A New Approach To Wilderness Programs
At Pacific Quest, we create life-changing experiences for struggling teenagers & young adults through outdoor therapeutic programs that help students learn to make better choices and live healthy, productive lives. We are an internationally recognized program serving families from all over the world going beyond traditional wilderness therapy and teaching sustainable life skills on the Big Island of Hawaii. Our Sustainable Growth™ approach establishes Pacific Quest as an innovative leader in treatment for troubled adolescents and young adults. Today, we are the most respected and innovative wilderness therapy program in the industry.
Every day we engage each student physically, mentally and emotionally. The various farm and camp roles provide a majority of the structure for our participants. As they move through each role, they experience leadership, teamwork, decision-making, problem solving, successes, failures and everything else that comes with living and working on an organic farm, both independently and in a family.
Horticulture, health and nutrition, Hawaiian culture and history, earth and physical sciences, communication and problem-solving skills, and more are all integrated into the program curriculum and provide a solid foundation for success.
The program is divided into three basic phases: Nalu (Reflection), Kuleana (Personal Responsibility), and Ohana (Family/Community).
At the Nalu camp, the goal is to ensure our participants’ health and safety. They must demonstrate good self-care and other basics such as food preparation and cleaning skills. For many, this is the first time they have spent alone getting to know themselves without distractions, family or friends; the nalu camp also allows a space for staff and students to learn about each other outside of the normal social pressures of adolescence. Reflecting on the past may be difficult at times but it provides insight and perspective helping students to refocus and assume personal responsibility for tasks and actions.
The Kuleana camp emphasizes personal responsibility. Participants begin to look at the world differently as their Awareness grows. They learn about different perspectives as they share more with staff and peers and participate in groups and exercises. They learn how their choices and actions have shaped who they are and the people around them. They learn about how the basic tasks they learned in Nalu are used to fulfill roles that serve the greater community and farm functioning. They practice these roles in small groups and meet goals to start working towards mastering of individual tasks. Students also complete their life stories in Kuleana, fully claiming the unique individual they are at this point in their lives and they strengths they possess that will support them in creating and acting out their new story in the Ohana.
The Hawaiian word for family, Ohana, is the name for the camp in which most students spend a majority of their time at the program. Ohana camps consists of small and closely monitored and facilitated groups of around 8-10 students who are invested in taking personal responsibility, creating goals, working hard, and challenging themselves and each other. These relationships change and evolve from mentored to mentor as each student works his or her way through the program. This provides amazing opportunities to develop healthy friendships, learn valuable life tools and practice healthy relationship skills. Each student is responsible for an important role in health and wellness, garden and nursery maintenance, scheduling, menu planning, food preparation, cooking, dishes, laundry and clean-up. The students are also in charge of the management of students’ duties and assignments, as well as reflecting on accountability and follow through of their peers, in relationship to personal and group goals. Increased participation in the farm and its responsibilities means that a well functioning Ohana can be run entirely by a student group, with the direct supervision and oversight of staff.
In every camp, students eat an 80% organic diet with about 20% coming from our own organic farm. The PQ menu has been developed and designed by our staff Naturopathic Doctor. Students eat fresh fruits and vegetables (greens, zucchini, spinach, tomatoes, carrots, herbs, papaya, banana, pineapple, avocado, etc.) and grains (rice, whole wheat pita, quinoa, pasta, etc.) and proteins (lentils, beans, fish, beef, cheese, nut butters, etc) and drink water as well as some homemade teas. Our students take pride in their cooking ability and make great use of our island, our farm and all of their ingredients. Most importantly, the Ohana provides a safe and supportive place for students to share their feelings, fears, hopes, frustrations, goals and passions within facilitated groups of their own peers. Our students provide excellent feedback to each other as they address specific issues, transitions, successes and failures.
While in the Ohana students prepare for their pinnacle Rite of Passage experience, a 2 day on-campus retreat, in which each individual marks the severance that they have reflected upon needing in nalu, the threshold of personal responsibility and claiming their unique story in kuleana, to begin to practice incorporating their gifts and strengths through every day goal setting in the ohana. This is a period of celebrating the best person that each student is in this moment in their lives, and claiming who they are through a statement of intent.
After completing their Rite of Passage experience, students are challenged to live each day with the intention they have stated in preparation as their personal guide, while they begin to prepare for transition, fill leadership roles and participate in ever increasing community service opportunities. Students incorporate new and newly discovered skills and awareness into their new leadership roles in the groups. Ohana camps are located closer to town, and focus on service, leadership and giving back, both to PQ and the greater community (malama). Students provide support and wisdom to newer PQ students, and perform community service such as beach clean-up, restoring native habitats, developing gardens at the local elementary school, and selling produce at the farmer’s market to donate to local youth programs. During the post rite of passage experience, we witness more depth of growth and a better understanding of how to use the important skills learned at PQ in a more “normalized” setting. The Malama (service and stewardship based) environment enhances our sustainable growth philosophy and the lasting success of our students.
To learn more about Pacific Quest, click here or call us at 808-937-5806.