V.I.T.A.L. Wilderness School
The Wilderness School is a program offered by the State of Connecticut Department of Children and Families (DCF). The Wilderness School is a Positive Youth Development Program For teens and young adults aged 13 and up:
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Try something new, challenge yourself with support, connect to yourself and peers, develop skills for self-reliance, communication, working with others, handling responsibility, and belonging to a group.
The "Nature" of Programming: The Wilderness School uses wilderness adventure programming to support teens in making positive and lasting changes in their lives. Students are generally identified as needing extra support. Wilderness School courses are provided on a spectrum of challenge and difficulty to serve youth who demonstrate various levels of “readiness” and ability. Student needs are met through an array of services that consider duration of programming (from 1 to 20 days), proximity to roads and amenities vs. wilderness, intensity of activities, and staff to student ratios. Courses are designed to foster belonging.
Activities are group oriented and include rock climbing, hiking, canoeing, ropes course/challenge course (like a "zip-line"), wilderness camping, service projects, solo experience, 8.5 mile “marathon run,” cross-country skiing, snow-shoeing, winter-camping, and team-building. Students ultimately must choose to attend Wilderness School programs.
Wilderness School‘s core program is the Expedition. Students, with Instructors, travel and camp for up to 20-days while working and living together, building wilderness skills, and confronting course activities along with weather and other environmental challenges (like bugs!). Students do not stay in cabins or eat in a cafeteria. Students are responsible for cooking, cleaning, maintaining hygiene, and taking care of all equipment while existing, traveling, and working together in a wilderness setting. Wilderness School is a school and not a traditional camp or “boot camp”; students are supported and expected to develop the skills required to live as a group, achieve personal goals, and participate through each program and activity (Most expeditions are 5 or 20 days in length).
- The Wilderness School is a prevention, intervention, and transition program for adolescents from Connecticut.
- The Wilderness School offers high impact wilderness programs year-round ranging in length from 1-day programs to 20-Day Expeditions!
- Activities include hiking, camping, rock climbing, canoeing, high ropes course experiences, winter programming, and service learning.
- Wilderness School programs emphasize team-building, peer relations, self-reliance, responsibility, improved self-concept, and conflict resolution.