Extreme Wilderness Therapy helps teenagers connect with life
Guided hikes for high school learners in some of Namibia’s most rugged areas are used as an effective therapeutic tool to teach teenagers valuable life skills. This activity is growing in popularity with a group of girls from Augustineum Secondary School completing the Fish River Canyon hike during the recent holidays.
The hikes are conducted by a charity outfit operating as Wilderness Therapy.
So far this year, four groups of boys from Augustineum Secondary School and Ella du Plessis Secondary School in Windhoek, from Suiderlig in Keetmanshoop and from Rehoboth High School completed hikes in the Naukluft, the Kuiseb and the Fish River
“We aim to enable the youth to achieve their highest potential as law-abiding citizens,” said Pikkie Hoffman, the Wilderness Therapy manager.
“The Wilderness Therapy programme helps young people understand who they are. Going on hiking trails separates the teenagers from the world known to them. We see this as the cleansing phase,” he said.
The physical exertion and the extreme environment bring the hikers to a point where they have to confront themselves. This process is monitored by the guides to determine at which point the teenagers need counselling.
“The hikers reflect on who they are, what happened to them, their behaviour and how it all affected them and others. Teenagers make life-changing decisions, let go of the past and destructive behaviour, and change for the better,” said Hoffman.
Mentorship sessions start immediately after the hikes. The mentorship part of the programmemay take from one to one and a half year. “Mentorship is imperative because it supports and guides teenagers to persist with the life-changing decisions they made during the hike.”
A boy who thoroughly appreciates the lessons he learned through Wilderness Therapy, Colin Katjingisiua said “The programme has strengthened me personally, socially, emotionally and spiritually. Hiking in extreme conditions taught me about the value of hard work and self-discipline.”
“Every decision I make determines my destination. Once you have reached a certain point you can not go back to the starting point. At Wilderness Therapy Namibia I learned that you should make vigilant decisions because it will determine your destination in life” he mused.
The organisation’s vision is to empower the youth to restore hope, peace, joy and purpose in the lives of youngsters so that they may become responsible people. The Wilderness Therapy Programme provides an opportunity for self-discovery and development through the custom-made therapeutic programme in the wild.