Category: Second Nature Utah Reviews

Reconnecting with Nature After Wilderness Therapy

Second Nature Utah Reviews

Utah is home to spectacular natural wonders that most people don’t expect to find in a desert environment. There are numerous, awe-inspiring attractions where people can connect to nature. Places such as Mirror Lake, Canyonlands National Park, Zion National Park, Great Salt Lake, and Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument are some of the highlights, and are discussed in further detail below.

Additionally, Second Nature Utah reviews how individuals who participated in wilderness therapy, and have developed a love for nature, can continue to find solace in the natural wonders of Utah’s landscape.

Utah’s Best Destinations for Connecting to Nature

As five of Utah’s most spectacular natural destinations, the following locations are sure to encourage the development or strengthening of a reconnection to nature in every individual who experiences them. Keep in mind, these are just a handful of sites the Utah landscape has to offer, there is so much more to see, do and experience in Utah.

Mirror Lake

Mirror Lake is one of the state’s hidden gems. It isn’t a typical tourist area, and its seclusion makes it even more wonderful to experience on a solo trip. Its still waters, magnificent tree line, and mountain views ensure that every individual that steps foot on its shore will immediately feel like they belong there. This is one of the most ideal locations for bonding with nature, meditating, and finding peace.

Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park is home to both The Needles and Island in the Sky. These tourist attractions are 100% natural and do nothing if not inspire. Canyon overlooks, hiking trails, and off-roading opportunities are plentiful here; everyone can find joy in this park no matter what form their adventurous spirit takes. Forming a lifelong connection to nature is one of the many perks of visiting.

Zion National Park

Zion National Park is the place where adventurers go to soothe their restless spirits. With countless opportunities for hiking and canyoneering at every experience level, this national park is a premium destination for developing an all-encompassing appreciation for nature. This tourist destination combines expansive blue skies, plenty of greenery, and slot canyons; is there a better combination of natural elements anywhere else?

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Great Salt Lake

Great Salt Lake is a unique, and special destination: it is the largest saltwater lake throughout the entirety of the western hemisphere. Its salinity (salt content) is even higher than that of the Pacific Ocean. This makes it perfect for swimming and other water-based activities. The wildlife and sandy beaches ensure that every visitor will want to stay forever: it is a place of restoration, inner-connectivity, and awareness of micro-habitats.

Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument

Grand Staircase gets its name for its natural staircase presence that is composed of several plateaus at various elevations between Bryce Canyon and Grand Canyon. At the site of each drop from one plateau to the next, the rock wall features a snapshot of history. Originally home to Native Americans, this monument encompasses 5 different ecosystems; its an awe-inspiring spot to re-connect with oneself, and the world around them.

Final Thoughts

Whether one, or all of these five destinations end up on a must-see list, it will be impossible for those looking to reconnect with the world, and find healing and inner peace not fall in love with the beauty and nature that Utah provides.

Teens and Their Screens: The Addiction is Real

Second Nature Utah Reviews

Most people in the developed world have some sort of device — smartphones, tablets, computers, TVs, and other technologies run rampant in daily lives. But is society, especially teenagers, actually addicted to technology?

Second Nature Utah reviews that it is a commonly debated subject within the scientific community. And there’s a pretty even split about whether screen addiction (sometimes known as tech addiction) is actually real.

Opposing Opinions on Screen Addiction

Interestingly, technology addiction didn’t appear in the latest Diagnostic Statistical Manual, a journal that shapes therapists’ understanding of patients and outlines conditions covered by insurers.

However, gaming disorder was referenced as a condition due to addictive behaviors by the World Health Organization. And Dr. Nicholas Kardaras authored Glow Kids: How Screen Addiction is Highjacking Our Kids in 2016.

Dr. Kardaras mentioned that he’d treated countless teens who were so involved with video games that they fail to go to the bathroom. He also notes that brain-imaging studies of screen time impacts display similar patterns to those with other addictions, concluding that technology addiction could be a genuine condition, especially among the world’s youth.

Teens’ Problematic Usage of Screens

An Iowa State University researcher, Dr. Douglas Gentile, noted that addiction (characterized as dysfunction in various aspects of life, so much so that it achieves clinical significance) to technological use does seem to exist.

However, scientists are still unsure whether media genuinely creates physical dependencies and alters the brain.

Furthermore, some clinicians have postulated that screen overuse should be considered a symptom of another condition, like depression, ADHD, or anxiety.

More recent studies, particularly Development and Validation of The Problematic Media Use Measure: A Parent Report of Screen Media ‘Addiction’ in Children, have decided that whether a teenager has a problem with technology can’t be measured purely on screen time. Instead, it must look at the individual’s relationship to it and its effects on the rest of their life.

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Treatment for Screen Addiction in Teenagers

Tech addiction isn’t officially recognized in the USA. However, some in-patient treatment establishments for teens try to address the concern.

Teenagers who’ve spent time in wilderness treatment programs have noted that their focus and demeanor changed, alongside finding better ways to confront their problems, and enhancing social skills.

Although, the term “addict” doesn’t sit well with many mental health practitioners. They believe problematic technology usage in teenagers should be considered a habit, prompting change, rather than an addiction, which could damage their identity-forming process.

How Adults Can Prevent Teens from Falling Into the Tech Trap

Adults should look at ways to stop teens from getting to the screen “addiction” phase. Of course, this is easier said than done, but there are a few valuable suggestions.

Encouraging creativity is a massive step in the right direction. Whether it’s cooking, crafts, business, reading, painting, writing, or drawing, it will work wonders to limit tech time.

Spending time outside without devices is also essential for helping modern-day teenagers avoid the nagging pull of video games and social media.

Ultimately, implementing stricter technology rules in the home will give teens a fighting chance at avoiding problematic screen usage.

How Wilderness Therapy Can Be the Gap-Filler Between Other Therapeutic Modalities

As a wilderness-based therapy, Second Nature Utah provides teens and young adults with safe, effective therapeutic modalities to treat many common disorders teens today may face.

From self-esteem to substance abuse, on-trail intensives combined with nature-based activities and counseling help these young people on their journey to overcome addiction to become responsible adults. Below, Kate Smith and Patrick Burns recount their experiences at the facility.

Kate Smith was a teenager with a history of truancy and petty theft when she passed out at school due to her struggle with substance abuse. Her school contacted police, and Kate ended up in the emergency room for the fifth time that year, with another arrest on her record.

“We were going to have to do something dramatic,” said Kate’s mom. Her father added, “It was clear that treatment we previously sought was not working.”

That “something dramatic” was three months of Second Nature Wilderness Family Therapy. The treatment and therapy that Kate received there was able to give Kate and her family the help and healing they needed.

Patrick Burns is another success story for the program. At the time of Patrick’s tipping point, he was only 14 years old. Burns acknowledges that the wilderness therapy modalities saved his life.

And he’s not wrong. There is clear, empirical evidence that wilderness therapy works, and can be the saving grace that many distressed teens unknowingly need.

Wilderness Therapy at a Glance

Wilderness therapy is a form of residential treatment that provides intensive, specialized care to young people—in a nature-based outdoor setting.

There are more than a hundred wilderness therapy programs across the US. Between them they serve over 10,000 clients—typically between the ages of 13 and 18—each year.

Nature-based therapy “fills the gap between the various other therapeutic modalities available to young people that need additional support”.

This gap-filler is sometimes used in conjunction with, or replacement of additional therapeutic techniques such as boarding schools and residential treatment centers. Multiple family members have expressed gratitude and appreciation for what Second Nature Utah has done for their siblings, children, and families as a whole.

What Wilderness Therapy Can Treat

Wilderness Therapy is often used to help young people cope with the increasing pressures they feel from society, as well as ongoing problematic issues like low self-esteem, recklessness, peer pressure, and behavioral challenges.

Due to its varied modality structures, it is also effectively used to help young people deal with:

  • Anxiety
  • Trauma
  • Depression
  • Eating disorders
  • ADD and OCD
  • Substance abuse

What Wilderness Therapy Involves

Second Nature’s therapeutic modalities incorporate outdoor experiences, on-trail intensives as well as traditional therapy sessions and parent coaching.

The program is able to provide an encouraging and understanding environment for self-discovery. While building relationships, learning one’s capacity for strength and self-reliance during on-trail intensives help to build a young person’s self-worth and self-esteem.

Clients are placed in an environment where they can learn skills, work through challenges, enable growth and increase self-esteem.

Programs like these can also offer families a way to rebuild after trauma developing stronger bonds.

Modalities Used

Techniques will vary depending on the focus of treatment. However, the more common approaches include:

  • On-trail intensives
  • Hiking
  • Primitive Fire making
  • Group and individual therapy session with a licensed mental health counselor
  • Parent programs
  • Conference calls
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A 2016 study showed that a combination of group activities, being away from the home environment, building success in outdoor settings, and overcoming physically challenging tasks improved short-term mental health outcomes for teens.

Likewise, multiple additional studies found significant positive outcomes for those involved in wilderness and adventure therapy.

One study in Australia showed that a ten-week wilderness therapy program improved psychosocial and behavioral issues, and that participants demonstrated improved resilience and self-esteem in future social situations.

Hand in hand with the effectiveness of this new breed of wilderness therapy is improved safety. Trouble American youth are twice as likely to end up in an emergency room due to unsafe behavior than a wilderness therapy participant.

For parents concerned about the safety of their child during outdoor wilderness therapy, recent figures released showed that the average rate of injury is less than 1 per 1,000 participants. These injuries have also been reported to be minor, participants are never left without supervision, and have 24/7 access to emergency medical facilities.

And what about the people that have gone through these programs?

According to Kate Smith, the teen that needed dramatic change… she can see the benefits of her wilderness therapy as an adult. With the benefit of hindsight, both she and her parents feel they made the right choice.

“I don’t know where I would be today if my parents did not find Second Nature Utah.”

Patrick Burns now specializes in working with children in an educational placement setting. He works with wilderness therapy providers regularly.

With his personal experience in wilderness therapy, he feels it has become his life’s work to help “kids like him” in need. In his own words:

“Wilderness therapy does three things very well: it assesses issues, helps young people develop coping strategies, and emerge with a more positive sense of self. Without wilderness therapy, I would not be here today. Thank you to Second Nature and those who dedicated their lives to guide me on a renewed life journey, and delivered an experience that made me a better individual.”

Second Nature Welcomes New Parent Coordinator, Raegan McClymont

Second Nature Utah welcomed Raegan McClymont to their team back in the fall of 2021. As a highly respected member of the crew, Raegan was given the opportunity to transfer into the Family Programming Department, earning her the Parent Coordinator title.

As a coordinator, she is dedicated to providing the highest standard of care to the parents and families of students participating in Second Nature’s wilderness therapy program.

About Raegan McClymont

Growing up in Pennsylvania, Raegan attributes her fondest childhood moments to the nature of the West. She believes her outdoor adventures led to extremely positive personal growth as a young child.

These powerful experiences ultimately led to her achieving an undergraduate degree in Adventure Education. Leadership, communication, and group dynamic skills were all part of the course, alongside learning various outdoor living techniques.

To prove her dedication to the cause, Raegan McClymont even spent a semester studying at the National Outdoor Leadership School. And unsurprisingly, she continued to fall more deeply in love with the West’s stunning nature.

Raegan enjoys snowboarding and rock climbing in her free time and hopes to explore Utah’s ethereal wilderness in the coming year.

From Field Instructor to Parent Coordinator

While conducting extracurricular education at the National Outdoor Leadership School, Raegan heard about Second Nature Utah.

Naturally, the program spoke to her, and she began working as a Field Instructor in late 2021.

Her favorite parts of the job were actively engaging in challenging discussions and developing a deep understanding of the student’s life stories. And, of course, laughing with them daily was thoroughly rewarding.

However, as January 2022 rolled around, Raegan transferred to the Family Programming Department, becoming Parent Coordinator.

The Parent Coordinator Role

As Parent Coordinator, Raegan helps to welcome new families to Second Nature and introduces them to their new resources. Raegan also helps to facilitate parent day and overnight visits as well as the Second Nature family Intensive program.

She provides high-quality, sensitive care to parents and the rest of the students’ families, ensuring everybody progresses toward the same goal.

Her role can be boiled down to two main factors — communication and connection.
While the adolescent is the individual receiving the wilderness therapy, the entire experience becomes a vessel for family intimacy and cohesion.

The Parent Coordinator and other staff members facilitate communication as the initial step in reconnecting family units. Both after and during the program, parents and students report feeling closer, thanks to the continued efforts of the new Parent Coordinator, Educators, Therapists, and Field Instructors.

Raegan ensures ultimate efficacy by coordinating parents’ visits with the rest of the team, ensuring the students are informed of their arrival and are comfortable with their progress.

She works closely with the whole group as well as individually with parents for an all-encompassing view of the situation.

It seems Raegan’s experience as a Field Instructor has stood her in great stead for the sometimes-demanding yet always-rewarding role of Parent Coordinator.

The future is bright for Raegan McClymont, Second Nature’s newest Parent Coordinator, and all the families lucky enough to meet her.

Teen Wilderness Therapy – Nomadic vs Basecamp vs Adventuring Programs

Wilderness therapy is an interactive and engaging approach to mental healthcare designed to help teens become successful adults. Its focus on outdoor engagement helps teens learn healthy coping mechanisms while participating in group activities, learning survival skills, and experiencing self-growth outside the confines of modern life. There are currently three main styles of wilderness therapy, each with their own approaches and benefits.

Although all three styles of wilderness therapy get teens out of their usual environments and into the great outdoors, they’re unique in their scope. Second Nature Wilderness discusses nomadic, basecamp, and adventuring programs and explains what makes them effective therapeutic techniques.

Second Nature Wilderness Family Therapy

Nomadic Wilderness Therapy

Nomadic wilderness therapy is designed to make group members work together to become as self-sufficient as possible. Teens are expected to pack their own backpacks and prepare for the entire duration of the expedition. Yet, they must work together to cook food, prepare shelters, and provide for the group’s benefits.

As best as can be, the teens and their supervisors remain as cut off from society as they can until the program ends. Therapists drive out to conduct formal group sessions before leaving again until the next week. Therefore, it’s up to the instructors and staff to provide much of the ongoing therapeutic treatment.

Basecamp Wilderness Therapy

With basecamp wilderness therapy, participants have a home base that they return to once a week. Here, they can take part in more traditional therapy sessions, get a good night’s sleep in a comfortable bed, and enjoy some of the modern luxuries they’re accustomed to—showers, hot meals, and the wonders of the Internet.

During the rest of the week, though, they’re out in the wilderness completing group activities, learning survival skills, and working on their interpersonal relationships. Because they return to basecamp every week, there’s no need for them to be as self-sufficient as with a nomadic program. Yet, they’re still expected to develop healthy social skills needed to work together.

Second Nature Wilderness Family Therapy

Adventuring Wilderness Therapy

Adventuring wilderness therapy is a style that focuses on challenge and adventure. Participants are typically engaged in more strenuous activities, such as rock climbing, whitewater rafting, and skiing. The goal is to help participants push their limits and learn to cope with difficult situations.

Adventuring programs are typically shorter in duration than the other two styles of wilderness therapy. This is because the activities are more intense and require more supervision. As such, there’s less time for traditional therapy sessions.

Picking the Right Wilderness Therapy Program

The right wilderness therapy program for your teen will depend on their needs and preferences. If they’re struggling with substance abuse, anxiety, or depression for example, a nomadic program may be best. For others, a basecamp program that includes traditional therapy sessions may be more beneficial.

No matter what style of wilderness therapy you choose, the goal is to help your teen grow and thrive. With the right program, they can learn the skills they need to become successful adults and manage heavy emotions, interpersonal conflict, suicidal ideation, and addiction.

Final Thoughts on Wilderness Therapy

Wilderness therapy is a beneficial approach to mental healthcare that can help your teen become a successful adult. Although there are three main styles of wilderness therapy, each offers its own benefits, and the right program could help your teen overcome ongoing mental illness.

The Lingering Effects of COVID-19 on Students

For the most part, it seems as if the COVID-19 pandemic has reached its conclusion. Yet, many of its effects are still visible throughout the nation. While doctors may talk about long-term COVID symptoms, educators have noticed a sizeable difference in their students after returning from online classes. Mainly, their test scores are down, and their grades are suffering.

After more than a year of studying online, it seems as if students have forgotten how to learn in a real-world environment. Second Nature Utah reviews the lingering consequences of COVID and how a necessary shift away from traditional learning styles may have caused some damage to many students’ grades.

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Test Scores are Statistically Lower on Average

According to data collected by the Brookings Institute, national math scores are down between 0.20 and 0.27 standard deviations among the nation’s primary and middle school students. Although these two numbers may seem relatively small, they are actually quite large when considering the distribution of test scores. This data suggests that, on average, COVID-19 has caused students’ scores to drop more than any event in recent history.

In addition to lower test scores, many students are also struggling to maintain good grades in their classes. High schools in Houston, Texas reported a major increase in the number of students earning at least one F grade during the fall of 2020, up to nearly 50%. Since returning to school, though, their grades have not improved.

Now, many high school students worry that they’ll be unable to attend colleges or universities because they’re under-prepared and unable to take the SAT, ACT, or any other standardized test used to place incoming students.

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Low-Income and Minority Children Continue to Suffer the Worst

During the pandemic, it became excruciatingly clear that demographic differences were affecting lower-income and minority children’s ability to study online. According to a report from the American Educational Research Association, Hispanic and Black students were less likely to have access to a computer at home, compared to nearly 95% of White students.

This difference in access to technology meant that many students were unable to attend online classes, complete assignments, or take part in necessary activities to succeed in school. Resultingly, their grades have suffered tremendously. In fact, Hispanic and Black students were more likely to receive an F grade in at least one class and they were also more likely to have their GPAs dip below a 2.0.

What’s more, these students are also less likely to have access to the resources they need to improve their grades. For example, they’re less likely to have a tutor, or to be able to afford one. This perfect storm of factors has resulted in Hispanic and Black students struggling more than any other group to overcome the setbacks of lost learning during the pandemic.

The Bottom Line

When we talk about the effects of COVID-19, it’s easy to be blinded by the economics and social politics but there’s no way to avoid the evidence that nearly two years of online classes have drastically harmed our children’s education. For now, school boards must work around the clock to reverse the losses and help underprivileged students regain their footing at school.