HEROIC JOURNEY is a unique 7 day experience funded and delivered in partnership with Outward Bound, and is specifically designed for teens coping with the death of a loved one. It is not intended to be “counseling” or “therapy”. It is about teens connecting and building supportive relationships with other teens going through similar challenges in life. At its essence, it is wilderness adventure sprinkled with light grief work activities.
Click below to watch a video from the 2008 Heroic Journey
To Enroll Today click here call 866-467-7644
The challenges and successes that come with climbing, rappelling, and hiking up mountains, are metaphors for life and the kids get it. By adding some grief related rituals, and ceremonies that appeal to the teens, they are moved to express themselves in ways that they typically can’t, or won’t, when they are back at home in their everyday surroundings.
The program began three years ago when Jason Stout, and Melyssa Levin, a Judi’s House Program Coordinator, accompanied seven teens from our grief support group on an Outward Bound course. At the time, Jason was an Outward Bound employee and volunteering in his spare time at Judi’s House. The idea for this course was inspired by his own death loss experiences and his passion for Outward Bound and wilderness adventure.
The first two years were deemed a huge success by the professional staff at Judi’s House and more importantly by the families. So much so, that Brian Griese agreed to help me make this available to grieving kids from throughout the Denver Metro area, Colorado, and the United States. We announced the national program only months ago and we already have 125 participants enrolled and more on our waitlist. Meanwhile, Brian has been tirelessly fundraising $150,000 to pay for the program and insists on providing all of the kids with full-tuition scholarships.
Because of the combined effort of all involved, this summer, 125 grieving teens, from all over country will meet in the Colorado Rockies where they will discover their inner strength, face their fears, and experience the support of other kids dealing with the death of a loved one. Teens that have had a parent, sibling, friend, or family member die, from cancer, heart disease, auto crash, homicide, suicide, etc. will spend 7 days, climbing, rappelling, swinging from trees, and ascending 14,000 foot peaks.
One night, camping on the Yampa River, we sat in a big circle. As the sun went down we passed the large “sacred bowl” around for the “Water Ceremony.” The sacred bowl was filled with “mystical water” and a “magical ladle”. As we passed it around, each person would take a scoop of water, and then pour it into a smaller sacred bowl. As we all poured the water with the magical ladle, we were to share a message to our loved ones. “Dad, I miss going to Coors Field with you and watching the Rockies play”. “Mom, I miss the smell of French toast in the house”. “I’m sorry I was mean to you”, “Dad, thank you for giving me your sense of humor. I miss your sense of humor.”
It was a powerful activity and more than half of us were crying. Once we all shared our messages, one of the teens grabbed the sacred bowl, now filled with messages, and poured it into the mighty Yampa River. The messages were then released to meander through the mountains and desert until they met the ocean, and there the messages would be delivered to the people we lost. After the water was gently poured into the river, the teens gathered on the sandy bank, and stood shoulder to shoulder, in silence, as the sun went down watching their messages mix with the waters of the Yampa. Minutes later, the water of their tears turned to laughter and smiles. For some it was the first time we had ever seen a sigh of happiness. The power of wilderness, being with people who share our pain and a good grief activity can make a world of difference in a kid who is suffering.