Our program at Life of Purpose includes adventure therapy, a process in which clients participate in various adventures in a safe and controlled environment. All adventure activities share an element of perceived and/or actual risk. A professional leads clients through trust-building activities that promote communication, challenge their minds, stimulate their brains, and get clients out of their day-to-day environment.
When clients travel to a third world country to see other cultures who live in extreme poverty, it brings a newfound appreciation of our lifestyle in the United States which leads to a more humble attitude in everyday life.
One day during a brainstorming session, myself and Matt Koven came up with the idea to share our passion for travel and adventure with Life of Purpose’s clients. The goal of this program is to facilitate growth through education and travel experience while in long-term recovery. These travel trips can be used as part of the therapeutic process involved in recovery. By challenging clients to try outdoor activities of all kinds, this reinforces how enjoyable life can be while in recovery – and that recovery can be just plain awesome! Traveling has proven to expand a person’s knowledge of different cultures, ethnic backgrounds, and how they perceive the world. When clients travel to a third world country to see other cultures who live in extreme poverty, it brings a newfound appreciation of our lifestyle in the United States which leads to a more humble attitude in everyday life.
Our most recent trip to Puerto Sandino, Nicaragua, was a spiritual adventure complete with surfing, offshore fishing, volcano hiking/boarding, and much more. We arrived in Nicaragua early Friday morning to a beautiful but impoverished nation. After a long drive packed in a foreign minivan, we were glad to arrive at the resort to catch some shut eye. Upon waking in the morning we were overwhelmed by the surrounding beauty consisting of jungle plant life, animals, and a turquoise-blue Pacific Ocean. Every color flower you can imagine grew uncontrollably between every path and walkway.
The first day, we rented surfboards and began surf lessons. Clients paddled out into the ocean to get a taste of the Nicaragua’s west coast swell. The challenge of learning something new coupled with being in a stunning environment seemed to fire everyone up. It was truly amazing to see clients work together and offer each other tips they had picked up. Through their combined efforts and failed attempts, they were each able to stand up and catch some waves! We think it’s important to recognize how beneficial it was for clients to step out of their comfort zone in the real world, which contributed to the therapeutic process.
Clients spoke about gratitude for getting sober knowing that if they had never taken this path in life, the opportunity to travel like this was unlikely to happen.
After a long day in the sun, we gathered before dinner to watch the sunset over the Pacific and take a moment to appreciate where we were. We talked about how lucky we were to have the ability to see the world outside of where we live. Clients spoke about gratitude for getting sober knowing that if they had never taken this path in life, the opportunity to travel like this was unlikely to happen.
On the second day, we woke up early and took a motor-taxi to a nearby village to go fishing. We arrived and walked down the beach to meet our guide and his first mate. After hopping into a small boat known as a “panga”, we proceeded to make our way out to sea. The journey proved to be a little nerve wracking at first, as we had to travel from a canal-inlet, through rough seas into the Pacific. The five of us saw the waves crashing and admittedly, felt concerned that this little boat was not going to make it out. Our guide, however, remained calm and navigated the breaking waves like a champ who had done it a thousand times before. We came home that afternoon with five snappers that our generous host offered to fry up for lunch. Needless to say, it was one of the best meals we had on our entire trip. We spent the rest of the day surfing at the beach and relaxing in the hammocks.
Our next day, we planned an excursion that we were all looking forward to. In the nearby city of León, adventurists offer tours of an active volcano. The five of us piled into the back of an open truck and traveled through a thick forest over a dirt road to the base of the Cerro Negro Volcano. The hike up to the top offered stunning views of the country and a chance for us to really take in the scenery. Now, instead of walking down, our tour guide offered a different alternative that she referred to as “volcano boarding.” Essentially, they use a piece of plywood to sled down a 700-meter hill made of dirt and gravel. From the top looking down, most of us were pretty nervous, but by the time we met up at the base, everyone was covered in dust and smiling through the grit. The final day was spent surfing, relaxing, and decompressing. We collectively agreed that we did not want to leave this paradise.
Existing research on adventure therapy reports positive outcomes in affectively improving self-concept and self-esteem, help-seeking behavior, increased mutual aid, pro-social behavior, and trust behavior.
Existing research on adventure therapy reports positive outcomes in affectively improving self-concept and self-esteem, help-seeking behavior, increased mutual aid, pro-social behavior, and trust behavior. At Life of Purpose, we believe this is crucial to the therapeutic process in order to maximize performance. The benefits of achieving this include an increase in productivity, an easier time adapting to change, getting more comfortable pushing your boundaries, and increased brainstorming and creativity.
Adventure therapy trips at Life of Purpose continue to promote positive behavior and help clients promote communication, challenge their minds, stimulate their brains, and gets clients out of their day-to- day environment. Our team of experts provide a premium level of care during these activities to ensure a safe and healthy learning environment. For more information about our program, click here.
Words and photographs by Matt Koven and Bret Sullivan, BS.