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Outdoor Experiential

The outdoors is a wonderful classroom and playground. A wide-open canvas for healing and discovering one’s resilience and power. A pusher-of-limits. A self-confidence charger.

Getting Outside

Physically and metaphorically, we believe in getting outside. Getting outside to experience sports and nature. Getting outside of the limits we set on ourselves.

There’s nothing like rafting the rapids of a river for teaching our adolescents how to think quickly and work together. Or finding the next handhold on a rock climb for overcoming fear. Outdoors, our youth become aware of what they’re capable of. They discover new depths of resilience and confidence and take their potential to new heights.

Safe. Intentional. Fun.

Gateway’s outdoor experiential program provides our youth with adventures that challenge them within safe, non-threatening limits. Our outdoor experts are skilled not only in outdoor sports, but in creating experiences that intentionally foster growth and well-being. Weekend activities and extended trips include rock climbing, canyoneering, backpacking, skiing, snowboarding, and river running expeditions. Each adventure is carefully designed, offering a mix of personal therapeutic opportunities and activities that build connection and cooperation.

Therapy In A Different Setting

Outdoor experiential interventions at Gateway extend far beyond recreation. It is a critical element of our therapeutic approach. The discoveries our youth make about themselves in therapy – lessons of self-confidence and capability — are reinforced in adventures on the weekend and on week-long excursions. For some teens, outdoor experiences are key to unlocking the door to their resistance and self-doubt.

Often, physical outdoor challenges free youth up to admit fears more readily. Most experiences also hold lessons that can readily be extended to “real life.” Climbing, for instance, is a great metaphor: It’s scary. You can come off the wall – but be caught. It involves teamwork, trust, communication, and problem-solving. And when you succeed, you have other people cheering for you at the top.

It’s important to note that Gateway experiential activities are low-risk in nature, but carry a high perceived risk, which is a great recipe for building confidence and self-esteem. They are adventures that require both physical and social risk taking. Learning to ask for support from one’s peers – and accept it – is an important and valuable skill. At the same time, each youth can see firsthand how individual choices and behavior influence the goals of the group, and how their support might be just the thing that helps a peer succeed.

Many Seasons Of Adventure

Our weekly adventures and extended trips change with the seasons and we are fortunate to have the whole of Utah as our big backyard. Winter adventures find our youth skiing or snowboarding through a glade of aspens on a powder day. Backpacking trips are great for learning about self-reliance and one’s "place" in the astonishing scale and beauty of the wilderness. Summer rock climbing, canyoneering, whitewater rafting and kayaking are all about dynamic, ever-changing and challenging environments, complete with obstacles, decision-making and fun.

Gateway weekend trips are not about “athletics.” There is no emphasis on competition, winning or superior sports skill. Nature is an equal opportunity playground. And our programs are designed to allow our youth to set their own goals, achieve their own successes, and tap into undiscovered skills and strengths.