“I’ve led a lot of adventure-based trips, but I have never felt so appreciated for it as I did with my first group of Portage Elora residents,” says Sarah Connolly, who took over as the centre’s Outward Bound Coordinator at the beginning of February. “Portage is a great, empowering program. The kids are given a lot of responsibility and are very motivated to change.”
Ms. Connolly, who has several years of experience with a similar adventure-based program for youth at risk, and has recently completed a carpentry course and a yoga instructor training course, has a lot to offer the residents seeking substance abuse rehabilitation at Portage Elora. In addition to the several day Outward Bound wilderness trips for graduating residents in Algonquin Park, she is maintaining the successful programs already in place, such as cross country skiing, hiking, and rock climbing, and adding some new ones, including yoga.
Residents were kept busy during their March break week off from school, going to the sugar shack, trying out curling, and participating in several team-building activities. Ms. Connolly led a Drum Walk for the residents around a bonfire, during which the participants were blindfolded and told to walk towards the beat of drum. They had to concentrate on what they were walking away from as well as what they were walking towards – every step was made with intention.
Ms. Connolly has taken over from Shannon Hartwig, who initiated the full-time Outward Bound program at Portage Elora last winter. The program has been extremely successful. Ms. Hartwig left Portage at the end of January to pursue her studies.