One of the unique experiences that Rites of Passage NW is able to offer includes gardening therapy. First used experimentally in the 1940s and 1950s with returning war veterans, horticultural therapy is now recognized as a widely effective, realistic therapy. One of the boundaries of HT as it is known however, is the ability to find an area to participate in this type of therapy. At Rites of Passage NW, the entire wilderness is at our teens’ fingertips, allowing a unique opportunity to experience this type of therapy.
Something that HT teaches well is problem solving. Growing flowers, fruits, or vegetables is not always easy, and clients must learn patience and problem-solving to effectively raise plants to fruition. Done as a group, gardening also develops social skills and team building, allowing teens to work as part of a team.
Here at Rites of Passage NW, our teen s will tend to their garden daily, in conjunction with conventional therapies. Teens can also learn the art of introspection and journaling with respect to their gardening, comparing themselves and their lives to a garden. Similarly to a garden, a life in peril must be carefully cultivated with the greatest of care.
Another benefit of gardening our fruits and vegetables concerns our healthy, holistic diet that our teens eat while at Rites of Passage NW. Not only do teens learn patience and tolerance while growing food, they are able to enjoy the fruits of their labor. Here at Rites of Passage NW, we plant the seedlings, cultivate the plant, harvest the plant, and eat the food from the plant. These life lessons are unable to be taught in a “regular rehab” and these types of experiences a teenager can take home with them for a lifetime. With an entire ten acres set aside for gardening, teens learn not only the therapeutic value of gardening, but the principles of agriculture.