friend’s couches, or staying at the Crib. While “Matt” had many dreams and desired to be self-sustaining, he faced significant barriers like a lack of resources and opportunities, loss of his support system, and discrimination. Few people believed in him and he doubted himself. Day-to-day survival had become his main focus.
Today “Matt” has his own apartment. He has a job and is back in school. He now knows that he can overcome any obstacle in his path. He is responsible for his own life and working towards his dreams.
I believe many of these positive changes in “Matt”’s life are a direct result of his involvement with CAT. Through CAT, “Matt” has a new support system, people who believe in and encourage him. Through CAT, “Matt” has someone in his corner. Through CAT, “Matt” has opportunities he never dreamed possible. Through CAT, “Matt” has improved self-confidence, social intelligence, self-control and resiliency. This past summer “Matt” joined us as a leader on a CAT program. My heart beamed with pride as I watched him lead, support and encourage his peers.
I am so excited to be able to pour into the lives of more young people like “Matt”! That is why I want to work for CAT.
Outside of CAT, you can find me running, playing soccer, eating and trying to find ways to make the Chicago weather warmer. Thank you for believing in CAT and for joining us in our zany efforts to make this world a better place!
A Quick Note:
While CAT has needed a fulltime Program Director for many years, our funding has always prevented us from hiring one. To solve this issue, Laura is raising her entire salary. She has asked her friends and family to partner with her by supporting her financially. All of the funds to pay Laura come from individual donors who have designated their contributions for her salary. She is delighted to have the support of so many people who believe in this work and who are committed to using their lives and financial gifts to serve others.
If you wish to donate to Chicago Adventure Therapy, either to support the General Fund or Laura Statesir’s salary, please go to our Donate page.
After a VERY busy summer here at CAT, I had a chance to take a short solo camping trip last week in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. It was a GREAT trip – utterly beautiful.
For me, getting into the wilderness centers me and grounds me. It gently, almost imperceptibly pushes aside all the things that don’t matter, and reminds me of who I am. It allows me to be fully present in the moment.
That respite, that pause, that chance for worry to fall away – it helps me get back to calm after a busy, hectic, exciting, fabulous summer. And so I am reminded, also, how important that respite, that pause, that chance for worry to fall away – how important that is for our young people.
Don’t get me wrong – there was plenty of excitement, too! A solo kayak camping trip is not something to be taken lightly. The weather changes just as dramatically whether you’re solo or with a group. When it comes down to it, the Lake is in charge.
You have to know and understand the risks. You have to know your own skills and limits. You have to respect the weather and the conditions. You have to be ready to change your plans, whether you want to or not. You may well be nervous, even scared, during parts of your trip.
I had several tricky judgement calls to make. For instance – one should not paddle with water spouts! On Day 2 I paddled around a point to find a water spout front and center. I got ready to turn around and hightail it back to land – but I paused because I was mesmerized by the beauty and the awe of the water and the spout. As I watched, the water spout and the rest of its cloud moved east quickly, there was clear sky behind it to the west, and I was traveling north. I kept paddling in calm waters and the water spout eventually disappeared.
Or how about this one? You should not paddle in conditions beyond your limit. Listen to the forecast and heed it. The night before I planned to paddle out, the forecast was calling for 4-7 foot waves the next day. I like to play in those conditions with friends on a sandy beach with an unloaded boat. I do NOT paddle in those conditions solo around cliffs with a loaded boat! The conditions didn’t materialize in my sheltered bay the next day but I was concerned about north winds and the north-facing point I needed to round in order to get home. I watched, and could see that the bay had waves less than a foot high – well within my limits as a solo paddler. I could see larger waves on the horizon, but it looked like my point was still in the lee of the rest of the island. And I could see that there was a safe place for me to go where I could see around the point. I paddled out, reminding myself that if conditions warranted I MUST go back and re-set camp to paddle out two days after my planned departure, when the winds were forecast to settle down again. I got to my observation spot of the point to find a few gentle 3 foot waves – at the edge of what I’m willing to do solo, and diminishing the farther around the point I could see. I paddled out that day.
So I ended up paddling solo with water spouts one day and in a 4-7 foot forecast the next. Without the background info, I would call bad judgment if I heard about someone doing that.
But it was fabulous, it was safe, and the combination of respite and honed observation or risk had remarkably rejuvenating effects. The combination of respite, pause, a chance for worry to fall away on the one hand; and excitement, risk, careful consideration of sensory stimulation sorted through a filter of what we know about our chosen activity – this combination can get our brain working well. It can get our brain making creative connections, without the overstimulation and inability to stop that comes with chronic trauma or with other constant, unending stimulation. I won’t go into the brain chemistry and morphology involved – it’s fascinating and deeply relevant for the work we do with Chicago youth, but I won’t do it justice. My brain certainly started working better. As did my heart and my soul.
I had lots of ideas about CAT programming, about a staff retreat out here, about all sorts of stuff. What I am left with is this:
We talk a lot about the importance of respite for our young people. Providing for respite is recognized as one of the necessary components of trauma-based interventions. I think that sometimes we forget what that really means, and why it’s so important. We get caught up in making sure we’re matching the right theory with the right population; that we’ve got an effective debrief; that we’re building life skills that can be measured in order to prove we’re doing quality work with important outcomes; that we can articulate why and how we do what we do. The list of important considerations goes on and on.
What I am left with after this trip is the visceral reminder of the importance of respite.
I am home now, the cook set and other gear is washed and put away, and I have returned to find fall waiting for me. It’s a season when we do a lot of reflection and planning. We want our young people to learn to assess the risk in their lives and develop skills for managing it. We want them to be able to think critically in the midst of nervousness or fear. We want them to make good decisions. We want a lot of things for our young people!
This fall I will remember that as we carefully plan interventions that allow our young people to assess risk, to think before they act, to communicate clearly, to solve problems effectively, to develop a personal confidence they hadn’t had before – I will remember that this active part of our programming must always be balanced with respite, pause, and a chance for the worries to fall away. At its best, our programming should gently, almost imperceptibly push aside all the things that don’t matter, and allow our young people to be fully present in the moment. It should remind them of who they are.
Wishing you all a great fall, full of challenge and respite!
–Andrea Knepper, LCSW
Previous/Current Occupation: Professional Organizer (residential and business environments), I believe my confidential, collaborative, and helping objectives and goals simulate a therapeutic relationship for my clients. I am passionate about the clients I work with and maintain longterm relationships.
Childhood Ambition: working with people that want to grow and change internally
3 Words that best describe you: outgoing, insightful, compassionate, creative, problem-solver
Proudest Moment: the birth of my 3 lovely daughters, returning to get my masters as a mother, small business owner, and motivated learner
Why Chicago Adventure Therapy (CAT)? I am passionate about the outdoors and helping people to gain confidence in their abilities to succeed
What have you learned so far in your internship? training sessions learning about the new populations I will be working with, understanding the impact and influence these experiences can have for these youth, excitement that I will be learning so much from the staff and other interns
What has surprised you about CAT and/or about Adventure Therapy? AT is a rapidly growing field that can have positive outcomes for youth and other ages as well
Over the next 2 weeks, you get to meet Chicago Adventure Therapy’s interns! They’ve been with us for almost a month now, and have already made their mark on our organization. We are so thankful for their work and dedication, and thought you’d like to witness their awesomeness for yourself!
First up: Alyssa!
Name: Alyssa Yokota-Lewis
Previous/Current Occupation: EVERYTHING. Specifically, Climbing Instructor, REI Customer Outfitter (my name for it), Nanny, Tutor, Former Lead Educational Outreach Coordinator
Childhood Ambition: Librarian or Circus Performer
3 Words that best describe me: Passionate, Perceptive, Open
Proudest Moment(s): The moments I realize I have learned how to share.
Why CAT?: Because I believe in the therapeutic power of guided kinesthetic challenge. And because that belief and a passion to help youth find their own inner strengths is wholeheartedly felt throughout this organization.
What have you learned so far in your internship?: That we learn from each other as much as or more than from any independent pursuit of knowledge and experience. And that by acknowledging and celebrating the unique qualities of each individual (leaders and youth included) we can grow stronger as a group. No group exists without its individual parts.
What has surprised you about CAT/AT?: Given the incredible consideration, room, and access to nature it gives for an individual to grow by their own definition, I am surprised that there are not more Adventure Therapy organizations like CAT in areas where so many youth struggle to fit into their rigid and distracting urban environments.
I have been thinking about gratitude. I volunteer at a soup kitchen; I eat there once a week. I’ve learned a lot about awkward relationships across societal barriers. I’ve learned a lot about austerity and going without. I’ve learned a lot about trust. I’ve learned a lot about mis-trust. This last week I learned about gratitude.
Sometimes as social workers we can get into a frame of mind where we think our clients somehow “owe” us gratitude. We want them to be grateful to us — we work hard, we don’t get paid a lot, we try to get people what they need in a system and economy that don’t make it easy. We move mountains. So we’re pleased when people appreciate the work we’re doing for them. When we’re tired and stressed and doing our best but our best isn’t quite enough, it’s easy to slip into that frame of mind where we think we DESERVE their gratitude.
This week there was a man at the soup kitchen who was new. There were a few things that didn’t go how he wanted – when the meal started he watched other people at the table take large servings after he had been careful not to take more than his share. Our conversation meandered through some uncomfortable topics – for instance, he told me that I didn’t seem to fit in with everyone else, and wanted to know if the church that sponsors the soup kitchen planted a few volunteers at the tables for crowd control… I sometimes appreciate uncomfortable conversations (much more AFTER the fact than during!) because they are often the ones that allow us to speak candidly about taboo subjects – like the difference in class between two parties to a conversation.
Where our conversation settled after the meandering was on the topic of gratitude. Despite the discomfort and flaws he had seen and named aloud, he said, with absolutely no bitterness, hesitation or rancor, that he was grateful “for places like this.” He wasn’t bitter; he also wasn’t subservient. He didn’t seem to feel like he owed anyone his gratitude. He was simply grateful for a meal.
I asked him about it – because really, how many of us manage to successfully cultivate an attitude of gratitude in our lives? Especially if things are tough enough that we don’t have enough food at home? He said he has to work at it; and that he practices.
His life is such that he doesn’t have enough food. To get enough food, he has to do something that’s really hard – has has to publicly ask for help. And yet he maintains a stance of gratitude for the gifts freely given him in his life.
I was blown away. And grateful for his example.
— In the same way that I am frequently blown away by the young people we work with. —
Here’s just one example. At the first meeting of our Leadership Group this spring, we were concerned about bringing together youth from a variety of our partner agencies. Specifically, many of the young people at The Night Ministry identify as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. Many of the young people in the gang prevention program we work with come from a faith background that tells them homosexuality is a sin. We struggled with the ethical ramifications of NOT inviting young people from one organization, and with the ethical ramifications of bringing them together in one program because of potential safety concerns. We looked carefully at the individuals who were interested in the program, thought carefully about when and how to frame the issues of diversity and inclusion, planned both the content and the sequence of our curriculum carefully, staffed the program with even tighter ratios than we usually do – and invited young people from both groups. All of our staff were impressed with how they interacted with each other. They were polite, generous, mature, inviting, interested…
What I feel when I think about that first session of the Leadership group is a sense of gratitude. Gratitude for the example they set for us.
When social workers are at our best, we don’t look for gratitude from our clients. When we’re at our best, we realize how much gratitude we have for the example our clients set for us. I feel like that’s especially true at CAT because of the population we work with. Sometimes teenagers can be brats – we all know that! We certainly see it at CAT.
But when we can call forth the best in teenagers, they show us the best in themselves, and the possibility that there is for our world. The only response is gratitude.