A Friendship Born in the Wilderness

When 14-year-old Michael came to the Guidance Center three years ago, he was a boy who desperately wanted friends. But his severe ADHD and compulsive behavior alienated his peers.

His journey to wellness started with individual and family therapy, which helped Michael begin to develop some important communication skills. But the dramatic change came when he took part in our innovative Wilderness Program.

Our Wilderness Program takes at-risk youth on hikes through some of the most beautiful natural settings in our region. Through these trips, teens with social and emotional challenges experience the healing power of nature.

Michael loved the hikes to places like Caumsett State Historic Park Preserve and Bear Mountain. His wonderment at nature’s magnificence became a passion that helped Michael blossom. He made friends and his grades soared. Now 17, Michael has applied to several colleges. He plans to study Earth Science and teach special education so he can help kids just like him.

But there’s much more to the story.

In January, Ben, a diminutive 12-year-old, joined the Wilderness Program. Like Michael, Ben had poor social skills and couldn’t stop talking. He was very hyperactive and anxious, and the other teens kept their distance—that is, all except Michael. He told Ben, “Hey, you remind me of myself when I joined the group. I was just like you! You’re going to love this program and you are going to grow and mature, like I did. You’re a smart, great kid, but you need to listen and learn. I’ll help you. Just hang with me.”

Ben quickly bonded with this “big brother.” He’s now a calmer, more focused boy who is able to thrive at home and school. He no longer feels like an outsider.

To learn more about the Wilderness Program and other Guidance Center services, please visit our website at www.northshorechildguidance.org.