Asked Questions

Naturally, you have questions about the program. The Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page may have an answer for you. We encourage you to browse the various pages of the website as it contains lots of useful and detailed information. If you prefer, please give us a call at (705) 386-2376 ext 252 or use our ‘Contact Us’ links and we’ll do our best to answer your questions.

Are adventure therapy programs evidence-informed and effective?

Some studies from the 1970’s and ‘80’s raised questions about whether therapeutic adventure programs were efficacious. However, there is now a large and growing body of peer-reviewed published research demonstrating that adventure therapy programs generate excellent outcomes compared to traditional residential treatment. An excellent website to explore this question further is the Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare Centre ( www.obhrc.org ). There is also a growing body of research demonstrating the positive effects of physical exercise, mindfulness and exposure to natural settings for people struggling with addictions, learning disabilities, trauma and anxiety. Wendigo Lake participates in ongoing outcomes research and works diligently to deliver programming which is evidence informed and effective. The research is very clear that the quality of the therapeutic relationship between clients and their helpers is by far the single most powerful predictor of positive outcomes. Wendigo Lake is widely recognized for the quality of the therapeutic relationships formed between Instructors and students.

What is the minimum length of the REACH Program?

The program curriculum is designed around a minimum 90 day placement. We believe it is important for students to commit to completing the program and to be confident that any extension will require their consent. Achieving the optimal reintegration to family or home community may justify some modest adjustment to timing.

Can a student remain in the program past the 90 day term?

Yes. We believe it is important for students to commit to being in the program for a term that is negotiated and agreed upon based in part on the strategic transition plan following discharge. We also recognize that evidence-informed policy seeks to have a young person return to their home and community as soon as possible. Many young people will recognize that they are not yet ready to return home after three months. If a young person and their parent/guardian agree that it is in their best interest to continue in the treatment program, their placement can be extended by mutual agreement based on clear treatment goals and a reintegration plan.

Does my child have to agree to participate in the REACH Program?

Yes. REACH is a voluntary treatment program so the young person must be in agreement with placement. It is not unusual for a young person to be unhappy about the prospect of going into a treatment program such as REACH and they may not be ready to acknowledge the serious risks and consequences of their present behaviour. We believe treatment is ultimately more successful when parents/caregivers speak honestly with the young person about his situation and the need for change.

Is there counselling support available for the parent/guardian?

Yes. Our program is designed to support family permanency by engaging the parent or guardian in counselling support specific to improving their relationship with the young person. The young person will often become more engaged in their treatment if they see that their parent/caregiver is ready to acknowledge that they also need to work on change. Counselling is available through monthly on-site sessions and by regular sessions by telephone or video conferencing and this support continues to be available for a month after residential treatment is complete.

What would likely disqualify a youth from being admitted to REACH?

Every admission decision is based on a holistic individualized assessment of the young person – their level of risk to self and others, their motivation to change, their ability to learn from experience and reflection. It is best to discuss any concerns about a young person’s suitability with a member of the REACH program’s Admissions Team. Referrals may be declined based on very low cognition (below 10th percentile), medical/physical disabilities which create risk in a wilderness setting (enuresis, diabetes, anaphylaxis), or high risk to self/others (predatory/pre-meditated or unpredictable serious aggression or suicide risk).

REACH involves adventure activities and wilderness expeditions… Is the program safe?

There is published research and incident analyses comparing the relative safety of various forms of activity. While no activity, whether it is a ‘normal’ day in the community or hiking in the wilderness, is completely free of the risk of serious injury or death, the research indicates that well-managed wilderness programs have better safety records than the typical activities of teenagers. Young people who are referred for residential treatment are usually engaged in more unsafe behaviour than the ‘typical’ teenager. Wendigo Lake is licensed and regulated by the Ministry of Children and Youth Services, accredited by the Association for Experiential Education and strives to follow industry best-practices related to each of its activities.

Can I communicate with and visit my son during his participation in the program?

REACH welcomes and encourages the involvement of parents, extended family and professionals. Your child is given extensive opportunity to make and receive phone calls to any person approved by his parent/guardian. He can send and receive mail. Visits are encouraged – please call ahead to ensure the students are on campus as they spend a portion of their time engaged in wilderness expeditions. Additionally, Family Weekends are scheduled monthly as an option for families to attend to reconnect and participate in adventure activities and counselling.

Is there a fee for the REACH Program?

REACH is a per-diem rated program. Approved agencies such as an Ontario CAS are billed on a monthly basis. Private-pay placements by parents are paid in advance, with any unused portion refundable, per the conditions of the service agreement. All of the young person’s clothing and equipment required during participation is supplied at no charge by the program.

Does Wendigo Lake offer other therapeutic programs for youth?

Wendigo Lake offers a range of services in addition to the REACH program and over the years has offered various short and long term residential treatment and wilderness programs for youth. Wendigo Lake is able to develop customized programs specific to the needs of an agency or family. Please check our ACHIEVE Program website to learn more about our current offerings.

Wendigo Lake Expeditions is committed to making reasonable efforts to comply with accessibility requirements set out under the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005 (AODA).