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Finding Connection Through the Parent Workshop

It is Wednesday evening in Clayton, Georgia. We are seated around a crackling fire as the sun dips behind the rolling hills. Cater has bow-drilled for us, built the flames until we feel heat licking up our legs. Everyone’s eyes are closed, focus on our individual breaths. I can hear the pop and hiss of escaping steam from the firewood, the rhythmic inhales and exhales of the parents who have traveled here to participate in our three-day Parent Workshop.

  • Our breathwork is coming to a close. I ring a chime. Eyes begin to open.
  • “Now,” I say. “Take a look around and make eye contact with those in this circle.”
  • To my left, a dad begins to cry.
  • “It feels so good to be here,” he says. “Finally, we’re with people who understand how hard this has been.”
Finding connection through the parent workshop
  • This is the power of the Parent Workshop.
  • This is the power of connection.

Parents often say to me how challenging it is to explain to peers and family members that their child is living in the woods. They try to describe “G&O,” and “hot cycles,” and “throwing bears,” but are met with confusion by friends who have no context, no frame of reference with which to wrap their heads around the intricacies of intensive therapeutic wilderness. But there are no such barriers at the parent workshop. Though each family has had their unique journey to BRTW and Emerald Arrow, there is the shared connection of this wilderness experience. Often our workshop feedback contains anecdotes of just how energized parents feel from having conversations with fellow parents – whether their child is in the same team or working with different therapists.

Family Program Offerings

I wonder how this statistic will hold up with the parents I work with. Because 2020 into 2021 has been incredibly challenging, incredibly isolating, unprecedented in the existential stress and demands placed on our lives and livelihoods. When coupled with the challenging experience of choosing to send your child to wilderness I see a need for continued parent support with a specific focus on inter-parent connection.

Blue Ridge & Emerald Arrow offers Friday Parent Support Calls, and we have a Facebook Parent Support Group. Both have shown themselves to be connection-generating. And, of course, there is Parent Workshop. I am so grateful that we have an opportunity to connect in-person. At the workshops we can learn the material in real-time, ask questions and offer insights and share stories. There, around the fire at sunset, we can connect and, in that connection, find meaning and hope.

For those interested in learning more about our monthly Parent Workshops, please talk with your Primary Therapist and your Family Therapist Coach. We’ll be excited to tell you more about it.