Reaching out for help doesn't mean you are failing or what you have been doing is wrong. We all need support or fresh ideas at times. Sometimes the smallest tweak or new idea can mean all the difference between struggling and flourishing, or the difference between a happy successful teenager and a struggling one. You don't have to do it alone, we are here to help you.
We provide support to youth and their families through school holiday camps, parent and child weekends, wilderness adventures, workshops, and personalised coaching support. Our camps are much more than a fun babysitting service for the holidays; and we are not a military style boot camp even though many of our instructors are ex-military. Our goal is to combine evidence based 'life skills' education with adventure in a way that encourages maximum participation. Just because the topics are serious we don't have to make the delivery method boring - they get enough of that at school. Browse the site and follow us on social media, take what you can from our experience, we hope you find some real value in our content and one day we will see you at one of our activities.
People often don't understand their emotions and often see them as being wrong - which is untrue. If we are self-aware our emotions are great sources of information and internal feedback. If we are not self-aware and not able to manage our thoughts and emotions effectively we can fall into an emotional cycle which overwhelms us and results in inappropriate behaviours.
When participants on our program become emotional we get them to name the emotion, we then let them know that it is ok to be angry, sad, or upset, and we then get them to talk about what they feel is the underlying cause of the emotion. We educate them in the fact that things like anger are a secondary emotion often caused by other underlying emotions (frustration, fear, anxiety) and instead of trying to fight the emotion they need to work out how they can better 'manage', or eliminate the cause of the emotions.
Another aspect of emotional regulation is understanding our own thoughts about events which happen in our life. Events around us don't directly cause the emotions; our emotion comes from the thoughts or beliefs we attach to the event. This is typical Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) approach and whilst we don't get into CBT with the participants we do educate them to become more self aware around their triggers, thoughts, feelings, and behaviours and how they impact each other.
And finally we help them to understand the importance of being able to identify emotions of other people, and how they let themselves become impacted by the emotions of other people around them.
We give them tasks and challenges which they feel may be slightly outside of their own comfort zone but we know they can achieve with little support. Once they achieve that task we can then slowly reduce our support and increase the difficulty of the tasks. Once the ball is rolling we can stand back, cheer them on, and watch their self-confidence grow. Not only does it build their self-confidence, it also makes them more resilient.
Resilience is about having the mental capacity to bounce back from failures, setbacks, obstacles, and challenges in our lives. Many people confuse resilience with GRIT, which is having the motivational drive to keep pushing through on a task until it's completion and is often linked to self-control (Angela Duckworth).
Part of the problem is that many kids, teens, and adults have been raised to believe that in order to be 'equal and fair' nobody fails and everyone wins a prize - and that is simply not true. The reality is the world is not fair or equal, we are all playing a different game at different levels, people fail all the time, not everyone wins a prize - AND THAT IS OK.
We aim to start the education process and teach them that failure, obstacles, challenges, and setbacks are a perfectly normal part of life. We set challenges and tasks for the participants so that they will fail (in a gentle way) - we then observe how they react to the failure and guide them along a better path. A better path includes management of their emotions, looking for the learning points in the failure, putting the failure into perspective, and then using what they have learnt in order to do things different and repeat the process until they find some degree of success.
And finally when they do succeed we don't just recognise the success - we must also recognise and celebrate the hard work, resilience, grit, and self-control that was responsible for their success. "WOW - I am really impressed with how you kept working through all the setbacks and challenges required to get that great result".
"Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm"– Winston Churchill
Youth development can be defined as:
A process that prepares a young person to meet the challenges of adolescence and adulthood and achieve his or her full potential. It is promoted through activities and experiences that help youth develop social, ethical, emotional, physical, and cognitive competencies. NASET
The stages that all children go through to acquire the attitudes, competencies, values, and social skills they need to become successful adults (Hamilton, Hamilton, & Pittman, 2004).
It is said that development leads to the “Five Cs”: competence, character, connections, confidence, and contribution (Pittman, Irby, Tolman, Yohalem, & Ferber, 2002)
Pittman, K., Irby, M., Tolman, J., Yohalem, N., & Ferber, T. (2002). Preventing problems, promoting development, encouraging engagement: Competing priorities or inseparable goals? Washington, DC: Forum for Youth Investment.
Hamilton, S.F., Hamilton, M.A., & Pittman, K. (2004). Principles for Youth Development. In S.F. Hamilton & M.A. Hamilton (Eds.) 2004, The Youth Development Handbook: Coming of Age in American Communities (pp.3-22). Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications, Inc.
The following list is an excerpt from the book 'Community Programs to Promote Youth Development' and shares a comprehensive list of areas in which come together to promote a youth who is flourishing in society. It is important when working with youth that we focus on all areas of their development to ensure we spend time to highlight and promote those ares of their life which are working and not only focus on those which are not.
• Good health habits
• Good health risk management skills
• Knowledge of essential life skills
• Knowledge of essential vocational skills
• School success
• Rational habits of mind-critical thinking and reasoning skills
• In-depth knowledge of more than one culture
• Good decision-making skills
• Knowledge of skills needed to navigate through multiple cultural contexts
• Good mental health, including positive self-regard
• Good emotional self-regulation skills
• Good coping skills
• Good conflict resolution skills
• Mastery motivation and positive achievement motivation
• Confidence in one’s personal efficacy
• “Planfulness” – planning for the future and future life events
• Sense of personal autonomy/responsibility for self
• Optimism coupled with realism
• Coherent and positive personal and social identity
• Pro-social and culturally sensitive values
• Spirituality or a sense of a “larger” purpose in life
• Strong moral character
• A commitment to good use of time
• Connected with a perceived good relationships and trust with parents, peers an some other adults
• Sense of social place/integration-being connected and valued by larger social networks
• Attachment to pro-social/conventional institutions, such as school, church, non-school youth programs
• Ability to navigate in multiple cultural contexts
• Commitment to civic engagement
National Research Council and Institute of Medicine (2002). Community Programs to Promote Youth Development. National Academies Press, Washington, D.C. LINK
Here are 10 questions you should always ask when looking for a program for your teenager. Some of these will be looked at in more detail in future blog posts but for a quick reference here are they are:
1 - What qualifications, skills, experience does your staff have with regards to outdoor recreation, fitness training, coaching, counselling, first aid, and working with youth and supporting their development?
2- Does the program use any evidence based theory to guide its approach and the various methods used on the program?
3 - Are the staff free from diagnosed psychological disorders? For example in military boot camps are the veterans free from psychological disorders such as PTSD which may cause negative transference, or impact their ability to operate in a psychologically stressful environment.
4 - What is the instructor to participant ratio? This should not include support staff, only the instructional staff who are face-to-face with the participants and that is their primary role. Some camps count their operational staff and other support staff in their ratio and this can mean the instructional staff are not getting adequate rest.
5 - Has the program been independently evaluated? Or are there plans to have it done in the near future?
6 - Are staff required to undergo ongoing skills training, if so what is it and how regularly?
7 - How do they manage a child that is not responding to the program?
8 - Can you see a comprehensive risk assessment and actions on (operating procedures) for the program?
9 - Does the company follow up with participants and their parents to ensure their practices used on the programs are effective, or need changing?
10 - How do you involve parents and external support into the program to ensure ongoing success?
Whilst it is impossible for any program to give guaranteed results (if they do then they are lying) it is prudent of parents to know exactly what they are getting for their investment and what their child will be exposed too. Even if the program doesn't work for the child there is an ethical and legal obligation under the 'duty of care' to ensure every reasonable step is taken to ensure 'no harm' is done - physically and psychologically.
No matter if you choose one of our programs or something else I wish you the very best success in finding something which works for you.
Coaching is not a one session fix all - it takes time to change our self-limiting habits and beliefs. Our coaching packages which include 1 on 1 sessions, camps, collaboration groups, and online support are designed to nudge you along your preferred path via small incremental changes over a period of time, and will by far give you the greatest return on your investment.
KAIZEN - small incremental changes over time towards success.
Personalised coaching for teenagers, parents, and families seeking to improve their quality of life....
Three hour 'unstoppable' workshop coming soon to Brisbane, Toowoomba, Sunshine Coast, and Gold Coast...
Our camps use evidence based methods to build resilience, self-belief, respect for self and others, ...