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Archive for the ‘CAT Staff’ Category

A little over a week ago, I got home from a week in South Carolina learning about two new British Canoeing awards.   I was lucky and honored to be present for the North American launch of these two new awards. I’d like to take a minute to give you some information about them – the Paddlesport Leader Award and the Paddlesport Coach Awards – as well as direct you to some new developments, including my favorite, some great elearning materials on the redesigned British Canoeing Awarding Body website.

PaddlesportLeaderPaddlesport Leader Award

This is a robust multicraft leadership award for people leading in sheltered water environments. It can be easy to dismiss a “sheltered water award” as not robust or not requiring significant skill. Neither is true of this award.

Multicraft

This award covers sea kayaks, canoes, recreational kayaks, stand up paddleboards, sit on top kayaks, surf skis… Successful assessment of this award indicates that the leader can competently lead new paddlers on introductory trips in a variety of craft. As such, candidates need to have creative group management strategies that include all the “standard” issues (different goals of group members, different paddling speeds, etc), as well as challenges inherent in a multi craft group (for example – a stand up paddle board usually moves more slowly than a sea kayak…). The successful candidate needs to be able to handle emergencies in a multicraft group also. They need to be able to perform a self rescue in their chosen craft, at a standard that allows them to get back in/on their craft without losing control of the group. They can get some help in their self rescue – the emphasis is not on doing it alone, but on resolving the situation while maintaining the safety and confidence of the group. They also need to be able to rescue a variety of craft from their chosen craft. This doesn’t mean that the assessment invites a bonanza of rescues from every craft to every craft. Rather, the successful candidate will understand several core principles of rescues that will allow them to problem solve a rescue of any craft they may find themselves leading. They also need to show an understanding of towing techniques for a variety of craft – again, most importantly, showing an understanding of some core principles that will allow them to problem-solve a tow for whatever craft they may need to.

Sheltered Water

There’s a specific definition of “sheltered water” for this award.

Sheltered Inland Water:

  • Canals
  • Ungraded sections of slow moving rivers where the group could paddle upstream against the flow (not involving the shooting of, or playing on, weirs or running rapids)
  • Areas of open water (e.g. lakes and lochs) not more than 200m offshore and in wind strengths that do not exceed Beaufort force 3 (Beaufort force 2 if wind direction is offshore)

Sheltered Tidal Water:

  • Small enclosed bays or enclosed harbours
  • Defined beaches where the group could easily and quickly land at all times
  • Slow moving estuaries (less than 0.5 Knots)
  • Winds not above Beaufort force 3 (Beaufort force 2 if wind direction is offshore)

You’ll note this is really two venues, whether Inland or Tidal – moving water and open water. Successful candidates need to show leadership, personal skills and rescue skills in both venues. These two venues taken together make this sheltered water award a broad, robust award.

Prerequisites

There are no prerequisites for this award. The candidate must show at assessment that they are at standard. There are several official British Canoeing courses that may prove helpful for some candidates in their preparation for this course. The most helpful are likely the 3 Star Award in the candidate’s chosen craft, and the Foundation Safety and Rescue Training (FSRT) for safety protocols and a variety of rescues and rescue principles. Some candidates will find that the Paddlesport Leader Award, coupled with a Padlesport Instructor Award (this is the new name for the Coach 1 Award – more on this below), provides a solid base for introducing new paddlers to the sport, with the ability to teach them basic skills and take them on a led trip in sheltered water. This trust in the candidate to create their own learning process to get to standard and successful assessment reflects a new orientation to learning and development on the part of British Canoeing. More on this below.

CoachAward Coach Award

All of the coaching awards have been re-named.
Coach 1 Award –> Paddlesport Instructor
Coach 2 Award –> Coach Award
Coach 3 Award –> Performance Coach Award
The Coach Award is now sort of a “suite” of awards, from which the candidate chooses the most appropriate for them. Whereas the UKCC Level 2 Award was multi craft, the Coach Award is discipline specific. The disciplines are broken out both by craft and by venue. Training includes two types – a core training that everyone takes together, and a discipline specific that is unique for the award a candidate wants to earn.
This award allows candidates to enter the coaching system and proceed directly to any Coach Award. Candidates do not need to start with the Paddlesport Instructor Award (UKCC Level 1), and do not need to start with a sheltered water coaching award before progressing to a moderate or advanced water coaching award. Personal skills and leadership awards are only required as prerequisites for moderate and advanced water awards. A candidate’s personal skills should be at a 3 star standard for a sheltered water award, but the 3 star award itself is not a prerequisite.
Let’s break it down a little more.
The Coach Award looks at several aspects of coaching:
Who – Who are your students? What are their skills? How do they take in information? What are their motivations? What do they want to learn? What’s holding them back?
How – What are the strategies available to coach a student? The training looks at ways of session planning and options for structuring a session or structuring practice – with the pros and cons of various types of structure. The course looks at ways of learning, types of sensory input, and stages and pathways of knowledge acquisition
What – What does a coach teach their students? Skills? Strokes? Core concepts? Specific moves in a given environment? The ability to choose an appropriate move in a given environment?

Where — How does a coach make deliberate use of the environment for effective learning? How do they take opportunities the environment offers, and work around limits placed by the environment?

Training

The Coach Award training is in two parts – the Core Training and the Discipline Specific Training.
Core Training – The Core Training covers basically the Who and the How of coaching. Candidates in all disciplines take this training together – these two areas are basically the same regardless of the discipline or the venue.

Discipline Specific Training — The Discipline Specific Training covers basically the What and the Where – these two areas change by venue and discipline. There are a lot of categories in the Discipline Specific. The categories that will be offered North America are:

  • Canoe and Kayak Coach (sheltered water, equivalent to UKCC Level 2 Award)
  • Canoe Coach (sheltered water)
  • Kayak Coach (sheltered water)
  • Sea Kayak Coach (moderate water; equivalent to UKCC Level 2 with Moderate Water Endorsement)
    • Prerequisite – Sea Leader Award (“old 4 Star”)
  • Sea Kayak Coach, Advanced Water (advanced water; equivalent to UKCC Level 2 with Advanced Water Endorsement)
    • Prerequisite – Advanced Sea Leader Award (“old 5 Star”)

Assessment

There is no longer a workbook or portfolio requirement for assessment. While British Canoeing continues to value the necessity for consolidation of learning, an attempt has been made to allow the candidate to determine how best to do that for themselves. There are multiple options available, from formal to informal. The philosophy behind this is that learners should be involved in their own learning, and allowed to learn in the ways best suited to them. A coaching candidate is a learner when they are learning to coach – and the requirements of the journey to coach have been changed to allow for individualization and ownership of the process. This place a much greater responsibility on the coach candidate – they cannot simply “tick the boxes” and go for assessment. The candidate will have to be pro-active about choosing the learning options best suited for them and actively pursue those options. They will also need to consider carefully for themselves whether they believe themselves to be at standard before presenting themselves for assessment.

CPD

The new Coach Award is considered an appropriate way to pursue continued personal development (CPD). British Canoeing assumes current coaches may well take either training specifically to stay up to date in their coaching knowledge and practice. The trainings are not considered to be only for the purposes of moving towards assessment, or only for candidates who are not already coaches. They are squarely placed as a means of continued learning for anyone who chooses to take them.
There is also an assumption that some coach candidates may choose to take one or both of the trainings more than once before choosing to assess.

NewDevelopmentsNew Developments

Elearning

The British Canoeing Awarding Body’s new website offers a broad range of free educational materials. All of the elearning is presented in short interactive sessions, with a “quiz” at the end, that identifies your areas of strength and the areas to improve, links to information about each of those areas. It’s really a pretty impressive and exciting development!

Here’s a set of elearning for general coaching knowledge.

Here’s the Elearning for the Paddlesport Leader Award.

Changes in Coaching AwardsBritish Canoeing will be reviewing the other coaching awards in the next several years. The Paddlesport Instructor Award (the “old UKCC Level 1”) will be reviewed next; the re-worked award will be launched in January 2019. The Performance Coach Award (UKCC Level 3), will be reviewed and re-worked after that.

Star Awards

The Star Awards have not been changed. The names of the 4 Star and 5 Star awards, however, have been changed.
4 Star Award –> Sea Leader (or Open Canoe Leader)
5 Star Award –> Advanced Sea Leader (or Advanced Open Canoe Leader)

As of now, the 1 Star, 2 Star and 3 Star Awards have not been changed.

British Canoeing International

British Canoeing is launching British Canoeing International this spring. This will allow for international memberships, with options that include insurance and other benefits tailored for an international audience. Watch the British Canoeing website for the launch.

My Pathway

British Canoeing has added a section to the website to help paddlers understand the requirements and steps to achieve a variety of awards, whether they are personal skills awards, safety awards, general knowledge awards, or coaching awards. Take a minute to check out My Pathway.

 

* all photos courtesy of Ginni Callahan, owner of Sea Kayak Baja Mexico

Summer Internships

By Laura Statesir
February 23, 2016 10:09 am

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…Kaleidoscope

Organization Description:

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.

Responsibilities:

  • 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

Requirements:

  • 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

Benefits:

  • 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

To apply:

KaleidoscopeIf you are interested in applying, please submit a cover letter and resume to Andrea Knepper at info@chicagoadventuretherapy.org.

Laura StatesirChicago 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!

Much love,

Laura

 

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.

Gitchi Gumee 2014

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.

 

Andrea:

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.

Stephanie Miller:

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.

Cycling with the Night Ministry

Grace:

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.

 Ryan:

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.

Erin:

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.

 

Stephanie Taylor:

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.

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.

Sea Cave

Pausing to enjoy the day

 

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.

Rock and Water SpoutCloudsWater Spout

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.

Cliff and beach

Respite and skill

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.

Cook set

Return to the every day

 

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

Executive Director

You’ve met Jennifer,  Alyssa, and Anne! Now meet a fourth CAT summer intern! Our interns have been with us for a month now, and have already made their mark on our organization. We are so thankful for their work and dedication, and are excited to introduce you to them!

Gayl, second from right, at our BCU Coach 1 Training!

Name: Gayl Monto

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

We’ve introduced you to Jennifer and Alyssa, now meet a third CAT summer intern! Our interns have been with us for a month now, and have already made their mark on our organization. We are so thankful for their work and dedication, and are excited to introduce you to them!

Next up: Anne!

Only some of the material on our Reading List for Interns!

 

Name: Anne Carter

Previous/Current Occupation: My background is in education. I’ve taught students from 2nd grade through adult classes. I have also worked at day camps, residential and therapeutic camps in New England.

Childhood Ambition: Ballerina!

3 Words that best describe you: Patient, Lighthearted, Receptive.

Proudest Moment: At the end of a GED course that I taught at a correctional institution, one of my most difficult students said he wanted to continue his education after he got transferred. Inspiring a drive to learn was unbelievable.

Why Chicago Adventure Therapy (CAT)? I’ve seen the impact of adventure activities on individuals labeled with behavioral problems in my previous work and I truly believe in the power of trying new things as an instrument of growth. These types of activities are not as readily available in an urban environment and I believe this avenue for change should be accessible for all. I am excited to have the opportunity to be a part of bringing this unique experience to Chicago’s youth.

What have you learned so far in your internship? This type of work puts participants in the “driver’s seat” because they are involved in the process of the activity and responsible for the outcome.  Learning through natural consequences and group dynamics can be the most powerful experiences.

What has surprised you about CAT and/or about Adventure Therapy?  There’s a larger body of research than I expected regarding adventure therapy and brain structure.  As research continues to unfold I look forward to further acceptance of the field of adventure therapy as one that develops stronger mental health through awareness, self-confidence and contemplation.

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!

Today, meet Jennifer!

The staff and interns attempt some teamwork at the 2012 Intern Orientation.

 

Name: Jennifer Lipske
Previous/Current Occupation: Special Education Teacher
Childhood Ambition: I wanted to be a teacher or an astronaunt.
3 Words that best describe you: Dependable, Competent, Flexible
Proudest Moment: The day I became a mother, and going back to school for my Master’s in Social Work.
Why Chicago Adventure Therapy (CAT)? I chose to intern at CAT because I want to work with adolescents and young adults and help them achieve their goals, realize their strengths, and empower themselves. I believe CAT offers a unique opportunity to reach young people through the use of adventure therapy and provides them with the tools they need to achieve growth and change.
What have you learned so far in your internship? I have learned about a wide variety of adolescent populations and some of the challenges they face everyday, and this has made me more aware of the world as they see it. I also got on a rock climbing wall for the first time which was amazing!
What has surprised you about CAT and/or about Adventure Therapy? I am surprised at how much this opportunity has effected my life already and how just being out in natural settings can really be an empowering feeling and a powerful vehicle for change.  

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! 

Alyssa teaches our interns the ins and outs of belaying

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…

 

Ground Rules for the Leadership Group - we couldn't be more impressed

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.