TriCity Family Services Wilderness Challenge Program (WCP) is an annual eight-day canoeing and camping experience for up to thirty teens to prepare them for high school life.
The participation of teens selected for the program is made possible through scholarships subsidized primarily by donations from corporations, foundations and community organizations.
Modeled after the internationally renowned Outward Bound Program, the physical, mental and emotional challenges of the remote wilderness experience provide participants with character-building experiences.
These experiences also enhance the participants’ self-esteem, teach invaluable lessons about working within groups and encourage the development of inner resources needed to accomplish goals.
Teachable moments are ever-present. Whether the learning experiences are included in the daily schedule (e.g., morning and evening meetings at the campsite) or arise spontaneously (e.g. struggling through a difficult portage), staff constantly help participants appreciate how new found skills and confidence can help them function more effectively in their social, academic and family lives.
Annual evaluations of the program’s effectiveness indicate that the program consistently succeeds in helping participating teens: 1) develop their decision-making skills; 2) work cooperatively with others toward a common goal; and 3) learn to face new challenges with greater confidence.
The pre/post tests indicate that the majority of WCP graduates (approximately 90%) report that they have improved relationships with others, are more motivated to achieve in the school setting and are experiencing greater self-esteem.