Summers are a special time for teenagers, when the rigidity of the school year falls away in favor of long, warm days with more freedom and fewer responsibilities. For many emerging adults, their first taste of independence comes in the summer, often away from home at summer camp.
Though the SEK experience has much in common with summer camp, it is really an intensive therapeutic experience designed to help teenagers work through major emotional and mental challenges. Young people at SEK experience the great outdoors among their peers, under the guidance of caring adults, just like they would at camp. But the SEK difference is evident in the way the days are structured. Every part of a day at SEK is built on the principles of integrity, responsibility, spirituality, and wellness.
Some of our daily activities, like hiking and a ropes course, may seem very familiar. Others, like farm-to-table nutrition, yoga, mindfulness and small group therapy are a distinctive upgrade from the standard summer camp experience. All of these activities are selected for their ability to unlock emotions teens may keep hidden away, and to foster healing from grief, stress, and trauma.
Every day, campers will experience shared meals and small group sessions. For teens who have a hard time engaging with their peers, these sessions are a great way to practice. Participants get to build up the “muscle” of empathy and openness that will allow them to foster positive relationships with others when they return to home life. Participants also pray each day, grounding them in faith and reminding them of what matters most.
Over the course of five days, we’ll build on this foundation with a wide variety of modalities that help teens process their emotions. Modalities include:
Psychodrama. Participants in psychodrama act out events from their past, role playing things they have experienced. They can get inside their own emotions, imagine the emotions of others, and literally rehearse new ways of behaving.
Art therapy. Someone who cannot put his or her emotions into words may be able to put them into a drawing or painting. Instead of relying on words and phrases, participants can use color and texture to communicate their inner world in a therapeutic setting.
Animal therapy, including equine therapy. Animals can bring out the very best in people. They are non-judgemental and yet responsive to even small changes in human behavior. By working with, and caring for, animals, participants get to practice recognizing the feelings of others and exercising compassion.
Team building. Healthy teens and adults know how to work with others to overcome challenges. A low ropes course presents physical challenges in a way that is safe, fun, and totally new to most participants. This modality exercises the body and the mind, while showing teens how very far they can go by working together.
Farm-to-table nutrition. A healthy life requires a nourished body. Participants will get to see how the richness of God’s creation can fuel a healthier life.
Agriculture therapy. Campers will literally get their hands dirty as they engage in the day-to-day tasks of life on a farm. This teaches self-confidence, responsibility, and the joy of the outdoors through the antique techniques taught from planting seeds.
Mindfulness and yoga. Mindfulness is the practice of being fully present in the moment and acknowledging your feelings, evaluating them with maturity. Yoga adds a physical element to mindfulness, fostering greater levels of focus and inner peace.
Dialectical behavioral therapy. Dialectical behavioral therapy uses tools like mindfulness to put participants in control of their emotions.
Some of these activities are probably things your child has never tried before. This is intentional, and a good thing! Part of the magic of farmlife therapy is introducing new experiences. By breaking teens out of their normal routines, they can break away from their normal thought patterns. When your camper comes home from SEK, he or she will have developed new friendships, new skills, and new coping mechanisms to better support their daily lives.