Health and Education

Education is the key of successs

What Wilderness Means to Me

AT White Mountains

I had no idea what I was getting into when I started as a field guide in 2011. What I did know, however, was that the wilderness provides a powerful backdrop for anyone searching for something. I had recently gotten back from a four and a half month backpacking trip from Georgia to Maine on the Appalachian Trail (The “AT”), where I had experienced that fact first hand. When I started the Appalachian Trail, on the surface I was a confident and probably somewhat arrogant recent college grad. However, internally I was scared to death by the fact that I still had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I had always liked the outdoors but unlike many of the people I met during the trip, I was not fulfilling a lifelong dream by hiking the full length of the AT. Rather, I was fulfilling a dream that I had had for all of about two months after realizing that I was about to have to graduate and this was something that could help delay my entrance into “the real world.”

 

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What Wilderness Means to Me

AT White Mountains

I had no idea what I was getting into when I started as a field guide in 2011. What I did know, however, was that the wilderness provides a powerful backdrop for anyone searching for something. I had recently gotten back from a four and a half month backpacking trip from Georgia to Maine on the Appalachian Trail (The “AT”), where I had experienced that fact first hand. When I started the Appalachian Trail, on the surface I was a confident and probably somewhat arrogant recent college grad. However, internally I was scared to death by the fact that I still had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I had always liked the outdoors but unlike many of the people I met during the trip, I was not fulfilling a lifelong dream by hiking the full length of the AT. Rather, I was fulfilling a dream that I had had for all of about two months after realizing that I was about to have to graduate and this was something that could help delay my entrance into “the real world.”

 

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Parent Workshop – December 7 & 8 in Clayton, GA

July 17, 2012, is a day forever burned in my memory. It is the day that I witnessed my son have his first grand mal seizure. He was nine years old. It is also the day that began our family journey toward learning about epilepsy and the number of kids on the autism spectrum that struggle with this comorbid condition.

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Parent Workshop – December 7 & 8 in Clayton, GA

BlueRidgeWilderness Parentstherapy

At Blue Ridge Therapeutic Wilderness, we believe that respectfully addressing the family dynamics and improving communication between parents and children throughout the entire process is paramount. The family is essential to the progress a student makes.

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Why we work at Makarios...and not at In-N-Out

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This week a new parent at the school asked me: So do you all get a paycheck? Or are you all volunteers? Short of a discourse about how we each have justified working at what amounts to being a burger flipper, I just smiled and said: some of both. After all, as most individuals who work for non-profits, we are passionate about our work at Makarios.

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Why we work at Makarios...and not at In-N-Out

17493010_1453191511417525_1493315495643484633_o

This week a new parent at the school asked me: So do you all get a paycheck? Or are you all volunteers? Short of a discourse about how we each have justified working at what amounts to being a burger flipper, I just smiled and said: some of both. After all, as most individuals who work for non-profits, we are passionate about our work at Makarios.

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Putting On Your Oxygen Mask First: Self-Care for Parents and Givers

AT Finish

 

As the Family Support Therapist at Blue Ridge, I work with the parents of our students in the field. My role is to offer space for families to experience their own process, which often parallels the student process but is distinctly different for obvious reasons. Teens are in the woods, with both the discomfort that it brings and the luxury of not having to attend to their “normal” lives. 

 

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How School Meeting and Judicial Committee Promote Creative Problem Solving

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According to a 2015 Bloomberg survey of job recruiters, these are the “less common, more desired” traits that today’s recruiters are looking for in job candidates. Of course, these traits are less common in a society where you’re taught for thirteen years in a top-down approach with limited communication, under the leadership of an adult one hundred percent of the time, doing what you’re told and only what you’re told. In this system, correct answers are even marked wrong if a student uses an alternative method to find it. Where is there room to grow skills like communication, leadership and creative problem-solving in such an environment?

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How to Break the Cycle of a Repetitious Education

democratic free school

Do you remember being a 5th-grader and savoring those last few weeks of summer before you start back to school? You treasure every day, skating in the street with your friends, swimming at the community pool and staying up to the last minute of your summer bedtime curfew. Then, all the sudden, summer is over and the first week of school comes with a barrage of emotions: excitement to catch up with old friends, nerves about being in a new school or with a new teacher, happiness over being in class with an attractive girl or popular boy, worried about getting stuck with the hardest teacher, and eagerness to start learning! (Okay...maybe only a few students experience that last one, I loved learning and still do!)

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The Benefits of Mindfulness

IMG_1737-min

So why practice mindfulness?  As we take time to be present to our experiences, and practice focusing on the present, we actually rewire our brains by creating new neural networks.  What are neural networks, you ask? When we learn behavior (how to swim, how to write the alphabet, how to drive a car) we create a neural network in the brain--neural networks, essentially, are neurons collecting signals from others and this creates electric activity that creates connective branches in the brain. The more we repeat this behavior, the stronger the neural network becomes, and we establish this network as an “expert”—meaning that it is fully learned behavior (we don’t have to relearn it).  Students hiking through the wilderness is a beautiful metaphor for this process.  Imagine a single-track trail in the woods.  The more this single-track is used, the more established it becomes.  If we imagine how our road system started, many thoroughfares were once dirt roads, and the more certain roads

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