Ozark Trails Academy Creates New “Primitive Skills Outdoor Adventure Weekends” to Help Their Students
The goal of the “Primitive Skills Outdoor Adventure Weekends” for students at Ozark Trails Academy is to integrate the great outdoors with personal healing through intentional activities, team-building, and self-achievement. With safety as the guiding priority, facilitators make lesson plans that both anticipate and prevent dangerous situations while on the weekend expedition. This includes bringing the right equipment, analyzing the weather, preparing first aid, and evaluating each student’s physical and mental capacities.
Research on the benefit of combining clinical treatment with outdoor therapy led Ozark Trails to add these new weekend treks where students can embrace nature, tackle tough challenges, and process their emotions.
Director Richard Jones says, “Ozark Trails Academy aims to provide the best therapy and treatment for struggling students. We believe the “Primitive Skills Outdoor Adventure Weekends” will help students gain confidence for the future.”
The new “Primitive Skills Outdoor Adventure Weekends” at Ozark Trails Academy combine professional clinical treatment with challenging outdoor activities. Primitive skills are used as a therapeutic modality because of their power to change the mind and body. Primitive skills also activate the part of the brain that needs to heal. And separated from their destructive habits and behaviors in an outdoor setting, students have better access to this healing process.
Learning About Primitive Skills Helps Everyday Skills
Primitive skills that students learn at Ozark Trails include, but are not limited to; fire starting, shelter, outdoor cooking, plant and animal identification, lashing, orienteering, and many more. Each of these skills allows for therapeutic intervention. For example, as students learn how to start a fire on a cold wet day, the therapist can elicit thoughts and feelings related to other emotionally difficult experiences. When the student succeeds at making a fire, they better understand how they can do difficult things to improve how they feel, which is life-changing.
Leaving Friday afternoon and returning Monday morning, a group of 3-9 students and qualified counselors hit the trails on Academy property for a weekend of primitive skills lessons. Each student participates approximately once a month, led by qualified therapists, a biologist, a nutritionist, and an EMT. Through this immersive, hands-on learning of important survival skills, students experience self-achievement as they focus on mastering hard skills in Missouri’s great outdoors.
Students also get the chance to rebalance their thoughts and priorities, away from harmful exposure to phones and computer screens, as they tap into natural resources. The absence of technology and immersion into treatment with the outdoors promotes healing and a nurturing environment.
Research reveals that outdoor behavioral health results in promoting healing and treatment even for treatment-resistant young people. When youth experience an immersion into the natural environment, they undergo physiological and psychological changes.
The outdoor hands-on experiences and reflection time alone—and as a group–can help your teen process emotions, examine personal behavior, interact socially, develop relationships and improve self-esteem. Students find empowerment and meaning in what they have accomplished.
Ultimately, research has shown that programs that utilize the development of primitive skills like this are most effective because task accomplishment builds self-efficacy. Overall, we focus on empowering clients and families toward their potential by decreasing symptoms of problem behaviors, improving family relationships, and empowering change and hope.
Other Outdoor Activities at Ozark Trails Academy
Ozark Trails Academy also provides daily outdoor activities on campus led by a qualified recreational therapist who promotes diverse activities geared toward mental health.
Each student also has the opportunity to build therapeutic relationships with horses at weekly equine therapy sessions, taught by Ozark Trails therapists using Parelli Horsemanship therapy. This program emphasizes learning horsemanship by understanding horse behavior, psychology, and communication.
Teaching students the power of non-verbal communication and sensitivity becomes essential to developing their confidence and self-respect. Equine therapy also helps students improve their mental and physical health.
While students work with and care for horses, we encourage them to pay attention to changes in personal behavior and apply what they learn about themselves to their own lives and interpersonal relationships with others.
These daily outdoor activities also promote healing and restoration for each young teen enrolled at Ozark Trails Academy. Family-focused with individualized care, Ozark Trails rests on 900 acres that include horses, chickens, farming, rafting, spelunking, rock climbing, hiking, wilderness learning, and so much more.