What Experiential Programming Looks Like
Experiential education may take the form of a spring break trip to a historic place in our country such as Philadelphia, PA or Washington, DC. Children learn experientially when they are part of a sports team or a classroom workgroup. Such learning dovetails with our Sanctuary model as each child and his or her team meet regularly to review goals, celebrate successes, and identify areas for growth.
Additionally, as part of our Sanctuary commitment to social learning, experiential learning programs at Crossnore are shared experiences between staff, children, and families. It is in these moments that our children are able to heal, establish new life patterns, and utilize all of their creativity in planning for their future.
Experiential Programming on the Avery Campus
On our Avery campus, the pet nurturing program combines experiential learning with the chores associated with family life as children learn to care for the cottage dogs. Therapists specially trained in equine therapy utilize the horses, barn, and arenas for hands-on sessions with the children.
In the spring, our children and volunteers plant a community garden. Through the garden, children learn about where our food comes from, spend time with adults invested in their success, and enjoy harvesting the fruit of their labors.
During the summer, different clubs, classes, and field trips are offered each week. With these experiences, children explore various interests, discover their talents, and develop those talents further.
Experiential Programming on the Winston-Salem Campus
On our Winston-Salem campus, experiential learning occurs on our campus farm and our adventure-based ropes course. The serene rolling hills and outdoor spaces offer children a quiet refuge from today’s busy life. And it’s a place to run off some energy. Here, we offer educational opportunities with gardening, animals, team building, and therapeutic activities.
Adventure-based counseling is a specific method of doing group-based therapeutic interventions. Typically it includes games and physical activities. Thus, it is built on a basis of fun and novelty. It strips away the superficiality and gets to how kids relate to one another. It also works with adult teams learning how they can relate to one another. This is a collaborative process rather than a competitive one.
As part of our commitment to trauma-informed care, adventure-based counseling activities help our kids recognize their similarities and identify their group belonging. This is important because group belonging, self-efficacy, and peer and adult attachments are the foundation of building resiliency.
When a child experiences trauma, they go into a state of hyperarousal. The same thing happens when you utilize a tool such as the high ropes course on the Winston-Salem campus. The course helps each participant face the fear part of their brain so it retrains them on how to face stress. It’s a tool to work on how they get through each day, how they relate to their past, and what does their future look like.
Other tools include games and activities on the farm, with therapy horses, or on the climbing wall on the Avery campus. We also hope to install a low ropes course in Winston-Salem in the future. After a session of Adventure-Based Counseling, each child participates in processing the experience with the peers and with safe and caring adults and caregivers. This is an important part of the group process.