August 10, 2012 22:16 by Landon
As some of know, Jordan V. graciously stepped in as the interim Recreation Therapy Director after Caleb departed CALO to pursue his Master's Degree last fall. Jordan has filled in nicely and helped the program stay on course. Jordan has been the constant, stable force in the recreation therapy department for a few years now and we are very blessed to have him.
We have been targeting master-level and/or certified leaders to run recreation therapy in order to have the department continue to grow in quality and in reputation. It is my pleasure to inform you that our very own Michael Koehler is going to be CALO’s Recreation Therapy Director beginning August 27th. Until now, some of you have known Michael as a CALO therapist but you may not know Michael’s background has perfectly set him up for the Recreation Therapy Director position.
Michael has immense passion, interest and experience in working with youth in experiential and outdoor adventure settings for over a decade. Upon completing his Peace Corps service in Thailand, Michael worked at a wilderness therapy company in Utah to begin accumulating experience in the field. As a field instructor working with at-risk youth in the high Utah desert, Michael mastered survival skills such as friction fire and leave-no-trace camping. Michael then went on to earn his Master’s degree from Naropa University in Transpersonal Counseling Psychology with an emphasis in Wilderness Therapy. As part of his graduate education, Michael learned to use therapeutic interventions with youth in equine, rock climbing, high-ropes, mountains, canyons, river and rites of passage to facilitate therapeutic, healing relationships with nature and self.
Since graduating with his Masters, Michael has worked as a mentor to young adult males in the Colorado Rockies and has led groups of high school students in wilderness excursions; teaching environmental education and ecology. In the Spring of 2011, Michael was recruited to work as a therapist at CALO where he has learned, grown and become intimate with the CALO therapeutic model and all it strives to achieve in healing relationships. Michael has witnessed firsthand, over many years, the power of therapeutic recreation and adventure in helping others to challenge their most difficult beliefs about themselves as well as to gain mastery and self-efficacy. It is with this passion, enthusiasm and dedication to service that Michael has turned his sights to the next adventure, Recreation Therapy Director at CALO!
I know losing Michael pains the clinical department and the students and families on Michael’s therapeutic caseload. However, as you can see, Michael will now provide a wider impact at CALO due to his skills, personality and experience. He is a great fit for what CALO needs to move our Recreation Therapy into the future. We are so pleased he has accepted this position.
July 10, 2010 00:52 by Caleb
With summer in full swing CALO students are spending quite a bit of time on the water. It has been a refreshing and fun change up in the recreational therapy curriculum to focus on communication while having fun behind the boats.
By now most students have passed off their entire swim test and are working very hard to pass off each step of their water skiing test. This is not an easy test. Each student has to complete the following tasks:
- Get up on two skis
- Ride behind the boat for one full minute
- Cross both wakes behind the boat in the same ride
- Lift each ski completely out of the water for five seconds
- Jump the wake getting both skis completely out of the water
- Ski on one ski for thirty full seconds
Having completed each one of these difficult tasks our students will then have the opportunity to choose their next area of expertise which may include wakeboarding, knee boarding or wake skating.
There is a phrase that we use quite regularly here at CALO, “Every moment is a therapeutic opportunity.” There have certainly been many therapeutic opportunities while teaching the students to ski. Recently one of our female students who had never successfully skied before went out on the boat and refused to try skiing. As she put it, “I am afraid of failing, and I don’t want to fail in front of all my peers.” With some gentle encouragement and a lot of support from her friends she finally took the risk of getting out of her comfort zone. She got up and passed off her one minute ride on her third pull.
It is not uncommon for this type of success to become contagious and enter other areas in our student’s lives including academics, canine therapy and family relationships. The arena is different, although the principles are the same. Calculated risks taken under the supervision of trusted adults create opportunities for increased self concept and confidence.
June 12, 2010 01:25 by Caleb
CALO students recently returned from a very exciting rock climbing trip. For almost three months our students spent a great deal of energy learning how to tie knots and anchors and utilize rock climbing safety gear so they could qualify to participate in an exciting team work rock climbing trip. Although it was warm and muggy, and the bugs were thick, we had an absolutely wonderful experience learning the basic concepts of teamwork while overcoming different challenges together.
So many times during our recreational therapy sequences the most therapeutic moments are not planned; they just happen. This trip was no exception. While camping with our boys we thought it would be a fun adventure to sleep on top of Sam’s Throne in northern Arkansas. The only difficulty would be transporting enough water from the vehicles to the campsite nearly two miles away. Students were broken into teams and assisted one another carrying the heavy seven pound water containers to the campsite. Creative thinking skills were utilized as teams used ropes and sticks and teamwork to haul the heavy water containers along the narrow trail. In one of the most spontaneous recreational therapy moments on our trip our boys show true empathy and consideration for one another as they struggled along side their staff to carry the jugs full of the life sustaining water.
While working with our girls even our staff were squeezed as they helped girls overcome their fears on an 80 foot repel. Although it took significantly longer to help everyone complete this courageous task, it was a truly amazing process to watch girls who had steadfastly made up their mind to refuse the activity, slowly and willingly change their minds and attitudes as their peers sat and talked with them and used their excellent teamwork and empathetic communication skills to convince their friends and peers to take that scary leap of faith and repel down a mountain. With nothing more than a few miner scrapes and bruises our girls were able to celebrate together at the bottom of the mountain after repelling (some of them upside-down) down the cliff.
Already our students are gearing up for summer, and that means fun in the water. We are currently passing off our swim tests so we can enjoy activities and adventures in the ski boat and the canoes. Students will have opportunities to improve and learn about their own communication styles and will be coached how they can more effectively connect with those they care about.
March 19, 2010 19:51 by Caleb
For months our students have been talking about the growth zone during recreational therapy. The growth zone is an uncomfortable, progress inspiring place just outside the comfort zone, and right before the danger zone. Students have had the privilege to feel the growth zone during physical activities such as the mile run. As they race around the track trying to beat their best time it is tempting to stop once your lungs start burning and your legs get tired. The truth is that if you don’t push through that discomfort, you will never build the physical tolerance needed to improve.
Sometimes growth hurts a little bit, and that is a good thing. Therapy follows a similar pattern. It is comfortable to sit in an office with your therapist and talk about superficial topics that require little vulnerability. Unfortunately this will never help you come to a greater understanding of who you are, and what you are worth. The process of trusting another human being with your sincerest fears and opinions can be quite terrifying. It hurts to take that kind of emotional risk. Again, the wonderful truth is that if you will push through that discomfort and take those emotion risks with safe individuals, you will build the emotional tolerance to improve and increase your own self worth.
We are very excited to announce the upcoming parent retreat on May 13th – 14th. During this retreat families will have opportunities to explore their own growth zones and discover opportunities to strengthen and build relationships through experiential therapy. We invite all parents of current students to plan on attending our first ever parent retreat and experience the increased intimacy within a family that comes from spending time and working together. We hope to accomplish great things during this two day retreat and look forward to seeing you there.
January 27, 2010 01:08 by Ken
With apologies to MD's everywhere I would like to give a very short lesson on the brain and its development. I am hopeful that a short synopsis of some of what we know about the brain will then help us understand some of what can positively impact the brain in later, teenage life. So here goes:
The brain can be subdivided into three regions--the hindbrain, the midbrain, and the forebrain. The hindbrain is where autonomic bodily control is regulated. Food consumption, hunger, digestion, food search, breathing, various senses, etc. are regulated and controlled here. In general, the feeling of "I need, I will go get what I need" for physical well being comes from this area of the brain. The midbrain is where relationships with others are felt and where physical proximity is interpreted as good or bad. Touch with emotional meaning is interpreted here. To some extent, love is felt here. The forebrain is where cognition is accomplished. It is the part of the brain that uses rational argument, that formulates sentences, that writes in this blog and uses logic. It is the part of the brain that allows us to think about our existence in existential terms.
Various activities and life events operate more substantially on just one of these three regions of the brain at any given time. During early formative years, keeping a child away from food would activate his/her hindbrain and keep the child in a survival mode in ways that would adversely affect brain development. In ways, the child would become partly stuck in base survival activities. S/he might hoard food. S/he might run away and try to survive on his/her own. Another child who is given food, shelter, and water, but who is abused sexually from birth to pre-adolescence might then learn that sex is to be used in relationships to get what s/he wants. S/he might be promiscuous. S/he might always look through a lens of who has the power in any given situation and then try to align with the power players in the environment. Or s/he might try to always maintain the power position by intimidation and manipulation. That would be what s/he has learned from abuse and control.
The teens we work with at CALO come from situations where the hindbrain and midbrain were developing in abusive or neglectful situations. More...
June 12, 2009 00:09 by Caleb
CALO students recently returned from an exciting therapeutic recreation adventure. For three days CALO students braved the heat, the rain and the mosquitoes while climbing some of the most majestic rock features of the Midwest. During this three day adventure students participated in dynamic team challenges that allowed students an opportunity to prove what they have learned during the last eight weeks as they have focused on teamwork.
CALO students typically focus on one element of interdependence for eight weeks while participating in ropes course activities, adventure activities and creative arts activities. At the end of the eight weeks they get to prove what they have learned while participating on an "engineered experience" that is organized to help them utilize the skills they have recently acquired.
We spent the first two days of our trip climbing and familiarizing ourselves with the area. The last day of our trip was spent conquering an obstacle course that was kind of a mix between the amazing race and fear factors. Students worked together and supported one another as they climbed up rock faces, repelled down 100 foot cliffs and zipped across ravines on a zip line. Some students even had the opportunity to do an Australian repel (that means you go down head first). It was an inspiring sight to watch students forget past frustrations with one another and lift each other up (physically and emotionally) as they rallied together to overcome each obstacle they encountered.
During this exciting trip students had opportunities to strengthen relationships with one another and with staff, to face their fears, and to enjoy the outdoors in healthy and productive ways. Camping trips often provide students with memories and self confidence that remain More...