Portage Ontario’s partnership with Outward Bound has proven to be an incredibly valuable therapeutic tool for the residents’ rehabilitation process at Portage Elora. All those who have participated in the hiking, canoeing, or dog sledding trips in Algonquin Park have been profoundly affected by the experience. These several-day trips, along with the many day trips and Outward Bound activities at the centre, force residents to step out of their comfort zone and to confront physical outdoor challenges head-on. Many of these challenges can be tied back metaphorically to their substance abuse rehabilitation process, which encourages them to put into practice the competencies they have learned at Portage.
“This experience helped me learn how to rely on myself,” says Jess of the girls’ canoe trip in September. “I can transfer the learning from this trip back to the final stages of my Portage program and to life beyond. It taught me to be self-reliant, how to work as a team, and how to be independent.”
In addition to this canoe trip for the girls, the Outward Bound highlights of the past fall were a hiking trip for the boys and several outdoor climbing day trips for both the boys’ and the girls’ communities. As the cold weather arrived, the Outward Bound Coordinator moved the climbing program indoors and also introduced a dog-walking program at the local Humane Society.
In all the Outward Bound activities, as in the rehabilitation therapy provided at the centre, residents take responsibility for setting and working towards personal goals. They also learn to trust in others and to appreciate the importance of being involved in the community.
“I pushed through my trust issues and was there to support and help my peers conquer their own fears,” said Cassie of her rock climbing experience.
“During my Outward Bound canoeing trip, there were times when I got scared, frustrated, hurt, and sad – but I knew I had to do it, I had to push on,” said Caitlin. “So, when I finished, I really felt on top of the world. I never thought I could portage a canoe – it took a lot of work.”
Two dog sledding trips are taking place at the end of January. Last year’s dog sledding trips were very successful and the residents who will be participating this year are anxiously awaiting the opportunity. LINK TO ANNOUNCEMENT