New Day offers children outdoor activities like rappelling down cliffs, hiking in the wilderness, and riding horses.
“We offer positive outdoor activities like rappelling, hiking, and horseback riding to replace other negative activities that they’re accustomed to,” said Marcus Red-Thunder, New Day cultural adviser. “The key here is replacing negative activities with positive activities. It’s important they feel a sense of accomplishment.”
Marcus said it’s takes courage for children to lean over the edge of a cliff, trust the rope with their lives, then rappel down a rock face. “They can apply what they learn in that activity to their lives,” Marcus pointed out. “It also takes courage to become drug or alcohol free. These kids relate better and learn more about life, patience, and perseverance by being actively involved in these activities – not sitting in a classroom being lectured,” Marcus said.
What is experiential?
New Day likes to say that much of its children activities are experiential, but what does that mean? Simply put, it means doing something rather being told about it. It means watching someone doing something, then doing it yourself. The thinking behind it is that New Day feels children learn more when they actually shoot arrows, care for a horse, or hike through the hills.
Anna Clayton, New Day quality assurance coordinator, remembers when a teen girl, about 14 or 15 years old, was hesitant to try rappelling because of a disability. “She was hesitant to try rappelling. But she tried it, succeeded, and that feeling of accomplishment transferred over into her therapy sessions, as well as into all other areas. That simple activity was an extreme emotional booster for her. She was thinking that if she could conquer rappelling, she could clearly do anything else.”
For youth staying in group homes, New Day mixes experiential activities with clinical treatment. Youth can take part in drum groups, spiritual support groups, talking circles, sweat lodge ceremony and equine (horse) therapy.
The program helps children strengthen their beliefs about themselves. They get more attuned with themselves and those around them, which helps them gradually fit back in with their families, schools, and community. The combination of clinical therapy with experiential activities has proven success for many children.
“I try to inspire the kids to hang on to their tribal traditions and cultures as a way of drug and alcohol prevention,” Marcus said. “However, I get a positive reaction from all the kids, Indian and non-Indians, because they learn more with hands-on instruction.”
New Day also has a camp in the Bull Mountains, just south of Roundup. It’s a place where children can work on projects while also working on improving themselves. Located among rolling hills with sandstone outcroppings, it’s a place where elk, deer, and antelope roam freely. Occasionally, you can hear a wild turkey gobbling. Children can also ride the horses there and enjoy the unique to Montana wilderness and solitude.
It’s place of reflection.
It’s a place for healing.
Anna remembers one boy who didn’t like the traditional school setting. However, he thrived when he visited the camp. “He loved it out there,” Anna said. “He was doing a lot of heavy lifting, and hard work, and enjoyed every minute of it. He was out there on the mountain doing something productive.”
“I see a lot of great things happening in the Bull Mountains. It’s remarkable therapy because kids can use the horses on the walking trails and sit around a campfire,” she said.
Positive outdoor activities include the following:
- Low-rope courses
Four Dances Program
Level III.5 Intensive Outpatient Chemical Dependency Service
This program offers the following residential
- A comprehensive adolescent assessment
- Psychiatric care and medication management
- Intensive group, individual & family therapy