"...he not only had the time of his life, but he experienced so many new wonderful things, and learned so much more about nature and indigenous cultures. Something else seems to have "affected" him (don't know another word to use) - he absorbed values that are inherent in such good people as yourselves, and that, as you know, is priceless.
"[the experience] has boosted my self-confidence and has made me realize that I can do anything I put my mind to. After our three-day fast, on our vision quest, our counselors took us into town to eat out [at Tina's Diner]. After we were done eating, Tina asked if anyone was up for karaoke. Now, I love to sing. It is my one true passion, but I had trouble singing in front of people. I got stage fright... I went to the bathroom and stared at myself in the mirror, and I asked myself, 'If you can survive, alone, in the wilderness, with nothing but your gear and four gallons of water, what makes you think you can't share your passion with this new family of friends that's been created?' I realized that I could do it and I would do it because if I didn't, I would be doing myself a disservice. After I performed 'Hero' by Mariah Carey, I experienced a standing ovation which touched my heart in ways words can't explain... I have been able to release many emotions and frustrations that have built up inside of me. Last, but not least, I've realized that I have the power to do anything I put my mind to and to be whatever I want to be."
"...one young boy, seen at CALM because of abuse, reported that he had had a wonderful time at the Project. When this statement was explored by his therapist, it became clear that this isolated and depressed child had been able to form ties with peers, get along in a group, and actually enjoy himself. This is the best possible outcome we could have ever hoped for. Thank you for the work you do."
"In my entire life, I have never seen such dedication, kindness, and unconditional love from these human beings [Wilderness Youth Project Staff]. My son has grown so much in the areas of responsibility, compassion, respect and discipline in these short weeks. This experience through the "WYP" program has been life-changing to say the least.
"He voluntarily went on a night hike without either of us. He often approached the counselors to ask for what he needed without coaching or coaxing. He climbed rocks fearlessly and swam in a river with us for the first time. He spoke at the circle and participated in almost every activity. He went for hikes without us, played with the counselors, and other children, and shared his knowledge and curiosity with them as well. He laughed a great deal. The program is phenomenal!"
"The outstanding staff at the Wilderness Youth Project have been able to connect with our students and provide meaningful learning experiences. The Wilderness Youth Project is a very important part of our program here at La Cuesta. Our students look forward to meeting with them every week. It is my personal opinion that this program should be a part of the regular curriculum at every high school.
"He came back glowing and for the next several days told us some of his experiences... he said he never even thought of TV. He commented many times how the worries of life drop away and just him, the wind, and the water are THERE. It was good to be in a group that cares and listens and is REAL."