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Second Nature was founded in July of 1998 by a small group of experienced clinicians with backgrounds in Marriage and Family Therapy and Social Work. Today, Founders and Partners still work in the field, providing therapy to students and managing the programs and personnel. Second Nature has long been known as the leader in wilderness therapy programs, in clinical expertise, safety, and positive outcomes.
"At Second Nature I have had a life changing experience. I have learned more about myself and my interactions with others by being here for 9 weeks than I have in my entire lifetime. Second Nature provided me with a safe and supportive environment to grow and begin to trust myself. I am very thankful for having this opportunity and am thankful to all the staff for helping me along the way." Alumni Student - Florida
Second Nature uses a nomadic model with proven efficacy. This is a challenging model, rather than one that focuses on fun or creating calm, although both occur organically in the setting. The wilderness treatment program engages students in low-impact hiking (3-5 miles per day), setting up and breaking down temporary base camps over a five-day period. Layover days include individual and group therapy, medical visits, and the delivery of fresh food and laundry. Although every day at camp is a little different, you can see what a day looks like for our students by visiting the link below.
The community structure mirrors life at home, although students are not aware of it initially, with its stresses, challenges, ongoing requirements, responsibilities and interactions. Everything that happens is processed therapeutically for maximum impact on students. In this setting, students play out old behaviors and dynamics while staff and the students' peers help to reflect back – in the moment - what they observe. Students begin to see common denominators in both settings and begin to practice new, healthier dynamics within the safety of the milieu.
Students apply and practice newly acquired skills and coping strategies thats will serve them well in home, school and social situations. Woven into the daily schedule is a strong focus on assertive communication skills, which are used to process feelings and thoughts that arise while hiking, cooking together, setting up camp, and other activities.
Second Nature's model is highly effective with therapeutically resistant students as well as students who come to Second Nature as a first intervention. The 24/7 supervision, over-arching clinical support and therapeutic application of principles against the backdrop of a safe but challenging environment effects change in ways that can’t be duplicated in other therapeutic recreational program settings. Second Nature continues to operate with the same guiding principles it was founded on, 17 years ago. Safety is and has always been the number one priority (no injuries more serious than sprains since Second Nature's inception) while offering the highest level of customer service and clinical expertise available in a wilderness therapy setting. Second Nature has the lowest rate of staff turnover in our field, retaining our well trained and experienced clinicians and field staff, management, and admissions personnel well beyond the industry average, which results in continuity of program, service and most importantly, better outcomes for students and families.
Second Nature's positive outcomes are often quoted by program personnel in various aftercare settings as they compare how well Second Nature students are prepared to transition to their next setting than students from other outdoor programs.
Programs and Educational Consultants routinely report that Second Nature students have excellent communication skills, exhibit more resilience, and often function at a superior level in group interactions, therapy, academics, program structure, and other important components.
Second Nature operates at varying locations and elevations depending on the time of year. The field area is managed by the National Forest Service in the late spring, summer, and early fall, and the Bureau of Land Management in the late fall, winter, and early spring. Second Nature works with both organizations to ensure minimal impact standards.
Second Nature's legacy is validated by reports from families, students and referral sources who have experienced - first hand - the Second Nature difference.